I just realized that I have my 20 year high school reunion coming up. I can't believe it has been 20 years. When thinking of meeting with those who trekked through the confusion that was High School, I admit, I think about what people will think of what I have become. Don't get me wrong, I am very happy with my life. I have a beautiful wife, with wonderful kids, a home, and I am doing what I love to do. Yet, there it is...that feeling that I might not be seen as successful by others. It leads me to the deeper question; what is success?
I live in a society that is driven by the desire for success. As an American, it seems like many times our worth is defined by how successful we are. How well we have done for ourselves in business, education, or personal notoriety. When meeting people for the first time one of the first things asked in conversation is "What do you do for a living?" This might seem normal, as if we just desire to know about the other person, but behind it is the obvious inquiry, "how successful are you?"
Most of the time in this society the success we are taught to seek is defined by possessions, money, or maybe power and prestige. Have we climbed the corporate ladder? Do we live in that respectable house filled with nice things. What car do we drive? Who do we know? Or who knows us? Wether it be our salary, our homes, our positions...the definition of success seems to be all focused around what we have done for ourselves. The problem is, when we gauge our success by what we have accomplished, when are we actually successful? When can we be happy with where we are and who we are?
I think the story Jesus in the New Testament tells us a radically different way of defining success. Success is achieved more from losing than gaining. This seems ridiculous at first when placed next to the idea that the more we do for ourselves the more successful our lives will be. But there it is, a clear message that true life (successful life) is only gained through giving up all that we have. Jesus said with his own words, "whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it." (Luke 9:24)
Real success is not measured by possessions but by a personal relationship with the one who reveals and releases true human living in us and through us. Real success is not in our list of accomplishments, but our lives lived in sacrifice that accomplishes all things good in this world. Real success is not in power and prestige but walking humbly with Jesus, whose ministry was one of serving, even to the cross. Real success is not in the stock pile of money we have accumulating, but in surrendering our lives to be used by God however he sees fit, even if it calls us to give up everything that the world will define our success by.
What definition of success are we living by?
Labels: discipleship, materialism, money, sacrifice, success, surrender