Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15
How you measure success in this life will dictate the way you live this life and the legacy you will leave.
In my work as a consultant for not-for-profit organizations I ask one question to start almost every consultation. “How do you measure success?” I have found that this question more than any other helps to define an organization’s mission, values, and motivations. The same is true for individuals. Each of us carries with us a definition of success for our lives. That definition impacts every decision we make, our attitudes and our actions.
Chuck Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship had a plaque on his desk for most of the years he ran the ministry. It read, “Not Success but Faithfulness.” It was a daily reminder to him that “success” in the kingdom of God was radically different than that of the world. In fact, the idea of success itself had to be replaced by a radically new idea, the call to absolute faithfulness for followers of Jesus Christ. The great challenge for us is that so often faithfulness is a follower of Jesus Christ will result in things that run absolutely counter to the world’s definition of success. In fact, Scripture absolutely promises this. It tells us that in the kingdom of God we live by dying, received by giving, lead by serving, become first by being last, and are exalted through humility.
It is, however, even more radical than that. Success defined in kingdom terms can be boiled down to this one simple definition; a life lived daily in an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is in this intimacy that our hearts are changed, our lives transformed, and where faithfulness becomes our driving motivation for all of life.
Without this intimacy we will see counterfeit definitions of success. And our culture screams at us that much of it has to do with the jobs we hold, the wealth we possess, the power we wield, and the reputation we cultivate. These aberrant definitions seep their way into the kingdom of God and deceive many who wish to weave them into life. But they are antithetical to the way of the cross.
Are you willing to embrace kingdom values to such an extent that you will measure the success of your life solely and completely in terms of your faithfulness as a follower of Jesus that is born from an intimate relationship with God? When Jesus proclaimed in John chapter 10 that, “I have come that you may have life and have it abundantly,” it was to this life of faithfulness that he was referring. Are you living the abundant life today? It starts with an intimate relationship with God in Jesus Christ and a heart that yearns for faithfulness as the driving force for everything you think, say and do.
Write your own definition for success. Be honest with yourself and make a bullet point list of the things right now today that drive you. Look at your goals, your motivations and the mental picture you hold yourself of the ideal place you want to be in life. All of us are striving toward some picture of a life that is beyond the one we are living today. What other facets, characteristics and components of that desire life? Assess each one according to this new definition of success is absolute faithfulness is a follower of Jesus Christ. Are you willing to identify those driving forces in your life that do not align with kingdom values? Pray about each one, asking that God would change your heart, as you grow deeper in your relationship with him. Then develop a second list that describes what your life would look like if you lived in absolute faithfulness to him. Let that become your heart’s desire.
Gracious Lord, I confess that I have focused my attention on attaining things in this life that look a lot like the world’s definition of success. It is so easy for me to desire financial security, glowing reputation, popularity, praise and even power. I admit that in pursuing these things I have lost my way. I am not experiencing the abundant life you promised me. Take me back into your presence and help me find true intimacy with you. In your presence, change my heart, open my eyes and give me a new vision for my life. Instill in me a passion for faithfulness that will overwhelm every other passion in my life. I want to follow you, and you alone with all my heart. Come Holy Spirit, and guide me into all truth. I give myself back to you for this purpose in the name of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.