Never before in history has success been so attainable. The ability to create and distribute digital media has unlocked the door to an international presence in unprecedented ways. Success truly lies at the fingertips of anyone with a computer and Internet capability.
But what does this mean for us as Christians?
The sad truth that this era of social media, YouTube, American Idol, and the knowledge that this fame, which was a mere fantasy for previous generations, can be a reality, has fed our tendency to narcissism, indiscretion and a belief that the world’s definition of success is the only viable measure.
But is it?
Is success having a secure financial future, a nice retirement, and a piece of the American dream? Is this what Joshua meant when he said, “For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success”? – Joshua 1:8
Wisdom is the ability to view this life, our journey, and destiny through a completely different lens – through a spiritual lens that offers more than just a different perspective to discussion of success, it offers a whole new definition.
Even among Christians, the concept of success is paired with notoriety, money, status, and visible, traceable results. Successful ministers have books, large followings, nice suburban homes, and rub elbows with other notable ministers. While these things are certainly not wrong, when we choose to use them as landmarks for success, we are forfeiting the opportunity to view success in a deeper dimension.
The spiritual dimension of success
I am awed by many of our Christian predecessors. By today’s standard of success, they were miserable failures. They not only had few material possessions and certainly no financial future to speak of; they were often rejected by the mainstream church and its followers. Some were forced to resort to outdoor meetings because no church would allow them to darken their doors. Missionaries, after having buried loved ones in faraway lands, died themselves without one known convert to Christianity. Only after their own death did the flames of the true gospel of Jesus Christ spread like wildfire through the villages and tribes where they served.
My grandmother, an invalid and unlikely evangelist, led many souls to Jesus Christ in her small one-bedroom apartment. She was neither rich nor famous; certainly no paragon of success. And yet she had something that many lack today.
Eyes to see eternal riches
One day our kingdoms of success will disintegrate into ashes of worldly aspirations built on faulty foundations, and we will see what these heroes saw through the prism of the eternal; true success cannot seen with the natural eye, tracked with spreadsheets and pie charts, rewarded with trophies and diplomas, or glorified with biographies and fame. True success is measured in souls.
“The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” – Psalm 11:30
One day we will stand before the throne of Almighty God, and on that day He will not be interested in our books or CDs, our youth and music programs, or our huge outreaches that attracted hundreds of spectators. He will not reward kingdoms built by man. On that day He will reward those who labored to build His kingdom with no thought for their own notoriety or reputation; those who were willing to lay aside secure financial futures, corner offices, and nice condos on the beach to labor in the fields like a common man.
For they realized that in the common lays hidden the extraordinary. Out of the filthy dirt will arise a kingdom not made by hands. Out of one tiny rotted seed will grow a mighty harvest. And those who dared to soil their hands will one day receive a crown of life from the holy hands that stretched out wide on a splintered cross for us. On that day, those who turned a deaf ear to the chants of worldly fame will hear the holy voice of God say, “Well done good and faithful servant”.
And on that day, we will come to know the meaning of true success.
Rosilind is an American girl married to a Bosnian guy who lives in a small village just outside of Zagreb. They have two crazy boys 3 and under who are as opposite as boys can be. When Rosilind isn't writing, she is dreaming up recipes and searching for ways to organize her home better. You can find her at A Little R & R where she writes about missions, marriage and family, toddler activities, and her recipes. You will also find her onFacebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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