A beautiful home, luxury cars, secure finances, this is what our modern society views as the epitome of success. But what about the content homemaker or the financially unstable, yet happy entrepreneur? Are these people unsuccessful even though they have everything they personally want, just not what is viewed as the products of achievement? I think not.
The Encarta dictionary defines success as: achievement of intention; attainment of fame, wealth, or power. Thus secular society uses a man’s accomplishments, prosperity, wealth, or influence to judge his level of achievement. However, as a Christian I believe that true success includes finishing the race of faith well, accomplishing the work God called you to, and influencing lives for God’s kingdom.
Success is not something that can be measured by a set standard, such as how much money one has or what kind of house one lives in, because everyone is diverse and has been given distinct callings. Therefore, accomplishment must be determined by one’s personal God-given calling. For instance, Paul—that mighty warrior of the faith—who probably only owned the clothes on his back and was unsure where he would stay each night, wrote in his second letter to Timothy that he viewed himself as having attained success because, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (1 Timothy 4:7) Furthermore, not only does Paul say that he’s attained it, but he also states that all who do likewise have the same confidence of triumph. Or take David for example, the powerful king of Israel who defeated many foes and strengthened a nation, and was mentioned by Samuel as being successful “in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him.” (1 Samuel 18:14)
Our Creator is the owner of everything; we are just stewards of what He has entrusted us with, therefore, everything we have is a gift from God. In return our Lord only requests that we walk faithfully before Him, serving Him with our lives as He required of Solomon saying “If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.” (1 Kings 2:4b) Is that too much to ask?
Why set your life goal on attaining temporal, earthly, and what the world defines as success, when you can achieve guaranteed, eternal, and everlasting attainment by doing what Jehoshaphat commanded his people: “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.” (2 Chronicles 20:20b) Now we no longer have prophets in the Old Testament meaning of the word; however, we have something even better, the Bible—God’s living, breathing Word—which not only contains the messages of the Old Testament prophets, but much, much more. So Jehoshaphat’s exhortation could be rewritten for us, the modern reader, as “Believe in the LORD your God, and you will be established; believe His Word, and you will succeed.”
So in conclusion, I pose to you that success is not found in what career choice you pick, but in which master you serve. Therefore, as Jehovah told the children of Israel before entering the Promised Land, “Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:7)
Author’s Note ~
This month’s article is directed to the high school graduating Class of 2016, but is also applicable to young people of all ages who face the question of “What am I supposed to do with my life?” Originally written in light of my own graduation, I pray that this article encourages and exhorts you as you step out and embark on life in the adult world. May you always put the Lord your God and His plans before your own and those the world will set before you, and may God richly bless you as you pass this significant milestone. Soli Deo Gloria!
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