Posted by: glorifyhim1 | April 19, 2011

The Measure of Success

Recently I ran into a child that had been in my kindergarten Sunday School class the previous year. He grinned from ear to ear as he told me how he was enjoying first grade, then proudly exclaimed: “I’m 7 now!” I made a big deal about his already being 7 years old. It may be just one more year to me but to this little fellow, 7 years old carried a certain measure of success. He was bigger now, stronger, and certainly not a little kid anymore.

Little kids cannot seem to grow up fast enough (for them). They want to be older, bigger, and better and often they gauge their success in relation to others. “I’m bigger than Johnny,” or “I can run faster than Susie.” And, unfortunately, many of us measure our success in life the same way. Whatever we determine success to be (wealth, status, prestige, etc.), we compare ourselves to others to determine our degree of success.

Yet what really is success? Is it rising high on the corporate ladder, perhaps earning a six-figure income? Is it soaring to the top of one’s field, receiving notoriety along with accolades and honors? Can it also be a devoted father who endures a difficult, thankless job in order to provide for his family? Or perhaps a mother whose greatest ambition is to be a mommy and bring up her kids in the way of the Lord? Is success something we accomplish or achieve or is it the way we live?

While the Bible recounts many stories of both successful and unsuccesful people, there are really few references to the word success. But through these passages we can learn a lot about what it means to really be successful.

First of all I discover that true success is a lot more about the way we live than what we do. Ecclesiastes 10:10 tells us that “wisdom brings success.” However, this is not wisdom that comes from the world, but from God. Paul explained it to the Corinthians: “Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:18-19a). Am I chasing after the wisdom of the world or am I seeking God and His wisdom as I live my life?

Secondly, I find that godly wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord. Job 28:28 declares: “‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to depart from evil is understanding.’” Proverbs 1:7 states: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.” But I love the Lord. Can I both love and fear Him? Absolutely! When we fear God we recognize Him as holy. We approach Him with awe, reverence, and respect, and submit to His will in our lives. The wisdom that leads to success begins with this proper respect and fear of the Lord. Do I truly recognize this God that I trust and love as the Almighty God of the universe? Such recognition should cause me to fall before Him in submission and worship.

Thirdly, I learn that true success is marked by following the commands of the Lord. In Numbers 14:41-42 Moses warned the Israelites not to go into battle against the Lord’s command: “And Moses said, ‘Now why do you transgress the command of the Lord? For this will not succeed. Do not go up, lest you be defeated by your enemies, for the Lord is not among you” (Numbers 14:41-42). The Israelites ignored Moses’ warning and were soundly defeated. I often tell my kindergartners in Sunday School that God gave us the Bible to help us know how to live. He loves us and wants what is best for us. His commands are not to hurt us, but to help us. It is so sad to think of all the pain and suffering in this world that could be prevented if we would just follow the Lord’s instruction. I have to ask how many of my problems are the result of deliberately choosing my own way rather than following God’s instruction.

Finally, we can ask God for wisdom and help. James 1:5 states: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” He can help us learn how to navigate uncertain situations. He may give us a new perspective or a renewed spirit. However or whatever He chooses to lead us through, we can be confident of the promise in Romans 8:28: “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Success in God’s eyes is a lot different from success in the eyes of the world. It doesn’t matter if you are a king or a servant, a top executive or a janitor. It doesn’t matter if you are married or single, if you have children or are childless. You can be old or young, rich or poor, live in a mansion or on the street. The true measure of success is not where you work, what you own, where you live, or how many degrees you have earned. The true measure of success is a heart fully surrendered to God. Then in His wisdom and in His way, God works in each of us to accomplish His purpose – a purpose for which we were created. And that, my friend, is success!

Dear Heavenly Father,
When my life’s story is over,
When the final page is through,
What will be written by my life?
Will each chapter point others to You?
For it is You who authored each detail,
Who taught me to walk, then dance.
It is You who never forsook me,
Who always gave me another chance.
It is You who saw within me
Something even I could not always see,
It is You who guided my footsteps,
Who sometimes even carried me.
So when my life’s story is over,
What I want others to read
Is not about what I have done,
But what You have done for me.
I want them to read about You, Lord,
To see Your hand on each page,
To marvel at your mercy,
To wonder at your grace.
I want my life’s story
To be lost in Yours, O Lord,
To bring You honor and glory,
King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

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