How do you define success? How do the people around you define success?
Is success about being a good person? Having more money? Being loved by friends and family? Doing community service? Being active in church? Having more free time? Achieving careers goals? All of the above?
If we’re not careful, our view of success can become defined by our culture rather than the kingdom.
As Christians, it’s easy to adopt a “secular success” without even realizing it. We assume that success = more, bigger, better of what the people around us value. But from a kingdom perspective, it’s often just the opposite.
Kingdom success is defined by service, sacrifice, faith, obedience, fruitfulness, etc. all within the context of loving relationship with God and others. Sometimes it means loss, pain, persecution, rejection, obscurity, monotony. Sometimes it results in less popularity, not more. It’s about “Who has God called us to be and what has God called us to do?” not “What is our culture doing/who do we want to be/what do we want to do?”
When we accept the world’s paradigms instead of being shaped by Scripture’s, we can end up believing that our successes are failures, and our failures are successes.
When we take the long view (both backwards into the lives of the saints, and forwards into eternity) we see what really matters and what success really means. It’s the short view that trips us up and gets us high-fiving each other for the wrong things (or the right things done without love).
I’m not trying to be Grumpy Christian Guy here, I promise. I have a long way to go in my own journey of faith, and I’m not perfect. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the things on that top list. They just don’t happen to equal kingdom success on their own. They’re incomplete and empty apart from love (1 Corinthians 13).
The reality is that there is a TON of joy and a lot of rewards that go with true kingdom living. It’s the best way to live and the best way to die. We just miss out on all the good stuff when we buy into the world’s lies. And that’s a shame.
So I’m constantly reminding myself of what success really means these days, because I’m prone to forget. How about you?
P.S. Check out this awesome message from Doug Fields for more… http://www.saddleback.com/mc/m/bb18e/