Perspectives on Stewardship

How Do You Define Success?

Posted by Kent Anderson on

Question: How do you define success?

Have you structured your life around achieving your definition of success - setting your priorities and goals, your financial budget, how you use your time and develop your skill set toward that definition of success?

Are you on track?

Our society typically measures success by our wealth, our income, or the job status we’ve achieved and often we structure our lives around achieving those objectives.

Certainly most of us want a good job and want to provide well for our family, to have a nice home and drive a nice car. And there’s nothing wrong with those things, and there’s nothing wrong with setting goals. But, as we’ve previously noted, Solomon cautions us in Ecclesiastes 5 that “He who loves money will not be satisfied.”

Are you satisfied? Does satisfaction play into achieving your definition of success?

Now, a harder question: How do you define failure?

Have you ever failed? Have you ever not achieved a goal or objective?

Have you ever lost a job, or had a financial or other setback? Perhaps you didn’t make as much money or accumulate the wealth you planned to have for retirement? What then? How did you react?

Did your failure impact your self-esteem or sense of self-worth? Were you tempted to quit or give up?

Christian pop-music artist Lauren Daigle’s award winning song “You Say” begins with:

“I keep fighting voices in my mind that say I’m not enough...Every single lie that says I will never measure up.”How do you view yourself? As Lauren asks - do you measure up?

It’s reported that:
- Oprah Winfrey was fired from her journalism job at the age of 22 and was told that she was unfit for television news.

- Walt Disney was fired from his animation job at a newspaper because he lacked imagination and didn’t have any good ideas.

- Michael Jordan didn’t make it onto his high school varsity basketball team.

- Thomas Edison failed more than 1,000 times in his effort to invent the light bulb.

Initially none of these people “measured up”. But, rather than give up, we know that each of them persevered. Despite initial failures, it’s instructive to know that each of them pushed forward and went on to become highly successful in their chosen fields.

Certainly we encourage our children to get back up when they fall. And no doubt that perseverance is important to achieving any objective. But is that all there is to success - just persevere?

Another question: How should we in the church, as followers of Christ, define success?

Is it the same way the world does - net worth, income, homes, cars, status?

More importantly how does God define success?

Scripture provides some words of caution:

In Psalm 49 we are warned not to be awed by the rich for they take nothing with them when they die.

Proverbs 11 tells us our riches will not help us on the day of judgment.

In Proverbs 30 we are taught to pray “Give me neither poverty or riches, that I not be full and deny you, or that I not be in want and steal, profaning Your name.”

And in I John 2 we are cautioned not to love the things of the world... the boastful pride of life is not from the Father, but is from the world.

What does God say of us? What value does He place on each of us? Do we measure up?

We’ve all failed at some point. In fact, Scripture makes it clear in Romans 3 that “All have sinned (failed God’s standards) and fallen short of the glory of God.”

But, thankfully in Romans 5 it tells us “God showed His love for us that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Continuing in Romans 8 we are told that “He did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us.”

Wow! Whether we have failed or succeeded, we are of such great value to God that He was willing to give His only Son to die for us.

Lauren Daigle’s song goes on to say:

“The only thing that matters now is everything You think of me. In You I find my worth and my identity, it is in you Lord that I find my identity. When I don’t belong, You say that I am Yours.”

Most would agree that one who has achieved the rank of general in the military has succeeded. Yet, in his fascinating memoir Never Surrender, Army Lt. General William Boykin, former commander of Army Special Forces, shares how he dealt with some of his greatest challenges during his many years in the military. At times tempted to quit and surrender, he persevered by drawing upon his faith in the Lord.

Perhaps his most challenging time was when he was wrongly accused of being an “intolerant extremist” simply because he dared to speak openly about his Christian faith. Yet during those trials he says God constantly reminded him of His presence.
Boykin shares that success came when he learned to get beyond not only his weaknesses, but also his strengths, learning to rely on God alone.

As a believer, it’s important to persevere, but we must learn to do so not relying on our own strength and abilities, and learn to rely solely on God.

In Matthew 6 Jesus cautions us not to store up treasures on earth but treasures in heaven, for where our treasure is (what we value), there will be our heart. Then in Luke 12 Jesus cautions us to be on guard against every form of greed...that life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.

In God’s eyes, success lies in having our priorities right, following Christ’s example, striving to become more like Him, loving God and loving others, not storing up treasure on earth but treasure in heaven, by serving others, not worrying but trusting Him to meet our needs, using what God has entrusted to us for His purposes.

Lauren’s song goes on to conclude:

“Taking all I have and now laying it at Your feet, You have every failure God, and You have every victory. You say I am loved when I can’t feel a thing, You say I am strong when I think I am weak...And I believe, oh I believe - what you say of me, I believe.”

Are you on track?

More to come...

Do you have questions about managing your finances from a Biblical perspective?
For guidance feel free to call Kent Anderson at (239)596-8600, x254.

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