What If Success Was Something Else?

Is there a more loaded word in the English language than “success”? The types of people we like to tag as successful center around a narrow list of characteristics. Money is usually the first marker, followed by acclaim, and then maybe influence.

But am I truly successful because I have money? What about acclaim?

close up photo of man wearing black suit jacket doing thumbs up gesture

Photo by Lukas on Pexels.com

I heard, recently, about social media heroes who have had mental breakdowns trying to handle the pressures of managing their acclaim and influence. Would we say they are really successful if their acclaim leads to destructive thoughts and behaviors?

Peter Scazzero says that, “Success is first and foremost doing what God has asked us to do, doing it his way, and in his timing.” There is nothing about money or fame in his definition. In many ways, money and fame might be easier than Scazzero’s view.

Doing what God has asked us to do requires us to understand scripture and to pray, and most importantly, listen. These tasks are not easy.

Then, when we understand what we need to do we have to do it God’s way and in his timing. This is the part that is most challenging to me. I like to develop a plan, to devise a series of steps, and to begin taking action immediately. So many times, especially over the last few months, I have had to battle my desire to execute my plan, in my way, in my timing. The reality is God often moves slower than I would like and his way of managing a situation may not really look anything like the way I think it should be done. So, even if I am doing what God wants but do it in my own way and in my own timing then I am not being successful at it.. You need all three, God’s will, God’s way, and God’s timing.

So, it goes back to the practices of understanding scripture, developing a listening ear for God, and prayer. Also, I would recommend celebrating small successes and not just focusing on the big wins. This way, we get out of the mode of marking our success by the world’s standards.

 

The Christian Life is Hard and That Is A Good Thing

COMCAM Sailors Take On Tough Mudder

I wrote this nearly three years ago and still believe it. I am asking God to change me no matter what it takes. If he needs to tear me down or remove things from my life or bring failure to help me see him and only him, I want him to do it. To encounter the presence and power of Christ is enough for me. That is what I long for.

(Originally published in May 2016)

Have you noticed that in spite of countless listicles and click bait slide shows that give you “Five Tips To The Perfect You” or “This One Thing Will Change Your Life Forever and Its Jaw Dropping,” we are more attracted to difficult achievements than cheap shortcuts that have no substance?

How else can you explain the rise in participation in marathons, Tough Mudders, and Spartan Races? Why are CrossFit and Fitness Bootcamps so popular and P90X before them?

Conventional wisdom would say that no 21st century person would be tough enough to commit to these things despite the positive results. Could it be that the we actually prefer a challenge over short cuts?

American churches have tried for the last 30 years or so to make the Christian life seem easy. Either by reduction of the message or making the hard parts seem unnessary, the idea was that if we portrayed the Christian life as difficult then no one would try it.

It was Chesterton who said, ““The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting. It has been found difficult; and left untried.” But it is that difficulty that you really need. You want to feel as if you are really committing to something that is rich, deep, hard, life changing, and worth it.

A product that is given away or comes cheap seems disposable or lacking but something that you pay a large sum seems worth it because you worked hard to pay for it.

The Christian Life isn’t hard for hard sake but it is hard because nothing else in life is worth more than life transformation and growth. To discipline and die to self and see what Christ can do with our humble efforts has so many more benefits than taking the easier path.

Do the work and see what Christ does with it.