“That you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV.
“Satisfaction is a more reliable measurement of success than the resulting rewards.”
My thoughts today are about the “illusion of success.”
Success is a worthy goal; no one wants to fail, or need do so. But how do you measure success? It is important that you define success and set accurate benchmarks for measuring that. How else will you know when you achieve it, or recognize when you fail? Do not allow other people’s ideas to determine what success is for you. The world’s values are vastly different from God’s.
Someone has written, “As you climb the ladder of success, be sure your ladder is leaning against the right wall.” Will money be your final proof? Will others’ applause or acclaim convince you of success? I saw a bumper sticker that said, “At the end, the one with the most toys wins!” If that is all your success is about, you will never feel satisfaction. Some success is just an illusion, a reality more akin to failure. Read Luke 12:16-21 NIV.
God certainly intends His best for you. In a letter to the church, John wrote, “I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NKJV. You cannot truly experience the best of the first two without substantial attention to the latter – “as your soul prospers!”
My recent release of pastoral responsibilities after more than three decades includes significant reflection about my life to this date, as well as the new season ahead. In both, I share this confidence with the Psalmist, “As for me, I trust in you, O Lord. You are my God. My times are in Your hand.” Psalms 31:14-15. My times have always been; they continue to be – in His hands!
What is the primary reward for a lifetime of industry? I think contentment and satisfaction with what you achieve is a more reliable measurement of success than counting up the external and tangible rewards of your achievement. For me, the things in which I have found the greatest satisfaction and prize any measure of success are family and ministry.
Family. A few years ago we enjoyed a wonderful week in Hawaii with our children, their spouses, and our incredible grandkids. I have never enjoyed a time together more. It was the family, not the place, that made that memorable. I think that Gayle and I will count our success by the fruit of their lives, their faith and values common to our family, the enjoyment one another’s company, and our loving service to the Lord together. I find our life together incredibly satisfying. However anyone else chooses to measure my success or lack thereof, our family and our shared faith are central to my definition of life’s success.
Ministry. I choose to evaluate ministry on the sole basis of obedience and faithfulness to God’s call. Have I done what He asked, and been faithful where He placed me? My honest answer to those questions reveals understanding of my success or failure. I am grateful for whatever measure of outward success experienced these previous years, but in my heart I know that whatever success might be generously attributed, God’s grace and people’s graciousness have been its true source. I have simply tried to obey God and serve Him and others to the best of my large opportunities and smaller abilities. So, I will thank God, my family, and others, and celebrate the years of blessing and privilege that have been, and will yet be extended to me, “as my soul prospers!” If serving God and others are not factors in your list of achievements, your success was merely an illusion.
My prayer for you today is that you value satisfaction in God more than man’s recognition or riches.