Stolen by Success
I lost my job this March. The company I was working for went through some restructuring and cost cutting, and decided to let my entire team go. Ironically, this is the second time I have been laid off from the same company. The first time was because the company decided to outsource the work I was doing to save money. Unfortunately, the reality of life is that layoffs happen in business for various reasons. Regardless of the reasons, however, the bite on those affected does not sting any less. It sends us into a flurry of emotion and thought, and often makes us question our success in life.
In America especially, we tie so much of our success to our jobs, our positions, the companies we work for, even our tenure. In fact, Esquire magazine published an article in August, 2013 regarding just this topic. Esquire took data from the U.S. Census, Council for Community and Economic Research, local housing and market reports, and interviews to determine how Americans view success across the country. The results were astounding.
Generally speaking, according to the article, people in America, believe that to be successful people must have an income of between $80K and $350K, live in large and expensive houses in elite areas, send their children to private schools, own second homes, have boats and at least one car per person per household, throw debutante balls, own season tickets to sporting events, take prestigious vacations, eat out often, become members of country clubs, live in elite zip codes, and participate in philanthropic associations. To sum it up, Americans generally view success based on wealth, status, awards, honors, associations, education, and material possession.
Because America is so focused on these materialistic signs of success, there is a societal pressure to achieve success based on these criteria. But these criteria are temporal and not dependable. God’s view of success, in comparison, is not temporal. It is not important to him how many cars you have, where you live or what your salary is. God measures success much differently than world measures success, and in reality his criteria for success are in direct opposition to the world’s criteria.
God calls you to do three things that make you successful in his eyes. First and foremost, he wants you to know and follow Christ Jesus as Lord.
· “I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost al things.” (Philippians 3:8)
· “Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.’” (Matthew 16:24)
· “And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’” (Matthew 4:19)
· “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27)
· Second, he wants you to give up your earthly possessions and store your treasures in heaven instead.
· “Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” (Luke 18:22)
· “‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus said to them, ‘no one who has left home or wife or brothers or sisters or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age, and in the age to come eternal life.’” (Luke 18:29-30)
· And third, he wants you to bear eternal fruit for his kingdom.
· “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)
· “I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16)
If you do all of these things, you are successful in God’s eyes. If you focus on God’s criteria for success, rather than society’s, the pressure shifts. You no longer will be concerned with “keeping up with the Jones’s”, and will be more concerned with your eternal contribution to the kingdom of God. Focus on your eternal success rather than your earthly success.
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