The Measure of Success

One of my recent Christmas gifts was a pill bottle—not an ordinary pill bottle, but one labeled “Prescription for Success” and filled with uplifting, motivating quotes. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could achieve success by simply taking a pill or punching a computer key?

I’m always torn when I read “success” books. I believe that God created us for success, but my definition and His may sometimes differ. What He’s called me to do is not so much about human success as it is surrender and obedience to His will. I want to know that I have pleased Him and accomplished His purposes in my life, and I want my motives to be pure.

I think of Joseph (Genesis 37-50). He had a vision of God’s plan, but ended up in prison. From outward appearances, he did not look like a success. But ultimately—what a different story! He became an earthly savior. His success was wrapped up in his faithfulness to God and commitment to serve Him, regardless of circumstances.

Then there was poor Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1-25). No one listened to his message, and no one responded to his earnest warnings. Other prophets rejected him. Like Joseph, he was tossed into a prison and worse. But he courageously proclaimed God’s message. Jeremiah was faithful and obedient to his calling, and God called him a success.

Today, people (and even churches) measure success in terms of acquiring wealth and financial security, prestige, or power. This is so far from Jesus’ example of success. He had little and no place to call home. He was rejected by the religious rulers of His day, deserted in His time of crisis, and nailed to a rough, humiliating Roman cross. He was a “failure” by man’s standards, but He accomplished all that the Father sent Him to do (John 4:34; 6:38; 8:28-29; Luke 22:42 ). He declared on the cross, “It is finished!” Because of His faithfulness to the Father’s will, we can have eternal life. Oh, that God would find me faithful and serving, committed to His will. It may mean making uncomfortable, unpopular choices, but it’s the only way to achieve true success.

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