Wouldn’t it be liberating if we had a new definition of success?
Wouldn’t it be liberating if our definition of success was not determined by what others thought of us, by what we owned, produced or amassed, by our popularity, or any other external factor?
Wouldn’t it be liberating if our view of success was in line with our Father’s view of success.
Wouldn’t that be liberating?
I wonder what the Father really thinks is successful.
I look at the topsy-turvy nature of the Kingdom and I wonder.
I look at the life and journey of Jesus as he headed towards the cross. I look at the punctuated moments of “success” – the popularity, the crowds, the healings. And then I look at the many other moments of apparent “failure”. Born in a stable amongst cows and sheep and mess, Jesus was despised, mocked, whipped and suffered death on the cross. Betrayal, rejection, humiliation – He experienced them all.
I wonder what success looks like through the eyes of the cross. I wonder how the Father views success in the light of what we see lived by his very own Son, Jesus.
Maybe He doesn’t define success in quite the same way that we do.
Of course, we know the other side of the cross – Easter Sunday – with death defeated and sin overcome. But without the obedience of Jesus there would be no death on the cross. And then there would be no resurrection, no death defeated, no sin forgiven and no freedom purchased.
I wonder how Jesus could keep going on that path towards the cross when the path of obedience was SO costly to Him. I think some of the answer lies in the fact that He knew His Father, and He knew who He was. He knew He was the son – the one whom the Father loved. And so obedience to the Him, though it came at immense personal cost, was a love response, as He trusted in the Father.
Obedience through gritted teeth only gets us so far. But when obedience is an expression of who we are – kids of the most trust-worthy heavenly Dad – well, then we’re prepared to lose our lives for the one we love. And in doing that we’ll actually find our lives. This kind of love-response is what we see in the life of Jesus.
Maybe success doesn’t necessarily look like a well-paid influential job, academically-flourishing-children or a large congregation. Maybe success isn’t actually about results.
Maybe success is actually quite simple.
What if we took the Jesus-view of success?
What if success was merely about obedience to what the Father asks?
Then success would actually be about obedience to what He’s asked me to do. The end result would then be in His hands – not mine.
Wouldn’t it be liberating to live in that way?
Wouldn’t it be liberating if I lived the life the Father had asked me to live, rather than feeling inadequate because my life doesn’t look like yours. Or yours.
What if we stopped caring about what made us look successful? What if success wasn’t based on our exterior? What if we didn’t allow success to be measured by other people? What if we turned down those voices a little, and turned up His a little bit more?
What if money, clothes, appearance, jobs, houses, congregations, family, marriage – none of those things were the hallmarks of success?
What if we bought into something bigger than we can see in our lifetime? What if we chose to sow into the next generation, and the one after that and the one after that?
Maybe like those heroes in Hebrews we won’t even see what’s been promised.
Those people, were glad just to see these things from far away.. they agreed they were only strangers and foreigners on this earth..they were looking forward to a better home in heaven….
If we know who we belong to, and if we know what He’s asking us to do then whether or not we get the credit, whether or not we get to see the end results, doesn’t really matter.
The thing that matters is whether or not we’ve done what He’s asked us to do.
Sometimes you’ll look at my life, and it might seem hugely successful. Sometimes I might look at yours and think the same. Sometimes I’ll be understood and sometimes I won’t. The same is true for you. Sometimes in the seemingly successful moments we’re not actually doing the thing that the Father has asked us to do. And the same is true in reverse. In the hidden moments, the seemingly insignificant moments, the moments of despair – sometimes in those moments we’re doing exactly the thing that the Father has asked of us. It just won’t always appear successful.
I want my life to be defined by living two sides of the same coin – continuously asking the Father “What have you said to me?” and “Am I living that out?”
That’s the kind of successful life I want to live.