Friday, September 5, 2008

Taking a look at success

I know I said I would be back to discuss success more, but honestly, my brain was fried yesterday and wasn't working properly. I was in no shape to talk about anything more than my daughter calling me a dirt bag (thanks to the movie, Over the Hedge), how to get ketchup out of the carpet, or un-usualness of my daughter dragging her potty chair in the living room to go pee.

So, a day late and I know you must have been waiting in anticipation. Okay, well, probably not, but just go with me. :)

Before we get started I want to thank those who left their replies. It's aways great to look at things a bit differently and challenge yourself in your own thoughts.

Let's take a moment to look at what success isn't. When looking up definitions of success I found this definition on Wikipedia that I found quite funny. It says success is....

a level of social status
achievement of an objective/goal
the opposite of failure

"A level of social status" Wow! I wonder what those people who have achieved social status might say about their success. I wonder if they also feel unsuccessful in their lives. I wonder if they ever feel like they have achieved their objective or goal or if they are always striving for more of something.

My mother-in-law, "Da Mimi", also pointed out some things that success is not found in...

Success not found in riches.
Success not found in fame.
Success not found in power.

If we find ourselves looking for riches, will we ever be satisfied with what we have? If we look for it in fame, will we always be trying to win people over? If we look for it in power, we will ever have enough? I don't believe so.

I think if we look at earthly success, we will find success is our attitude and contentment. If I know that I will never be the greatest painter out there, but if I am content in what I can do then my painting was a success. I need to learn to be thankful for the gifts that God has given me and not be upset when He didn't refine them to the best quality for me also. This goes far beyond just painting.

Hebrews 13:5 says, "Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have."

Can't "money" be substituted for many things in our lives that we try to achieve more of? Think about the things in your life that makes you feel unsuccessful. Is a talent that you wished you could be better at? Is it to be at the top in your corporate office? Is it striving to win that "Mom of the Year" award?

The Bible doesn't tell us that we are wrong if we work hard to be better at something, but what it does tell us is, to be free from the LOVE of these things. Sometimes our love for something pulls us farther away from God. We begin to worship the fame, the money, the status, the ability to perform.

So lets dig a little deeper. What about when our life on earth is coming to an end? We will be thinking about those talents that we refined, about how much money we made in our lifetime, about how many people we won over at that conference? Probably not. I am going to be thinking-Did I love well and did I glorify God in every aspect of my life?

Let's take a moment to look at love. Love is an amazing little word. I believe that love encompasses more than my love for my husband, my family, and my God. God called us to love everyone. The poor and the rich, our friends and our enemies, the kind and the unkind. Everyone. Because we love someone, does that mean that we have to force a relationship that would be unhealthy? No, I don't believe so. But I do believe that we are called to pray for them and be available to help them when they need us or when they are ready to build a relationship again. I pray for the people that I no longer have relationships with. I don't pray that they get their act together but that no matter if I am in their lives or not, that they are happy.

Another part of love is giving of yourself to others. So, I might also ask myself did I serve people well because I loved them? Is a relationship healthy when one one person gives? What if the trees and plants only took in the sun, but didn't provide oxygen for us? If you begin to look, you will see that God designed our world to be this way. He wanted relationships between plants, animals, and people to be built around each other and our willingness to give.

Sadly, our world has become about taking and consuming-doing what we need to do to take care of ourselves and our own interests. If we love our children, why do some people not do the things their children would like to do? If we love people, why do we look the other way when the poor needs our help. We are talking poor in spirit, poor in riches, poor in mind. Why aren't we feeding the dying children and their families? Why aren't we coming to the needs of someone struggling with a sin or emotional distress?

Does your love and sacrifice look like this mans?

Can we love like this and show other's what love really is and in turn, they might love others in this way also? Mark 9:23 says, "Everything is possible for him who believes."

Let's move onto the reason that God put us here. Sometimes I get wrapped up in other things and forget why God put us here on this earth. He didn't put us here as a science experiment. He didn't put us here to watch us running around being consumed by all the fun that we are having. He didn't even put us here to do good things so that we will get to go to Heaven. If His ultimate goal was for us to go to Heaven, He would have put us there in the first place.

He put us here to glorify HIM and in turn, He rewards us with things like financial and emotional peace on earth and a final resting place in Heaven. I believe glorifying God goes back to love, also. If we love Him then we love ALL of His children. If we are willing to serve Him, we are willing to serve others. We do everything good because we love Him and want to glorify Him-not ourselves. But sometimes isn't all that hard to do?

So how does this all relate to success? We looked at success here on earth. We looked at the fact that no matter what we achieve here, we won't be bringing any of that to our final home. We took a look at love and what love can encompass and how we use it to glorify God. We also understand that we can fall short by not always loving others the way we should or by not always giving God the glory.

We aren't going to be perfect. We aren't ever going to be the best at something. We won't always love people like we should. We won't always give God the glory when He does something great in our lives.

So does that mean that our efforts never produce success? YES!!!

Whoa! Do you feel defeated?

You shouldn't because the great thing is, there is Someone who far exceeds our efforts. Where we fall short, He is right there waiting to do the rest. He put His life on it. We can find comfort and contentment in knowing that we will never be as great as Him, but that we give it our best.

Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us. (Ephesians 3:20)

In conclusion (if you are still with me), I believe that we find our success in Jesus. Our proof is His death.

So...."Follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness" (Timothy 6:11).

**Prayer power goes to a friend of Chris' family. They are struggling big time with a very difficult decision about themselves and the ones that they love. God knows their situation. Will you pray with me?

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