By Theodore W. Higginsworth, © 2016
The years may have gone by quickly. You may have found that everything you have tackled or strived in the past hasn’t quite worked out for you the way you thought it would or should. Is there something wrong, out of kilter, or is this the way life is?
There are hundreds of people I have spoken with over the years who have expressed the above sentiment. I have heard this same story from people attempting something new, something different, only to find that they basically end up in the same old place with the same old lack of what they would consider to be achieving success.
To others, success is something that is found or attained by somebody else but not me.
Let’s take a look at a couple of these attitudes or beliefs and dig deeper into them. By doing so, we may be able to determine what part of the issue or problems is, and subsequently, offer a few comments that could change the final outcome.
Definition of Success
The question is this: is the defined lack of success based on their inability to obtain the financial status that would satisfy their needs? What does this really mean?
It means basically that what a person defines as success is based on some aspect of having money. The money they seek seems to be at a defined level where this person can buy what they want thereby satisfying a need. And, after obtaining these so-called needs, this person believes that by having a certain amount of money will allow him/her to say they are successful.
The other question that is often not expressed as such is even more important. And, that question is this: does financially being able to buy what you need give you success and happiness?
You will notice that part of this definition of success suggests “buying what they want.” But, is the ability to buy what they want the same as buying what you need? Here is a simple example of what this might look like.
Can’t Buy What You Want
Let’s say for example that you currently have a four year old van that adequately provides not only daily transportation to work but also gives you enough room for the rest of your family. The van only has fifty-five thousand miles on it, and has never cost you much for repairs except for normal wear and tear like needing new tires, a set of brakes and the usual oil changes. However, you feel that you want a new vehicle because your van is four years old.
At this point in your career, you don’t have enough money to buy a new vehicle or a new van. But, you want one. You think you’d be happier if you could buy a new vehicle. And, you believe that if you were more successful, you would be making more money. And, if you were making more money, you would be successful. And, if you were successful, you would be able to buy a new vehicle to satisfy your “want” even though your current van operates just fine and adequately meets your needs.
A Want Or A Need
In this case, is the “want” of a new vehicle really a need? I think the answer is obvious. To want is not the same as to need. If the van didn’t work well or was unreliable, if you were paying out money to fix defects other than regular maintenance, and if your van did not adequately provide for the needs of the family, then you would have a “need” rather than a “want”. But, in this example, this is not the case.
The question, therefore, is this person’s desire to make more money, and thus their definition of success, meaningful or not? Does making more money equal success, and does success naturally lead to being happy? Before I comment further, let’s explore another example.
Success Not Meant For Me
In this case, let’s say that you are currently working at a job that pays you enough money so you can adequately provide for you and your family needs. You hold a mid-level position but have never been promoted to management although you have applied and failed several times. You have a nice house, although it is a little cramped; you have an older car but it is a bit small especially when the entire family needs to pack their individual suitcases into the trunk.
Currently, two of your daughters have to share a bedroom but your one son has his own room. Your daughters are constantly complaining they have to share a room when their brother has own room. They tell you it just isn’t fair over and over again.
Despite your seemingly best efforts, you’ve never been able to obtain that promotion. It appears that the promotion will never happen now, nor will you be able to obtain the salary level that went with the promotion. You know that an increase in salary would allow you to buy a new and bigger vehicle to adequately provide the room you need for your family, and, at the least, build on an additional bedroom so both your daughters could have their own room.
However, you have come to believe that you are not destined to ever get a promotion. You believe that these kinds of management positions are meant for a small group of people and you are not one of those persons. You now are convinced that your position you currently hold is the end of your career; that’s just the way your life was meant to be.
In both of these cases discussed, there are some very apparent conclusions to draw.
The first conclusion is that it depends on a person’s belief system how they define success. For one person, the definition of success seems to be based entirely on their ability to acquire enough money so that they can buy what they want which is quite different from what they need. To this person, success appears to be linked entirely to the amount of money made, and furthermore, success appears to be the defining element in order to say they are happy.
To another person, success appears to be something that can never be obtained because they are not meant to be promoted to a management position. With this person, they have come to believe that success is only for a few people and that they are not destined to be one of these people.
However, in both situations, neither person is correct. Why?
First of all, success doesn’t mean having money. Nor does it mean to have enough money to buy what you want. Nor does it mean that money equals success and success equals happiness. For far too many people, material possessions once attained soon lose their lustre. In other words, a new house, a new car, a new boat, a new exotic vacation never lasts beyond the moment of acquisition. Why is this?
It is because an inner need for happiness does not depend on money, acquisitions, position, or fame. As well, success isn’t about reaching the top of the corporate ladder, or reaching stardom, or the leader of a country. Success, instead, is a peace that comes from knowing and following Jesus Christ.
This peace is a culmination of knowing that everything we do, every job we have is to be done to the best of our abilities as we are work for God in everything we do.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23
No matter our occupation, no matter if we have a lot of money or not, no matter if we have reached the top of the ladder in our chosen career or profession or not, no one is any better in the sight of God than anyone else. It is of no relevance what we have on this earth; it is a matter of what treasures we store in heaven. When you are a Jesus follower, you know that you are only a visitor, a foreigner in this world. You live in this world but you are not of this world. Your real home is in heaven. To want money, wealth,and riches is choosing to worship an idol because what you possess on this earth you love more than God.
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:21
So, what is the definition for success? Is it a behavioral one or a mental one? To me, success is spiritual; the knowledge that we as humans are only on this earth for a minuscule amount of time compared to eternity with God the Father. Our earthly success, on the other hand, is in His hands. It doesn’t matter what we want or try to do if it is not God’s will.
As James 4:15-16 says, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that. Otherwise, you are boasting about your own plans, and all such boasting is evil.”
You have an opportunity to choose what your definition of success is. You have a choice to be consumed by earthly things, or to put your faith and trust in God. You have an opportunity for peace on this earth and the opportunity to live forever with God in heaven. What do you choose?
Inspirational Quotes for Reflection:
“God isn’t intimidated by your questions, and He isn’t surprised by your doubts.” Cary Schmidt
“Faith is a NOW thing and not a maybe or someday thing, and even though it may speak of something yet to come it exists and is at work today.” Tunji Ogunjimi
“Isn’t it amazing the things God Almighty can do when we put our trust in him and let him work in our lives?” Pat Gelsinger
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