Do you know how God defines a successful life? You will be surprise to hear what God considers as success in life! Read this article to grasp a deep understanding of God’s view on success in life
One Sunday afternoon, I overheard Joseph twelve years and his sister Brenda fifteen years discussing on their role model in life. Joseph said he wanted to resemble Mr. Christian a famous businessman because he has a beautiful house, a nice car, and constantly give plenty of money to his children. Brenda on her part said she wanted to resemble her teacher because according to her, teaching doesn’t have much work, and also pays well. The motive behind those children wanting to resemble their role models is what is questionable. Their values are: Wealth and facility. We may wince about those standards whereas, those children, were simply moved by the same erroneous idea about success in life each of us have learnt from our own parents, and are passing over to our own children.
The first question we should teach our children to ask about life shouldn’t be: “how can I make wealth and live an easy life? It should be, “how can I fulfill the purpose of my coming into this world?” Until our values have been revised and the concept of success in life has been clarified and aligned to Biblical standards, life will continue to be a very unsatisfying and frustrating experience.
Because of its complexity, the concept of success in life is one in relation to which many conflicting views are being entertained. Truly, those who are familiar with the investigation which has taken place in regard to what should be considered a successful life will agree that the question of its real nature has given rise to many opinions among men and much discussion among authors.
We think that each individual must define success for himself if it is to mean anything to him. Consequently, success as we have already commented above, has many shapes and colors in the minds of men.
Before we can make an objective evaluation of what God says in the Bible in relation to success, it is determinant to first remind ourselves of the three recurrent views about success entertained by men:
1- According to us human beings,
“Success in life means having a good career.” Many people say if you can work in a career that pleases you and pays you well, you would have lived a successful life. Many view a good career as prove of success in life. For those, who they are, is what they do, consequently they do a lot. They work hours because if they don’t work, they don’t have an identity.
2- Besides believing in profession, men also believe that “success in life means obtaining all the attractive things of the world.” Many people think that to have lived a successful life, you should have acquired the attractive things of life; acquire a good car, a good house, and a big bank account. They work so hard daily to acquire new things because without it their lives have no meaning.
3- Furthermore men define success in life “as having as much fun as possible.” These set of people try sports, entertainments, cults, sex and all pleasurable things because to them, to have tried these things is all that matters in life.
Have you ever thought of success like some of these people? Reason with me, does a successful life consist only in having the career we desire? I don’t believe so. Undoubtedly, it is good to have a good career but, a good career will not necessary make your life successful, except it is the career God destined you for. All careers are good but they are hardly justification for existence; tragically you will never find happiness and contentment in a career that doesn’t fit with your destiny. People who thought they could find life’s meaning and subsequently success in career testify that, “there is still an inner emptiness in the heart; a feeling that career is not all about life.” Often, this emptiness is experienced more starkly when men have actually become successful in their chosen career. I heard a man, testified that he once experienced this crisis at the age of 22, after he had worked for a year as a chemical engineer in a large industrial chemical plant. He had everything which society said he needed to be happy, but he was miserable. He consequently decided to find something more meaningful to him. He searched and discovered a career that permitted him to fulfill his destiny.
Career is good but we may not necessarily succeed with our lives by embracing a career we like except, it fits with our life’s purpose. I have actually seen people change their career the moment they discovered their real vocation.
What do you think of those who believe that the purpose of life is to acquire possessions? Men often mistake prosperity for success in life. Unfortunately, the trappings of success; houses, cars, big bank account do not actually bring about the happiness that we anticipate. We will definitely fail to get happiness from material possessions because by considering properties to be the purpose of life we are leaning the ladder of success against the wrong wall. Success in life is not limited to acquiring possessions; there is more to life than just getting wealth. We all need God, without God to redirect our lives we will live our lives as failures. There are some rich failures, and educated failures. Success is not necessarily having money. Some of those who are considered to be successful according to the standards of this world are dropping up from bridges; they hate themselves. Because they have come all the way to the top of the ladder and discovered that there is nothing there at all.
Let us answer these who seek life’s meaning in pleasure. King Solomon before them made such an attempt, he explains, “I tried cheering myself with wine, and embracing folly — my mind still guiding me with wisdom. I wanted to see what was worthwhile for men to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure,” (Ecclesiastes 2:3). But listen to his conclusion “Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiaste2:11).
Life’s meaning and success cannot be in fun. Any created thing fits in and finds satisfaction when it encounters its real purpose. Men also, ought to be satisfied when they find their real purpose in life, but it has been noticed that life’s exuberances hardly satisfy the heart of men. I have met many successful people who have been dissatisfied with their accomplishments. They have pursued goals and met them, but they have no fulfillment and continually ask why. If men still crave for satisfaction after having all the fun they want, can it no be that life is not only destined for pleasures?
There is surely a better purpose for man’s life than just having fun; assuredly a highest and satisfying level of pleasure is reserved for men somewhere. Listen, you may have all the fun you want, but fail entirely in relation to the true purpose of your life. You may develop your physical being and bring it to a high state of perfection, so that you are an athlete. You may be in perfect health. You may conform to the laws of his physical being and be worthy of the admiration of your fellows. You may develop your mind until you reach out into the starry heavens and read the secrets of the planets. You may delve into philosophy and into science until your mental faculties are enriched and highly developed. You may handle the great problems of life and solve them. You may fill the chair of some great university. Men may marvel at your learning. You may be eloquent until you can influence the multitudes. You may rise to eminence in the political world and be famous. Men may admire and respect and honor you. But life doesn’t only consist in having temporary satisfactions, even your physical body and smart mind may soon fail you. Sooner or later disease will seize upon that body. Sooner or later that mind will lose its brilliance and its power. The end is but the grave. What then? Shall you say that a man, who has lived only for his body and for his mind has truly lived, has truly fulfilled the purpose of his creation? Not so.
As complex and delicate as life is, its purpose cannot be limited to mere pleasure alone. Your capacity to fix and attain goals, and your aptitude to have fun should instead prompt you to seek for more meaning into life, because, all these man’s wonderful intellectual capacity and aptitude, show that the purpose of man’s life is something very exalted. Because our lives are destined for something very exalted than profession and possession, we should seek for true meaning into life. Remember that you can have a lot to live on and still have nothing to live for. True success is when you have something to live for and the real thing to life for is our destinies.
If we view success in life only in terms of having a good career, possessing all the attractive things of the world, and having pleasure and relaxation we will fail totally to the reason of our coming into this world. Besides, this way of viewing success will have many negative effects on the society: It will lead to dissatisfaction in life as we have already observed; we cannot be satisfied with a life that is not meant for us. It will lead to inefficacy in work; because we cannot efficiently do what we are not created for. It will lead to useless competition for we will try to obtain what we don’t have the capacity to achieve. It will lead to unnecessary regrets; since we will always think that life is cheating on us by not giving us what it has giving others.
Life has a more serious meaning and purpose than profession, possessions, and satisfactions. The true meaning of life is found in the Bible.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY ABOUT A SUCCESSFUL LIFE?
Certainly, the proper place to look for life’s purpose and the meaning of a successful life should be the Bible as it was given to men by God who created them.
A keen observation and examination of God’s dealings with his children in the Bible, brings us to the reality that contrary to men, God never defines success in life in relation to material achievement. To God, success in life has never meant having a good, desired career, acquiring material possession, living a luxurious life, and dying having a big account in the bank. God’s highest dream is not to make us rich, not to make us successful according to the standards of this world, or popular or famous. God’s dream is to make us right with him. The Bible acknowledges the importance of wealth but exhorts that it is not the essence of life. “Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions,” (Luke 12: 15). We are asked to rather, “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Math 6:33). And continues “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
The Bible abounds with verses to enlighten us on the meaning of a successful life such as; Jeremiah 9:23-24, Luke 12:16-19, Luke 16:19-31, and many others, but let’s briefly expand on (Mathew 25:14-30, NIV).
The examination of this text leads us to make few observations:
V 14 teaches us that God has entrusted talents to each of us; whether Christians or full time ministers, we are represented in the story by the servants. Mathew Henry, commenting on the gospel according to Mathew, asserts that in this parable, the Master is Christ, who is the absolute Owner and Proprietor of all persons and things, and in a special manner of his church; And, the servants are Christians, his own servants, so they are called; born in his house, bought with his money, devoted to his praise, and employed in his work.
V15, furthermore we learn from the text that, any servant is endowed with different quantities of talents according to his abilities. In Christ, God has endowed every one of us with different talents according to our ability. The words of the commentator Barnes elucidates this better, he says: “God gives people stations which he judges them adapted to fill, and requires them to fill them.” God makes distinctions among people in regard to abilities, and in the powers and opportunities of usefulness, requiring them only to occupy those stations and to discharge their duties there.
V 16-17, furthermore from this text, two of the three servants went and fructified their talents whereas the last one went and hid his in a hole. When the moment came for them to settle accounts, the first two servants where praised for making use of their talents whereas the other servant was blamed for neglecting his duty and opportunity to serve his master.
In conclusion of this text we imply that, a successful life is one which is used every time and everywhere to serve the master. God will praise you at your death, if you use your talents and abilities to glorify Jesus, and serve others. On the other hand failure in life is when we fail to use our talents for God. When it comes to using our talents for God, we don’t choose the profession but ask him for our vocation. We don’t follow gain but follow our destiny which at times brings pain. We don’t compete with others who may even be more talented than us but complete the assignment of others by our own talents. Success in life is not in our desired profession or our acquired possessions or in our expected satisfactions. Success in life is in discovering the destiny God has for us and fulfilling it, it may be a great or small destiny God decides that, what we decide is whether to use our talents for the glory of the master or not.
Never fail to live your life for God because you think you are not talented enough. Men may not automatically accept and approve your services but what matters is whether you are doing what God created you for.
God created all men equal everyone has a talent even if it seems like some people are more talented than others. The actual fact is that some people are more talented in some areas than others. You are likewise talented in some areas than others. What really matters to God at the end is not the quantity of your talents but the use you must have made of them. God does not require us to do as much as those who have greater abilities; but this is not a reason why we should do nothing. Develop your talent, free yourself from inferiority complex, you are equally important. No matter the size and nature of your talent use it for God and his glory.
A successful man is one who receives praises from God when he leaves this world. Success which is esteemed on earth only cannot be considered true success; right success goes beyond the earth and echoes in eternity. The Bible refuses to call anything that will not have standing beyond the passing of time as success. It refuses to call success that which satisfies the standards of man but fails the test of God. Achievement which catches the eye of man but fails to catch the eye of God is not true success. Success is that which is God –approved, beginning in time and continuing in eternity. Greatness and achievement, is doing what God wants you to do and being where he wants you to be. We may possess all the gold of the earth, and have all the pleasure the world can offer but we will never find satisfaction in those things. Accomplishments without an understanding of life’s purpose lead to disillusionment and emptiness.
In my subsequent articles I am going to teach you how to live a God’s type of successful life
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rev. Tchankio Jules holds a BA in theology. He has been pastoring now for seventeen years with The Apostolic Church Cameroon. As someone who has discovered his talent, he is a teacher and preacher of the word of God and has through his ministry influence many to fulfill their God given destinies.
If you have any question related to the Bible, Rev Tchankio can help you answer it.
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