Success is something we all want however we choose to define it. As a businesswoman I see people all the time who only want to find the short cut from just starting out to overnight screaming success. They want to skip the hard work part and go straight to the lots of money, lots of stuff, and lots of fame part.
I want to be successful. I want to do well at whatever I try. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, this desire to succeed. It forces me to be intentional at what I put my hand to, and it pushes me to strive to give my very best in what I do.
That said success also has a very dark side. Sometimes I can start equating success with money and levels of respect and recognition. I can begin to feel less if I don’t have whatever I define as “enough.” And enough is a very relative term. I have met multimillionaires who still don’t feel they have enough money, parents who push their kid to into one more activity so they can feel like they’re doing a good job, and people who are terrified of making any kind of mistake in case they lose even one inch of what they deem as being “enough.” It can be crushing, all this striving.
Colossians 3:23 tells us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” When I read this, it puts everything into perspective for me. God is calling me to be my best. He is asking me to give everything I have into whatever it is I do. The balance check for my heart, however, comes in whom I’m doing it for.
Am I striving for my own glory? Am I determined to get ahead no matter the cost to my conscience, my character, or my very soul? Frankly, sometimes I’m tempted to do just that. I can lose sight of the Lord I’m serving and start serving myself. After all, many, many people out there have this mindset, and not just in the business world.
But I have also seen the effects of selling yourself out for success. The path toward self is littered with broken marriages, scarred families, bankruptcies, soul-sapping loneliness and crippling cynicism. There is a steep price to be paid for taking the short cuts. And even if I achieve all I’m striving for, it doesn’t bring happiness. The late Robin Williams is a sad reminder of that fact.
At the end of the day only God brings peace, meaning and joy to my striving. Only when I’m looking to honor Him do we, together, make the best decisions that propel me forward on the inside toward becoming a better version of myself; someone whose life points towards something far greater than this temporary world.
I see these kinds of people all around me, too. They are the ones slowly, steadily building enduring empires. They are far more concerned with legacy than with the lunacy of achieving for achievement’s sake. They build amazing families, solid businesses, and make positive impact on their communities. They are the one at work everyone knows they can depend on, the person everyone knows they can trust. They’re not perfect; they have struggles. Yet they’re admired and respected for the right reasons, and they’re quick to give the honor to God. They are the evidence of what God can do with a man or woman who strives for Him. They remind me of what true success is – a joy-filled life that impacts others.
So when my priorities get out of whack yet again, I remind myself I am not my own boss (thankfully! I think she’s a bit neurotic!! Lol). What I’m doing, however small, serves a much greater purpose, and it’s not up to me to make anything happen. I just work at it with all my heart for God; He worries about the rest. And I feel free again 🙂
For further thought: Colossians 3:22-25 (MSG) “Servants, do what you’re told by your earthly masters. And don’t just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you’ll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you’re serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn’t cover up bad work.”