Let's start with how Ted Gossard describes success: "I think of success in terms of 'the Jesus creed', that is to love God with our entire being and doing, and to love our neighbor as ourselves." Ted was referring to this passage from Matthew 22:35-40.
And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" And he said to him,
If "all the Law and the Prophets" depend on these two commandments, then any definition of a successful life, must surely take these commandments into account. Starting with the first part of Jesus' reply, let's consider how the first commandment - loving God "with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind" is part of a successful life.
It's not a stretch to say that most definitions of success would not include "loving God" as part of the description. It is simply not the way of the world we live in. Yet, for a Christian, is there a higher measure for success? Shouldn't the worth of all our endeavors be measured in terms of whether we are growing in our affection and knowledge of God?
I know that some of my greatest challenges at work have been opportunities to discover more about God, to learn to trust and treasure Him more. Most of those difficulties resolved into materially positive outcomes but not all of them ended up the way I might have desired. However, because God was at work in my life, all of those situations were helpful to my growth.
Certainly, there is a dimension of success that involves a material outcome like successful projects, wonderful friends, pay raises and awards. But, I think scripture teaches us that there is a greater dimension, hidden from view that is more significant. The joy obtained from a successful project or recognition, though real, is temporal and limited. Getting a glimpse of the God who created all things and yet is intimately invested in our lives, is priceless.
This the privilege of every follower of Jesus Christ - to live our lives in such a way to show that obtaining the love and knowledge of God is far superior than any material success we can receive.
Do you measure success in this way? Is this even the right way of thinking about success or is it just a cop-out for the Christian who can't cut it in "the real world"?
What does it mean to love God with all your heart, all your soul and all your mind? How does it work in your life?
When you hit a tough patch at work or at home, do you even consider how the unpleasant circumstances might lead you to love God more?