What Is Success?

Most definitions include references such as; achieving goals, acquiring wealth, prestige, favors, and power.  “Successful” people often enjoy what is called “the good life”-being financially and emotionally secure, and being surrounded by admirers as they enjoy the fruits of their labors.  Often they are leaders, shakers and makers, and trendsetters.  Most of the time “successful” people know who they are, where they are heading, and walk self-assuredly to meet their goals.

Sometimes I tend compare my life with the world’s standards of success.  When that happens I get extremely depressed.  Unfortunately this happened to me this summer.  In the world’s eyes my husband and I are not a success.  But this summer the Lord reminded me of the Prophet, Jeremiah.  By the world’s standards Jeremiah was a miserable failure!  For 40 years he served as the Lord’s spokesman to Judah; but when Jeremiah spoke, nobody listened!  Wow, does that sometimes sound familiar?  Especially as parents of teenagers!  HA!  Jeremiah unswerving and fervently urged the people of Judah to act, yet nobody moved!  He was poor and underwent severe circumstances to deliver his prophecies.  He was thrown into prison (chapter37) and into a cistern (chapter 38), and he was taken to Egypt against his will (chapter 43).  He was rejected by his neighbors (11:19-21), his family (12:6), the false priests and prophets (20:1-,2 28:1-17), his friends (20:10), his audience (26:8), and the kings (36:23).  Jeremiah stood alone, proclaiming God’s message of doom, declaring the new covenant, and weeping over the destiny of his much-loved country.  In the eyes of the world, Jeremiah was not a success!

But as I continue to study the book of Jeremiah as well prepare for the bible study(Jeremiah – Daring to Hope in an Unstable World by Melissa Spoelstra) we will begin September 14th in our community(Schuylkill County, PA), I am reminded that success as measured by God, involves obedience and faithfulness.  Regardless of conflict and personal cost, Jeremiah boldly and faithfully proclaimed the word of God.  He was obedient to his calling.  I am reminded of scriptures that bring this point across:

“ A faithful man will abound with blessings, but he who hastens to be rich will not go unpunished.” Proverbs 28:20 (NKJV); “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:21 (NKJV) “Therefore let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator.” 1 Peter 4:19 (NKJV).

Yes, I am reminded to take my eyes off the world’s standards for success and strive for the Lord’s standard of success – obedience and faithfulness.  When the uncertainties and every day demands of life get me down; when relationships struggles, health challenges, financial strain, and life in general seems to make life seem overwhelming – it is in those times that we often worry, fear, doubt or become bitter.  But our God offers us a better choice!  He calls us to surrender our wills to His and place all our hope in Him!  When we continue to surrender our wills to His and be obedient and faithful to Him –we are reminded just how truly blessed beyond all measure we really are!


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