Success is a myth which most of the industrialized world is captivated by. Since I was a young professional I have been trained to strive for success. At work I must be a success. At home I must be a success. In my community people must view me as a success. “Failure,” they say, “is merely a step toward success. Get up, dust yourself off, and proceed toward success.” I’m allowed to fail, but I’m not allowed to be a failure. Success is the only option. Much of my self-worth is wrapped up in whether or not I view myself as successful.
But you understand that there is no success outside of Jesus. In the end, what is the definition of success? It’s not how much money I’ve made. It’s not how far up the company ladder I climbed. It’s not how well my children turned out. It’s not the neighborhood I lived it or the car I drove or how clean my house was or how many friends I have on Facebook or how many days I’ve been sober. In the end the only measure of the success of my life is whether or not I belong to Jesus.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16), Jesus calls Lazarus the success. Lazarus-the-beggar is the success. Lazarus-covered-in-sores is the success. Lazarus-the-starving is the success. Lazarus-licked-by-dogs is the success. He doesn’t look very successful. Nobody took a class from him on how to have a successful life. Nobody sought his wisdom in addressing life’s challenges. Yet Jesus calls Lazarus a raging success.
Achievement is good. Achievement can glorify God. Achievement helps shape my life and gives direction and even provides gratification. I want to achieve. I want my children to achieve. But achievement is not the same as success. Lazarus achieved nothing, but he was a success.
The measure of the success of my life is Jesus. Following Jesus is success. Bring transformed by Holy Spirit is success. Loving God is success. Loving people is success. Sharing the gospel is success. Shining the light in this dark world is success. In the end, nothing else matters. In the end, I would trade all the successes of this life for this. In the end, Jesus will be the only success with substance.
Success is a myth. Only Jesus matters.