Success, defined as being the master of your own destiny, has become a cultural idol. In Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller says,
“More than other idols, personal success and achievement lead to a sense that we ourselves are God, that our security and value rest in our own wisdom, strength, and performance. To be the very best at what you do, to be at the top of the heap, means no one is like you. You are supreme.”
If we will rediscover the biblical doctrine of work and correctly understand our vocational calling, we must recognize a more timeless, faithful definition of success. The late John Wooden, the most successful college basketball coach in history and a committed Christian, was once asked how he would define success. He replied:
“Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
The New Testament defines success in a similar way in Jesus’ Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30). Whatever they represent—natural abilities, spiritual gifts, or other resources—talents in this parable at least represent the tools God gives us to carry out his mandate in the Garden. We can therefor assume two things:
1. God always gives us enough in order to do what He has required,
2. Whatever the Lord gives us now, He will ask us about later, expecting us to diligently work with these resources to further His kingdom.
We should base our definition of success on whether we have cultivated and invested our God-given talents and, by faith, taken advantage of divine opportunities to use them.
This definition should convict. We are called to greater heights of stewardship then we ever before realized.
It is up to us whether the Master will respond, “Well done, good and faithful servant… Enter into the joy of your Master,” or, “You wicked, lazy servant!”. Love of the Master drives and inspires our work. We’re not working to become the next Bill Gates, though some may be called to such influence. We’re simply working to receive the Master’s praise.
May God Bless and Keep You
Pastor Larry J. Walker, Sr.