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We live in such a success oriented culture, not just in the States but even here in Asia. I think it starts when we are young. When we do well in school, in sports, and extra-curricular activities our parents and friends praise us. When we win awards and recognition, we are noticed.
What is it about success?
In many ways it is like a drug. It just takes a small dose of it and then we are hooked. We find ourselves needing to constantly feed our addiction. We want more of it and we need more of it.
It gets even more dangerous when we base our identity on what we have accomplished (success) rather than on who we are in Christ. Our identity in Christ never changes, but what we accomplish or don’t accomplish change all the time. One is permanent, while the other one is worse than the stock market graph.
When we measure ourselves with how successful we are, then we will start doing several things:
2) We will end up concentrating on the wrong things. The hidden poison of success is that we focus and place value on the wrong things. Often times the things that we think are important are not that important; and the things that we think are not important are really important. It is hard sometimes to see things with an eternal perspective. We are truly a mist that comes and goes (Jas 4:14).
3) We will end up criticizing others. When we start getting successful, it is easy for us to look at other people with a slight disdain. It is easy for us to pinpoint all the flaws and weaknesses of others and fail to see those things in us. This is why success is so scary. It ends up blinding us and causes us to get self-righteous.
4) We will end up being complacent. When we are on the top of the ladder of success, we have no reason to depend on God and to work hard. We start to believe that we have become a self-made person. Success one day does not guarantee success the next day.
5) We will end up getting conceited. Something that I try to remind myself with is: “Don’t forget where you came from and where you would be without Christ.” Success has a way of fueling our self-centeredness. We put the focus on ourselves rather than on Christ. This is why not everyone can steward success well.
One thing I have to make clear is that success is not a sin nor is it a bad thing. But we just cannot measure success as the world measures success; and we cannot based our worth or identity on success. As I am getting older, I am realizing that being faithful to God’s calling is the true measure of success (Mt 25:14-30).