Recently I read this quote by Rick Warren the Pastor of Saddleback Church and I thought it had a lot to say to us who claim to be Christ's followers and what it means to be successful. Here's what it says:
“Being successful and fulfilling your life's purpose are not at all the same thing; You can reach all your personal goals, become a raving success by the worlds standard and still miss your purpose in this life.” ― Rick Warren
As I read this I started asking myself some questions:
- Is it possible to be successful but be successful at the wrong things?
- Can I be successful and still not fulfill my God given purpose?
- What are God's standards for success for His people?
As I pondered these questions 2 thoughts came to mind that I believe are so very important to remember:
How horrible it would be to stand before God on the Last Day (Judgement Day) and begin to share with Christ how I had accomplished so many great and different goals only to hear Jesus reply with, "But that's not what I had ask you to do or accomplish!" Wouldn't it be terrible to have placed your ladder of success and ascended it - only to have realized once you got to the top that you had place it on the wrong wall! I want to hear the words of my Lord say to me, "Well done good and faithful servant."
God's plan and ministry for us is to be His ambassador to this spiritually dark world by making God's appeal for people to be reconciled to Him as if it was God Himself making the appeal through us. Therefore, we are to be His ambassadors that intentionally engages in the ministry of reconciliation. That is accomplished through disciple making. So, the question bids an answer: How successful are we at making disciples for Christ?
Success from God's perspective is very different from success in the world's perspective! The world says you are successful if you accomplish great results but the Bible says we are successful when we are obedient to what He has commanded of us.
Over and over again we hear the Bible teach that obedience is better than sacrifice; or for us to be doers of the word and not hearers only, and to teach new believers to obey all that Christ commanded. Jesus even shared that being obedient to Him is an expression of our love for Him.
We work and train to do our best at what Christ commanded but in the end success isn't defined by the results but by our willingness and faithfulness to do what He said. The results are in God's hands but our obedience is in our hands.
So, in the final analysis as Followers of Christ we need to intentionally pursue the role of being Christ Ambassadors, to sharing the Gospel to those still lost in spiritual darkness and to obeying all that Christ has commanded. If we can do that then we are successful!