Each of us wants to be successful; we all want to win. There is an innate drive inside of us that compels us to compete and prove we are the best. Being the best means we are successful. If we drive the right car, live in the right neighborhood or have the right job, we consider it proof that we are winning and have become successful. For all those I know who have found themselves driving that car or living in that neighborhood, the vast majority are not entirely happy. If that’s all there is to their life, then a sense of emptiness remains; they lack a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Rabbi Harold Kushner once said, “The purpose of life is not to win. The purpose of life is to grow and share. When you come to look back on all that you have done in life, you will get more satisfaction from the pleasure you have brought to other people’s lives than you will from the times that you outdid and defeated them.
Life is more than keeping score, and this is especially true for followers of Christ. Our goal should not be to outdo someone else, but rather to out-love and out-serve everyone. Our heart’s desire must be to live a life that looks like that of Jesus. If we concern ourselves only with that, we will find our lives are far richer and more fulfilled than if we had achieved material success beyond measure. We are spiritual beings at our core, and spirit cannot be soothed or satisfied with the physical. Beyond what it does for us emotionally, anything we can touch, taste, smell, or hear will never fully quench the longing we have inside. It is only through spiritual communication with God and sharing His love with others that we will find peace and contentment. Nothing satisfies except Jesus.
It is incredibly easy to get caught up in the ways of our culture, but we are called out of a life of normalcy to live as strangers in this world. We are set apart to be different. If we chase after the things that society dictates we must have, then we are worshipping the material rather than the spiritual, and we are not following Jesus. Christ never cared for temporal possessions. He warned His followers that they would have no place to call home and sent them out into the world virtually empty handed (Luke 9:57-58; Luke 9:1-6). The reality was that while they may not have had anything they could physically hold, they were filled beyond measure because the spirit of God was within them.
True success is measured by how closely we are following Jesus. It is determined by our resemblance to Christ and by doing the things He told us to do. If we are continuing His mission on earth, then we are indeed successful. While it may not look like it to your friends, you know the peace and comfort that is within. You can’t put a price tag on the feeling that comes from being fully surrendered to Jesus. In the midst of the worst of troubles, He provides calm and courage. In the darkest night, He provides rest and comfort. Nothing is impossible through Jesus; nothing can stop us when we are truly following Him. There is no greater power than the power of God, and this power lives within you. You can keep your cars and your fancy neighborhoods. You can keep your physical power and influence. I have found all I need in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the true power, and true success is found only in service to Him.