Summary: How do you define success? Different people define success in various ways. While one’s achievements along the five p’s may be celebrated in their lifetime, rarely do they lasts past them. What we need to evaluate is true success that
Success and Happiness
How do you define success? Different people define success in various ways. Success to some is the accumulation of goods. To another, success may be academic achievement and post graduate degrees. And yet to another, success may be financial security or a good job. Ron Jenson says the world usually defines success around the five p's: power, position, prestige, pleasure, and prosperity. Successful people are those who enjoy the good life of the five p’s. Advertisers tantalize us with the possibility of their attainment. The media glamorizes the results of having them. Such definitions have many fatal flaws when we consider the experience of the rich and famous. Listen to the comments of these famous millionaires:
John D. Rockefeller: "I have made many millions but they have brought me no happiness."
William Henry Vanderbilt: "The care of $200 million is enough to kill anyone. There's no pleasure in it."
John Jacob Astor: "I am the most miserable man on the earth."
Henry Ford: "I was happier when doing a mechanic's job."
Andrew Carnegie: "Millionaires seldom smile.
The vast majority of people who have won the lottery were actually less happy than before
Boston College has a Center on Wealth and Philanthropy. For the last couple of years, they have been surveying 165 households with an average net worth of 78 million. They asked questions like, “How would you describe the ultimate goal or deepest aspiration for your life?” Graeme Wood of the magazine “Atlantic Weekly” wrote a summary article of the study which stated, “If anything, the rich stare into the abyss a bit more starkly that the rest of us. The truly wealthy know the appetites for material indulgences are rarely satiated by such things. No yacht is so super, nor any wine so exquisite that it can soothe the soul…”
While one’s achievements along the five p’s may be celebrated in their lifetime, rarely do they lasts past them. What we need to become aware of and evaluate is true success that lasts. Consider this: Jesus said: “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” True success in this life requires a fundamental change in one’s thinking from the world’s perspective to God’s perspective. The fact is: What the world regards as success is not what God regards as success. Many people fawn over power, position, prestige, pleasure, and prosperity. God does not.
So instead of determining one’s success by the world’s standards, we should determine what success is by God's standards, for He is the one who has created us, He is the one who will judge us and He is the One who defines the standards for success. Success is much more than the five p’s. So how does God define success? Obedience and faithfulness to Him. God's measure of our success is whether or not we are loyal to Him and obey Him. With the death and resurrection of Jesus, obedience is rewarded with eternal life.
When King David was about to die, he gave his son Solomon the following advice: “Do what the Lord your God commands and follow his teachings. Obey everything written in the Law of Moses. Then you will be a success, no matter what you do or where you go” Notice that David didn’t tell his son to build up his kingdom with great armies, or to gather wealth from other lands, or to build Jerusalem into a great international city or to even build himself a large palace. Instead, his formula for success was to follow God and obey Him. Solomon took his father’s advice to heart, at least for most of his reign, and reflected on it in his writing in Proverbs: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but let your heart keep my commandments, for length of days and years of life and peace they will add to you. Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man.” Proverbs 3:1-4 Hezekiah was an example of that. 1 Chronicles 31:20-21 says: “This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God. In everything that he undertook in the service of God’s temple and in obedience to the law and the commands, he sought his God and worked wholeheartedly. And so he a great success.”
Jesus further explained success when he said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no commandment greater than these" Mark 12:30-31. Loving God means obeying God and being faithful to Him by keeping His commandments for He said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15 And there is a great benefit to choosing to be obedient and faithful to God. First, we gain freedom from the traps of this world—hate, jealousy, addictions, confusion, inferiority complexes, sadness without reason, anger, bitterness, unforgiveness, selfishness and more. Second, our lives begin to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit of God who resides in their hearts—love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control Galatians 5:22-23 Third, we have at our disposal knowledge and wisdom to know what to do and where to turn. All you have to do is ask, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5 Fourth, we no longer have to make tough decisions, between what the world says and wants us to do and what God wants us to do. Why? Because we already made the decision to be obedient and faithful to God. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6 Fifth, when we are obedient to God, we receive the gift of peace, the peace that passes understanding. Phil. 4:7