The winds of the world’s ideas of success swirl around us: the pressure to create and to do, to earn more, to be productive, to be successful. People and families alike have definitions of what it means to be successful: major in that field, get that job, be married by xx age and having children.
When we accomplish only some of these things or feel led by God down a different path, people may deem us unsuccessful or misguided, even pressuring us to do something different. Or perhaps we’ve walked those paths and feel disillusioned by the result. Even the world around us is filled with calls to find our niche, push for popularity, make a six-figure income, hustle unto productivity and more, and it’s everywhere!
How we define success in life is crucial. It affects the trajectory of our entire lives and even colors our moods, mindsets and attitudes. How we define success affects everything! Nonetheless, we who are disciples of Christ should be seeking to walk out our journey with God in His ways of success.
How should a disciple of Christ pursue success? What defines success for those endeavoring to live a godly life? And in discovering a godly definition of success, what should we do to achieve it?
Let’s aim to define success God’s way. Below are three keys to a godly definition of success.
1. Jesus is looking at the motive of our hearts above our performance.
Have we asked God to show us our heart’s true motives in seeking success in the areas of our lives? Jesus is looking at our hearts above all else. What motivates us to be accomplished, to complete our to do list, to accomplish this or create that?
As we look as Jesus’ example in the Gospels, we see what He models as proper heart motives. He did all things to glorify the Father and accomplish the mission He was given: to make the Father’s heart known to us and give Himself as the needed sacrifice to clear man of his sin and guilt, thus restoring our relationship to the Father. (Scriptures for further study: John 1:18, 4:34, 17:24-26; Matt. 20:28; Luke 4:18.)
“No one has seen God [His essence, His divine nature] at any time; the [One and] only begotten God [that is, the unique Son] who is in the intimate presence of the Father, He has explained Him [and interpreted and revealed the awesome wonder of the Father].” John 1:18 (AMP)
Reading our Bibles is how we come to know Christ’s example of pure motives, so we must spend time studying the Scriptures regularly. Studying and meditating on God’s Word with the Holy Spirit’s help will enable our minds to be renewed and our lives transformed to live a successful life God’s way. Learn more about renewing your mind in the Word of God.
2. The greatest commandments are recipes for a successful life.
Jesus seems to define success when He speaks of the two greatest commandments: To love God wholeheartedly, and to love ourselves and others (Matthew 22:36-40). To be successful, love must be our chief motivation.
To love successfully, we must know another definition: how God defines love. Take a look at 1 Corinthians 13 for that definition: Love is patient and kind, love is not easily angered or offended, and so forth.
The God kind of love is one that responds in love even when someone isn’t perfect, even when they have offended us, or are undeserving of love. His Word says,
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13 (NASB)
Above all, love is defined in what Jesus did for us on the Cross: giving His very life to pay for our sins, something we ourselves could never earn or deserve. As previously mentioned, Jesus was truly successful in fulfilling His mission on earth.
The Word of God says in 1 John 3:1, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are…”
3. Possessing eternal life is a mark of success.
Most importantly, success is found in having eternal life. This eternal life comes by knowing Jesus Christ and Father God (John 17:3).
This knowing starts with believing in Christ for salvation and submitting to Him as our Lord, the leader of our lives. Then we continue to do our part by growing in knowing God intimately through daily interaction with Him both in intimate discipleship and obeying His leadership, wanting to love Him in return.
Life eternal means success also because what we sow to God toward eternity will never pass away. Apart from Jesus, worldly things we achieve will not be with us in eternity; however, as we do life according to God’s ways (such as growing in relationship with Him, partnering with Him to expand His Kingdom, and loving others as He loves), we are storing up treasures for all eternity. (Scriptures for further study: Matt. 6:19-21; Gal. 6:8-9.)
Beloved reader, you may feel unsuccessful in this life if you look to the world’s definition of success. Look to Jesus instead. Keep seeking an ever-growing relationship with God through Jesus Christ as you determine to be successful in the eyes of God rather than man. If you seek a life of loving God and others and doing life His way, you are walking the path of godly success.
The things of earth will never satisfy, yet God’s ways are full of life, joy and peace. His ways are what we want. The “good” things offered by the world leave us high and dry, hopeless and unfulfilled. In contrast, pursuing Jesus’ version of success will fuel our lives like no other.
Though the world may define success in having that marriage, that job or degree, in six-figure incomes and popularity, Jesus defines success by our heart’s response to Him and His ways. As we grow to know Jesus and willingly walk in His ways, we can’t help but become people with right motives. We will grow in compassion for others along with God’s love, patience, kindness, gentleness, self-control–all the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
In your goals for success, make it your highest ambition to live in close relationship with Jesus, journeying through life His way with a pure heart.