Life moves at a feverish pace. The demands of work, of family, of health, of duty, of responsibility drown me in a sea of busyness, yet I keep on running because at the end of that road, maybe I’ll find success.
In these moments, the promises of the Bible seem to disappear. They don’t feel relevant in today’s fast-paced world. In these moments, I feel the temptation to turn God’s words upon Himself and profess, “My ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts.”
The prodigal spirit within me cries out–make a life for yourself. Try as I may, I find myself in the pigsty, feeding on the slop of self-indulgence.
If I am learning anything at all, I learning that success will never be a suitable substitute for significance.
A Longing For Significance
Too often, we use rankings and sales numbers to validate our work. There’s the mom who judges herself on how well-behaved her kids are or how clean her house is. There’s the businessman who counts his worth by reviewing his bottom-line. There’s the retiree who constantly checks his 401k to make sure it’s stable.
As an author, there’s a suspicious longing for affirmation, a desire to know that your efforts are not in vain. My heart begs the question, “Is anyone going to like what I’ve written?” Even when very gracious and positive reviews begin pouring in, I still wonder.
This comparison trap is dangerous and deadly because, once you’ve tasted honey, you long for it again. Pressure mounts to avoid the reality that your greatest successes may have passed– or maybe, you’re not successful at all.
So, we look to the experts for help:
“How to parent like a pro”
“How to become a better blogger and a best-selling author”
“How to become financially free in 18 months”
“How to grow a six-figure business”
Much of this advice is beneficial and needed, but I find that our motives are often the problem. We long to do these things to prove our own value, to show ourselves how significant we are. We’re willing to leverage and utilize every trick in the book and every tool in our belt to make it happen.
I return to the prodigal reference above, we long to make it for our own benefit.
And that’s when I intersect a Truth I cannot escape.
Learning From Luke
The Gospel of Luke was penned by a first century physician. He was thorough and very comprehensive, carefully investigating every detail that he witnessed as he accompanied the Apostle Paul during the growth of the early church. It is in the ninth chapter of this book where I see the words that point to the root of the problem. Jesus is speaking. These are the red words, the important words:
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit his very self?” (25)
Oh how I feel this slippery tension within every longing of my heart.
I find ways to be creative in order to justify my desires. Maybe if I’m clever or witty, it will have a way of hiding the motives.
Every time I come back to this passage, it says that same thing: In an effort to become successful, don’t forfeit your significance. Friends, although I write these words to myself, if you’re still reading, I suppose they may be true for you as well:
The success of the world is not worth the significance of your soul.
Be significant, today.