Today is post number 3 of 4 to promote the book Live Second: 365 Ways to Make Jesus First, and I’ll be looking at how we define success.
I live in the United States of America…land of the free…land of opportunity. Here you can be almost anything you want to be. Our way of life pushes us toward success, at least how the world views success. You often hear people speak of the American dream. Good job…nice house…wealth…etc. While there is nothing wrong with living the American dream it can make you forget true success and leave you empty.
I said to myself, “Go ahead, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy what is good.” But it turned out to be futile. I said about laughter, “It is madness,” and about pleasure, “What does this accomplish?” I explored with my mind how to let my body enjoy life with wine and how to grasp folly—my mind still guiding me with wisdom—until I could see what is good for people to do under heaven during the few days of their lives. I increased my achievements. I built houses and planted vineyards for myself. I made gardens and parks for myself and planted every kind of fruit tree in them. I constructed reservoirs of water for myself from which to irrigate a grove of flourishing trees. I acquired male and female servants and had slaves who were born in my house. I also owned many herds of cattle and flocks, more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. I also amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I gathered male and female singers for myself, and many concubines, the delights of men. So I became great and surpassed all who were before me in Jerusalem; my wisdom also remained with me. All that my eyes desired, I did not deny them. I did not refuse myself any pleasure, for I took pleasure in all my struggles. This was my reward for all my struggles. When I considered all that I had accomplished and what I had labored to achieve, I found everything to be futile and a pursuit of the wind. There was nothing to be gained under the sun.
Week 8, Day 5 in the book begins with verse 11 of the above Scripture. After reading it I thought the whole passage was appropriate. So many time we (I confess) fill our lives with all we have done. We seek after pleasure, money, stuff thinking it will give us purpose and meaning in live. But what does it really do? “I found everything to be futile…there was nothing to be gained under the sun“. Pursuit of our own agenda is futile. God has a plan for us, but he allows free will. We choose our own path and it leads to nothing. What then? Where do we turn?
I spent years of my life pursuing the wrong things. I worked for years in a job I absolutely detested. I know Christians aren’t supposed to hate, but I hated everything about that job. Still I stayed there for 8 years. Why??? Easy…lifestyle. I had a job that paid well and had to support my lifestyle. Nice house…stuff…etc. I was pursuing my own personal agenda and didn’t want to give that up. Looking back I wished I had made changes much sooner.
After 8 years I was just fed up and burnt out. I made the decision to leave that job, and that’s really when things got ugly. I didn’t want to change my lifestyle, but I was forced to. Finding another job was much more difficult than I had imagined, and I quickly realized that I was not going to be living the same comfortable life I had for years. I could now go into lots of detail about the entire process, but that would take far too long. I’ll make a long story a little shorter.
I was unemployed and then under-employed (working part-time for $9.00/hr) for about a year and a half. During that time I had to seriously look at my life and decide many things. I had to make some tough decisions, and I was faced with many trials. It was during that time the divorce happened. The whole job situation was certainly a part of that, but a very small part. Regardless, my selfish ambition had cost me everything I had worked so hard to build. My marriage is over…the house I worked hard to have is no longer mine…the hours I put in at my previous job & all the business travel was not appreciated…everything was in vain.
During my job search I wasn’t just looking for another job. I was seeking a career change. Looking back I was also searching for something more. For years I had defined success the way the world does. I found myself changing my perspective on success. It’s not about the money or the job title. Today I am in a new career, although I still do much of the same job I previously held. The difference is that I now work for a non-profit that helps people daily. I see first-hand lives that are being changed. My view of success is no longer the same. My success comes when I see someone who is disabled or disadvantaged working at our company. I know that because of what I do every day, another disabled or disadvantaged person will have an opportunity to better themselves. My success is not about me. It comes from the success of others. The people who work for my company make me successful and are an inspiration to me every day.
For the first time in my life I feel as if I’m getting it right. I spent too many years doing thinks my way. Now I’m trying daily to seek God’s plan and do His will. I don’t claim to always get it right, but I can see differences in my life. Success isn’t anything we do. It is what He does through us. I’ve totally changed my view of success and my goal is now to live second every day. Then I will truly be successful.