Monday, August 18, 2008

What about the way we label success?

Success - many people strive after it, it's what we want for our children - to succeed, yet most of us have a muddled view of what success is. Success at school is getting high marks in exams, after that success is defined by career, partners and possessions. In the last decade a new category must be added to that is 'experiences' - travel the world, jump out of a plane, head off to Glastonbury, go to the best restaurants, meet the people, see the places, listen to the bands, taste life.

The flip side to that is that all these experiences requires money, without it you're left to watching these experiences on TV and the danger is that a whole section of society know they are 'failures' before they even get started. They can't succeed at school, they can't earn the money and they can't afford the experiences. Is it any wonder that many of our nations young people have no hope and nothing to look forward. They have decided that it's better not to join the race if all they're going to do is lose.

None of these definitions of success match up to the one required in the Kingdom of Heaven. I can't find anywhere in scripture which requires a degree of our leaders, or wealth in our treasurers or life experiences in our people. Obedience, faith, trust, integrity, generosity on the other hand, those I can find.

It shouldn't surprise us that the world has a polar opposite definition of success, it would be surprising if it was otherwise. The more pressing issue is when the church adopts the world's measures of success. Simplicity sees success differently - it is choosing a focused way of life that prefers people over possessions, prefers character over career, prefers to give rather than to keep.

From a Christian point of view, simplicity of focus is exactly what Jesus taught. 'Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness'. That is the priority, the kingdom life that strips away the offers of the world to enjoy the best of heaven.


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