Our culture is inundated with how to achieve success. Not only are we bombarded with how to be successful, we are painted a black and white picture of what success looks like. To our cultures standards, success looks like good health, six pack abs, nice house and car, and an extremely successful business or job. Think about how social media has influenced the picture of success for wherever you are in your life. If you’re a pastor, then check out the biggest names in the church world. If you’re trying to get healthy and in shape, then check out all of the fitness models. If you’re a mom or dad, then check out how Sally and Bob (I don’t know a Sally and Bob) are buying their kids the latest toys and hottest clothes.
And as a pastor, I am guilty of wanting this picture of success. I want my sermons to be successful, I want our numbers to be successful, I want my staff to be successful, I want my family to be successful – and I could go on forever here.
But what if I told you that success isn’t the end game? What if looking like everyone else isn’t what we’re supposed to do? Now, I don’t think that wanting success is a total bad idea, it just cannot be the main idea. Do you know how exhausting it is trying to live to the standards of success in our world? Jesus paints a clear picture for us about the one thing he wants from us in Matthew 25:21, “His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ I’m going to give you the most freeing thing you will hear today: Jesus never called you to be successful, he called you to be faithful.
The problem is that since we are too caught up with trying to be successful, faithfulness takes a back seat in our priority list and we miss what God is trying to do in and through us. God wants us to be faithful with both the large and small things of life, simply because he’s looking for a people who will place more value in faithfulness over success.
But maybe, just maybe, for those of us who are comparing our lives to the rock stars of social media, maybe we ought to redefine what success looks like. Because success should mean that we are being faithful in what God has entrusted us with.