The Measure of Success
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose.”Romans 8:28
This Sunday we are honoring our graduating seniors who will help lead the service and deliver the Sunday message. Graduation is usually one of those special milestones in life that we pause to recognize and reflect upon. However, this year, graduation has been an especially difficult time for our 2020 graduating seniors. There have been no graduation commencements and no opportunities to really formalize this important landmark. Yet despite the disappointment of what has been lost there is still the hope for the success that is to come.
Everyone desires to be successful in life. Success can be defined in a variety of ways. Many people use the size of a bank account to measure success. Others measure success by the value and number of their possessions. Still others measure success by the achievements, fame or power they may have obtained. And even others measure success by the amount of education they have acquired. One of the purposes of getting an education is to open up doors for one to become successful.
Education is a lifelong process. It doesn’t stop with graduation. It never ends. It only continues. You graduate from high school and attend college. You graduate from college and matriculate into the most important classroom of all, the classroom of life. An education’s never complete. All a high school and college education can do is equip one with the tools necessary to continue one’s education through life. An education can equip you with the tools you need for life, but it can’t tell you how to live. An education can give you some valuable skills, but it can’t tell you the goals and purpose of your life. That’s something that you yourself must discover. Paul once wrote, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to His purpose.” Paul was a man who was better educated than most Jews his age. He’d been taught in the finest Rabbinical schools available. He’d studied under the finest scholars in Jerusalem. No expense was spared for his instruction. Yet for all of his education and learning, something was missing in Paul’s life. He tried to find the missing ingredient by attempting to become the most successful Pharisee of his time. But still it wasn’t enough, until one day, while riding to Damascus, the missing ingredient knocked him off his horse. It was on the Damascus road that Paul finally found his purpose in life or should I say that his purpose in life found him. The purpose Paul discovered was in serving Jesus Christ. Paul viewed service to Christ as a great treasure. Listen to how he describes it in his letter to the Philippians: “But Christ has shown me that what I once thought was valuable is worthless. Nothing is as wonderful as knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. I have given up everything else and count it all as garbage. All I want is Christ…” (Phil. 3:7-8, CEV). What finer purpose in life can any of us have than that of serving Christ? Now I’m not suggesting you need to be an ordained minister. But in whatever field you enter, you can serve Christ. You see that’s our purpose. We weren’t put here to serve ourselves. We were placed on this earth to serve Jesus Christ. Someone once wrote, “One life will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” If you’ve discovered that purpose for your life, then like Paul, you’ve discovered a great treasure. A successful life is one lived in service to Christ. My hope is that our graduating seniors as well as all of us recognize what truly makes for success.
God of all wisdom and knowledge be with our graduating seniors. Help them and all of us to recognize that what truly makes for success in life is a live lived in service to Christ and others.
Questions for Reflection
- What is your measure of success in life?
- Can the usual standards of success (i.e., achievements, money, possessions, power) and the pursuit of them stand in the way of our relationship with Christ. How?
- Paul gave up everything to serve Christ. What have we given up?
- How is living for Christ the true measure of success?