At Work & Theology 101

Five Thoughts about Success

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If you are like me, your parents might have told you as a child, “You can be anything you want to be,” or “You can be the best in the world.”

Now that I’m an adult, the American Dream is more than just securing a stable future for myself. It’s about becoming an influential person and making a significant difference that the whole world notices.

These aren’t bad aspirations, as long as we put them in perspective. It can be our tendency, however, to let these lofty goals become idols and define what success looks like for us.

In a recent Gospel Coalition article, Hugh Whelchel explains what success is by God’s standards—and what it is not—by examining the Parable of the Talents.

Whelchel makes five important points about success:

  1. Success is a product of our work.
  2. God has given us everything we need in order to do what he has called us to do.
  3. We are not created equal, we have different levels of ability, and we have been called to do different things.
  4. We are to work for God’s glory, not for our own selfish purposes.
  5. We will be held accountable for what we do.

Whelchel concludes,

When we work for God in everything we do, including our vocational callings, we truly find the purpose, fulfillment, and satisfaction that we all desperately seek.

We work at the pleasure of the Lord, driven by our love of God. Our only desire should be to hear him say, “Well done my good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Master.”

Ultimately, success is a product of how faithful we have been to the work God has called us to, not whether we receive recognition from the rest of the world.

So I’m going to keep pursuing my dreams and stretching myself to the utmost to become the best that I can be. And when I’ve done that, I can rest assured that I have been successful by God’s standards, regardless of what’s on my resume.

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