Zuckerberg and the Biblical Meaning of Success

Hugh Whelchel, executive director of IFWE, writes on The Gospel Coalition website:

Any special plans for your 28th birthday? Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a few for his. Four days after his birthday, his company was open to public investors and began trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market for the first time. It was expected to be worth $100 billion.

Twenty-somethings have two ways that they could respond to this news. Either they can be inspired by his entrepreneurial spirit and hard work or discouraged that they will never reach the heights of his success.

Thanks to our culture, most are discouraged. By age 28, many face what’s called a “quarter-life crisis.” This is because of two great lies our culture promotes among children in school, students in college, and professionals in the business world. The first great lie is “If you work hard enough, you can be anything you want to be.” It is often sold as the American Dream, expressed in sayings such as “In America, anyone can grow up to be President.”

The second great lie is like the first one, yet possibly even more damaging: “You can be the best in the world. If you try hard enough, you could be the next Zuckerberg.”

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Whelchel also was interviewed by WORLD magazine’s campus webzine about the Zuckerberg story:

Hugh Whelchel, the executive director of the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics, defines Christian success as “being the best you can be given the gifts God has given you.” Whelchel points to Jesus’ parable of the ten talents, as a reminder that Christians need to be focused on their eternal, not temporary, rewards.

“If I am only a one-talent person, I will never be a Mark Zuckerberg,” he said. “But if I am faithful with what God has given me, my reward will be exactly the same.”

Although college students might be tempted to follow Zuckerberg’s example, that might not be God’s plan for them. Christians are called to lay down what they want to do in order to pursue the work that God has planned for them, even if it means they are not successful by today’s cultural standards, Whelchel said: “If we can get to that place where we lay down all the things we want to be, if we can sacrifice and be what he wants, that is the mindset that the Bible calls us to, where we find peace and great joy.”

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