Jesus did not say, “Be successful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” I wonder if many of us think that is what He meant.
Have you ever noticed that our culture tends to push all of us toward success. We need to be successful on our jobs, successful with relationships, successful in our finances, etc. This crazy drive for success often nudges us towards self-centeredness. We act out selfish desires at the expense of others. We develop volumes of pride at the littlest of accomplishments. We constantly compare ourselves with whoever we perceive to be somewhat less successful than us. Our infatuation with success moves us through life at a hectic pace and we expect everyone else to support our insatiable and addictive fix for success.
Certainly one issue with our bent toward success is that we are seldom successful on our own. We need the help of others. I cannot be a successful parent without some cooperation from my children. For the most part, life is a team sport.
Jesus did say, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” Revelation 2:11b
Maybe in stead of aiming for success, we should simply focus on faithfulness. I can be faithful in spite of those around me. Aiming for faithfulness allows me to reach for something over which I have significant control. My faithfulness is pretty much totally dependent upon me and the choices I make. My faithfulness may not look successful but being faithful means I made the most out of what God gave me. So I aim for being being a faithful dad, a faithful husband, a faithful minister, a faithful encourager, a faithful coach and any other role that I fill. Overall, I want to be a faithful lover of God and a faithful lover of people. Those two things are significant to God and paramount to me if I am going to show up faithful. What does that leave me with? I will work at being faithful in my small little kingdom and I will trust God to be faithful at being Lord of the Universe. I do not want His job.