Here’s a Little Heresy
. . . what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world? —Matthew 16:26
“Life’s not all about success.” Those are fairly heretical words for most of us men—men trying to ascend—men for whom success in careers, success in raising kids, or success in just looking successful have become so important. Planning for success, working for it, worrying about it—they dominate our everyday lives. And, I mean, look around. How could life not be all about success? Well, brother, it’s not. Our King, Jesus Christ, teaches us that it’s not.
“Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot” (Luke 12:15 MSG).
Now, make no mistake, life is partially about success—we’ve got to spend our lives for something, and we should do that something as well as we can. So, we mustn’t forget success entirely. We just can’t make it an ultimate thing. “If you are too obsessed with success, you will forget to live,” wrote Thomas Merton. When we focus all, or even most, of our lives on achieving success, we fall short of the full life Jesus promises in John 10:10. We miss those parts of life we’re meant to devote to the success of others.
How many of us sacrifice huge portions of the lives we’re meant to live—loving wives; spending time with kids; eating meals with families; hanging out with friends; helping people in need—spending too much time on our own success? How many of us are unavailable to those who need us most, whose lives are enriched by us—and who’ll enrich ours, right back?
Okay, so what do we do?
If you struggle with this, start talking about it. Confess it to friends, to brothers in community. Confess it to God. Repent it too. Tell God you don’t want to be that man anymore. He’ll help you change, if you want to.