“Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.”
–Joshua 1:7, ESV
People define success in different ways. For some, success is having an exciting and fulfilling career. For others, it’s about having a tightly-knitted family. For others still, success is determined by their wealth and possessions. And for many people in this world, success is a combination of all of the three items mentioned above.
But for those of us who follow the Lord Jesus Christ, must this be our all-encompassing picture of a successful life too? No doubt there’s nothing wrong with having a great job, a close family, and acquiring material possessions. But what if we don’t achieve these things at all? Are we then deemed to be less successful than others? Many people in our world today are frustrated with their lives because they compare themselves to others and find that they’re missing one, two, or all three of the elements that our world considers for personal success: a career, a family, and wealth. But here’s the good news: in God’s economy, success isn't defined by these things. It doesn't even come close.
We need to restore God’s scorecard for success. It’s not about achieving our personal dreams and ambitions. Success is and will always be about God and His glory. Our greatest fulfillment in life shouldn’t come from the completion of our personal desires. That would be too self-centered in a world where God reigns as King. Our greatest fulfillment in life should come from completing the desires of God. And as I’ve mentioned before, that means knowing God and doing the things that greatly matter to Him.
At the end of the day, it is God—and not the world—who determines whether we’ve been successful in this lifetime or not. At the end of our lives, here’s what we should long to hear from our Master: “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21, ESV). And that commendation comes with being faithful to all that He has called us to do. So God’s approval is really what we’re after here. The world may not approve of us because we haven’t attained the things it considers successful. That’s OK because that doesn’t matter in the end. God’s approval of who we are in Christ and what we’ve done in His name is ultimately what matters. And so I think for many of us, we certainly need a new scorecard for success.