“Success is to lead a happy and fulfilling life helping many others also live successful lives by making a difference in their lives”
Every person’s concept of success differs with the others, while for one being very rich may define this some others may feel helping others acquire skills to be rich may be it. Still someone may see physical, emotional and social health to be the main parameters some others may take into consideration something else altogether. The reason for this variance in defining success is because it is a subjective factor and depends on perception of self and others. It is also in the individual attitude, mindset and even cultural set up of one’s society/surroundings and on one’s background and upbringing. However in most cases one can equate the sense of achievement coupled with contentment and satisfaction to be a success or a major portion of it. But then these are shifting milestones and as I reach one the next are visible in the distance and one victory beckoning the runner to the next. Success in itself has insatiable appetite and keeps on expecting and demanding more and more with the final assessment being left to the mourners and friends at the end of the journey. But then how do we measure and define success and on what scale will we be measured on the day of judgement?
What are the parameters of success? – To define and measure success one has to first have a generally acceptable scale for that, failing which it will be a futile attempt. We as believers are subjected to a different yardstick for our actions for we are at a great advantage in comparison to others- we have within us the Spirit of God guide and empower us. We hold dual citizenship – we are citizens of this world and its nations while being “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). This and the advantage of “being the children of God” we have this special status since “our citizenship is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). This places us at an advantage and we become eligible for a different set of standards for measuring our success and we shall see these and assess ourselves.
Optimal use of ‘Talents’ – Our Savior illustrated the kingdom of heaven principles to us through the parable of the “master and his servants” where the servants were given varying number of ‘talents’ to trade and manage in his absence. One received five, the other two and still another one talent; “to each according to his own ability”. The one with five talents traded with them and made another five; the one with two gained two more but the one with one talent hid his money in the ground. On return the master sought account from them and the two servants who had used the given talents wisely to double the same not only earned praise but also called to “Enter into the joy of your lord”. The unprofitable servant lost what was given to him and was cast into ‘outer darkness’ (Matthew 25:14-30).
The Master is seated at the right hand of the Father and He has given each person who has been born certain gifts to use them profitably for the good of others. The believers have been given ‘gifts of the Holy Spirit’ according to the tasks designated for each one and we are required to use these gifts for the furtherance of His Kingdom and winning souls, that are in darkness, back to Him. Our task has been defined by the Lord Himself in the form of the Great Commission and we shall be held accountable for the results that we have achieved during our life. How we use the given talents for the furtherance of His work, gets continuously reviewed and additional gifts are given or the already given are withdrawn. Our success is measured on this one scale by our Lord.
We are neither chosen for what we are and what we own nor for any of our capabilities but according to the use that we can be put to by the Lord. Once chosen He provides the resources for performing the assigned tasks, “moves ahead of us to straighten the crooked paths, opens the closed doors and breaks the restraining bonds to set us free” to achieve results (Isaiah 45:2). Peter had deserted the Lord after denying Him thrice, yet he was tasked to “Feed My lambs; take care of My sheep and feed My sheep” (John 21:16-18).
Optimal use of the power of prayer – Our Lord set a clear and unambiguous example for us to follow regarding the use of the power of prayer in our daily lives. Prayer on the one hand is to worship and thank God the Father for His blessings of the past, fellowship with Him to get to Know Him, place our concerns before His throne of mercy, seek directions for the future regarding His plan/will for us and also to get empowered for executing the directions. Before and after every major event, Lord Jesus bowed down before the Father to seek this Divine power and He acknowledged transfer of this same power during healing of the woman with twelve hears of blood flow. Apostle Paul also mentions the same power through which God brings about “exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). This is the power of the Holy Spirit in us and the renewal of the power through prayer is actually approval of the Father of what we ask. The power is ‘dynamic’ and regenerates itself like a dynamo that generates power and blessings of God unleash this in us to perform the tasks.
Since prayer is the only way that we give account of ourselves to God daily and seek His approval for our future assignments through seeking Divine intervention, without prayer we are powerless. Anyone who goes into battle without weapons is bound to lose and suffer losses. Lord Jesus designated the Father’s house as “a house of prayer for all nations” quoting Isaiah 56:7 and not by any other name (Matthew 21:13). Apostle Paul directs all believers to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17) implying not that we neglect all other work and sit in one place praying only but developing an attitude of continuous thankfulness and humble submission to God. It also releases blessings from God through answered prayers and unblocks obstacles in the way for the Lord says clearly “Ask and you will receive” (Matthew 7:7).
King Hezekiah was given the message from God about his impending immediate death but his prayers were answered and Prophet Isaiah was directed by God to return to him to inform about the extension of his life by another fifteen years. God even went to the extent of giving a sign about the blessing by turning the clock back. If I do not seek such a powerful weapon for defeating my enemies that place obstacles in mu path to success, I can never attain the expected level of success and my success can be assessed in advance seeing my prayer life.
One of the reasons of our being unsuccessful is the denial of this great blessing available to us as believers. We receive innumerable calls every day in the form of “missed calls” where the caller disconnects the call after one or two rings with the expectation to be called back at our cost. The requirement is to seek prayer support for some particular problem that the caller is facing. In the same way we use our “prayer connection” with the Lord by providing incomplete details or reaching out to Him through this “missed call” way expecting Him to answer anyway. We tend to forget that He is God- the El Shaddai- Almighty God and deserves reverence. The command is to ‘ask and it shall be given’ and He is neither going to start the guessing game to understand what we want nor call back to find out the same through the searching of our hearts. As a result we miss out on the best possible resource that can ensure our success.
Optimal feedback – The repeated call in Psalms is “Enter His gates with thanksgiving” (Psalm 100:4) our Lord also emphasized this aspect of life through the healing of the ten lepers in a village in the ‘midst of Samaria and Galilee’. The ten lepers had heard of the Lord and cried out to Him from outside the village, being unclean to live inside. The merciful Lord said to them “Go, show yourselves to the priests” as a confirmation of the healing and certification for becoming eligible to mingle with others after ceremonial cleansing. The all knowing Lord exclaimed on seeing only one returning to thank Him and he was not even a recognized Jew but a Samaritan “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:11-19). The one person that had returned received additional blessing from the Lord and was blessed and made “whole”.
What is the meaning of wholeness of healing? To correctly understand the meaning of proper feedback this aspect needs proper clarification. In verse 14 the Greek word ‘katharidzo’ is used and translated to mean ‘clean, to purify or to cleanse. Accordingly they were directed to go to the priests for verification of this healing/cleansing. The Samaritan man who returned was given a different blessing on his return and the Greek word used is ‘sozo/sodzo’ which is translated as salvation or saved. In his case his faith carried additional benefits of a healing that went beyond the physical healing and related to becoming a complete human being “whole” which includes restoration of the lost- lost limbs made whole; relationship with the Master re-established with spiritual healing; financial healing and much more. Sozo also implies to keep safe and sound, to rescue from destruction which is physical as well as spiritual and this man received what the criminal on the cross was rewarded with.
But the Lord knows what He has done for us and we are thankful to Him for that, then why this additional thanksgiving? The Lord is not interested in anything from us- our offerings, gifts or thanks, but considers our attitude for the command is to love Him with all your heart, mind, soul and strength. He wants to rule our hearts and this is only possible when we acknowledge His as such as the Lord of Lords, not merely through words but by attitude and depth of the heart. The leper accepted that and came back and in a similar manner He desires our commitment to Him through recognizing His blessings in our life by giving of thanks- which is a feedback to Him. The more we develop this habit the higher are the blessings coming our way and this is the key to become more and more successful in everything we undertake to do.
Letting go – We have made preparation, prayed and worked hard for the results but many a times the expected does not happen and we fail. The Scriptures advise us to “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3). King Jehoshaphat was confronted with a great problem of attack by the armies of three nations around him and he had no option but to surrender to the Lord through fasting and prayer and the assurance from God was clear “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld” (2 Chronicles 20:20). God created a situation that the three armies fought with each other and were completely destroyed leaving great wealth for Jehoshaphat’s army and it took them three days to collect the same. Apostle Paul stresses this that “for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28).
The key is to let your requests be made known to God through prayers and supplications (Philippians 4:6) and this is not possible through a “missed call” to God. He desires nothing else but fellowship with us and this means spending time with Him in prayer. Making request known to God also means providing as much detail as we can, for there is no point in praying for a partner in marriage and not clarifying the desired qualities. God does know but He still wants us to use our free will to choose. Once we have done all that we could it is time to leave the results to Him. Our Lord did make a prayer request to “remove this cup from Me” but surrendered His will to the Father’s will. We do not know what is best for us but He definitely knows and gives accordingly.
Where do I stand? – I violate most of the above at one time or the other and then keep on worrying about the outcomes of the efforts. I do not always fall back on His hand of blessing and support to overcome all obstacles and many a times i even start a project without seeking His will for the same. Yes, I succeed most times but i fail also many a times, not because I do not complete a task successfully but because I do not use fully the power that He has made available to us. But one thing I do is to always seek His Divine help in overcoming these and many other weaknesses and when He is ready to forgive my sins, He is definitely ready to help me overcome these weaknesses also to see me succeed. I do repeatedly thank Him for everything that is happening in my life for I know that “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights” (Habakkuk 3:19). I succeed most times but even when I fail I know that He knows what is good for me.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy” (Martin Luther King Jr). Being successful is surrendering to His will in all circumstances and that alone defines the results of our efforts and the mark made by us on the lives of others.
Being successful is to be a willing tool for His work- nothing more!!