Written by Peter Blanch
Have you ever thought about what makes a truly successful life? All human beings want a successful life – no one wants to waste their life. No one wants to come to the end of their life and look back and conclude that they blew it. Now while none of us wants an unsuccessful life, many are unsure about what success looks like. And the danger of being unsure is that we easily adopt what others think counts as a successful life.
For some people the successful life is seen in achieving highly throughout education and then excelling in a career. Being a professor, a lawyer, a judge or doctor, being someone who holds public office or a Dean of a University or a principal of a school. Often for such people success is not just in achieving these things from themselves but in having children and grandchildren who follow in the same professional manner.
For others, success is defined not so much by a high-standing career, but in the amount of money and possessions gained. The greater the wealth, the more successful life is deemed to have been. For others it is pleasure, where more pleasure equals a more successful life.
The problem with all of these is that none of them are worthy of being used as a guide to measure a successful life. They are not worthy – because death makes a mockery of every single one of them. Both the person with a high standing professional career and the proverbial street sweeper die and after a few generations neither are remembered. The person who enjoys an enormous amount of pleasure and the person who does not – in the end both die. If you dig up theirgraves and look at the bones of the rich person and the poor person, you would not be able to tell which was which.
Our lives are so brief that success cannot be defined by something as short-lived as pleasure or wealth or career.
Instead, a successful life is defined by what will last into eternity. Jesus himself made this clear when he said:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.
When Jesus speaks of “treasure in heaven” he is talking about those things that contribute to the kingdom of heaven and that will last for all eternity. There is treasure that will last forever, things of real eternal value. Things by which a successful life will be measured.
Treasures like accepting the Kingship of Jesus and the salvation he offers freely that grants us life into eternity. The treasure of sharing the gospel with another person and seeing their eternity also changed as they join us in the Kingdom of God! The treasure of a faithful and godly life that bears much fruit for the Kingdom of God. The treasure of encouraging someone in their Christian life and seeing them grow in maturity. These treasures are granted to us in the grace and generosity of Jesus, who has conquered death for all eternity. Only through Jesus have we been given access to eternal life which graciously frees us to achieve true success.
In pursuing these treasures, a person without much money can lead a wonderfully successful life. The godly proverbial street sweeper can be far more successful than the man or woman who receives worldly acclamations for achievements in their professional career.
As we consider true success, we’re affected not only personally, but also in our parenting of the next generation. Parental success is defined not in the achievements of your children but, as God tells us in Malachi, he desires a different measure. The reason God brings a man and woman together in marriage is this:
Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. Malachi 2:15
Our aim in parenting should not be ambitious for above average intelligence, sporting skills or popularity in our children, but shepherding our children towards trust in Jesus and a godly life.
If we are seeking true success in life, then we need to pursue those things that will last beyond the grave and into eternity.