The real meaning of success
” Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” (1 Peter 4:10 NRSV)
Most believers would disagree with the idea that success should be measured by the accumulation of material goods and the glitter accompanying them. However, many believers struggle with the idea that success is measured by how well we do compared to how well others perform. That type of criterion is a recipe for frustration and the feeling of failure! No matter how hard one may try to do a certain task, someone more skilled will probably do it better. Truly, we need to measure our success in accordance with different criteria.
Our first step is to accept the fact each of us is a unique individual bestowed by God with certain talents. While it is true some people seem to have more gifts than others each of us have unique competencies. These proficiencies were given to us not to measure our own success compared with others but rather to be used to forward His Kingdom.
While the world tends to hold some gifts in higher esteem than others, unfortunately, some churches historically have also done so. The Apostle Paul encountered this problem with his church in Corinth where some members considered themselves superior because they displayed an unusual ability, speaking in tongues. Therefore, those who did not possessing these talents were considered spiritually inferior regardless of other assets. In an attempt to discount this supposed superiority Paul related an analogy of the church as being similar to the human body; each having a definite role to play and no one body part being more important then another. (I Corinthians 12:1-27) Paul’s basic message was that no ability was superior to another and each individual competency was important for building and sustaining the church.
If we consider the many talents required to successfully operate and maintain a church, while some seem to have more prestige or are more visible, each is equally important. Think of a church without the numerous workers who help to make it function as a whole: the custodian, the treasurer, the church secretary, the church’s governing body, the teachers, greeters, ushers, kitchen help and others who deal with certain problems and issues as volunteers. No one person, no matter how gifted would have the necessary time and skills to maintain a functional church as only the pooling of the special abilities of individual members result in the successful operation of the church.
True success is not what you have done in comparison with that done by others, but how faithfully you have used the talents God has given you in cooperation with others. The Bible clearly states that each of us has been given gifts “… for the common good” (I Corinthians 12:7 NAS). Only when you are using your special competencies to bless others will you experience true satisfaction and the feeling of success. We need to remember that God has given us special abilities –not solely for our individual benefit – but to use in assisting the operation of His church and to foster the growth of His Kingdom. By using our talents as He intended, others are blessed and our own lives are enriched. When this occurs, we then will experience the true meaning of success.