Husband, Father, Friend, Pastor/Coach

Month: November 2021

The Lure and Lust of Success

Someone asked me if I like fishing. My response was, and is, “no, I like catching.” Catching the fish is the goal, and so achieving it sooner than later is my desire! I don’t care for shopping; but I do enjoy buying stuff!

Early in my marriage, I discovered the difference between shopping and buying! Faith helped me discover that even though milk, eggs, and bread are the only things on the list…one needs to visit the jewelry counter.

Fishing vs. catching. Shopping vs. buying.

One activity is a journey, and the other is a destination. We call the destination success.

We are consumed with success. There is no discipline, job, or lifestyle that is exempt from our goal to be successful. We even give awards to people for being humble and self-denying. Often, we can’t even give without having some sort of nic-nac for giving, or a gimmick.

I’m going to sound contradictory here. I believe in having goals. I believe in personal achievement. Here’s the balance; if we can’t find joy in the journey, then the destination can be disappointing.

Faith and I are newer residents of California. We’ve heard all about the Golden Gate Bridge. Its iconic. Its on calendars, postcards, websites, and one of those things one thinks about when California comes to mind. To all of my California friends, Faith and I were disappointed when we saw it. The build up was incredible. The destination was so-so.

Jesus did not teach us to be successful; especially in the eyes of the world. At the end of it all, the reward is not according to our success, but to our faithfulness.

“Well done, good and faithful servant.” The words we long to hear!

Author Tim Hansel wrote years ago that “well done” brings up the imagery of a cooked steak! When we have enjoyed the journey, we leave nothing on the table. When we enjoy the journey, we are “well done” – all of our life poured out.

Dogs enjoy the journey. Do you have one? “Wanna go for a ride?” Doggy runs to the car, hops in, and sticks his tongue out the window all the way. Who cares where we’re headed? I’m enjoying the journey!

The lure of success and the lust for it can obscure the journey. If we are minded to being faithful, we won’t be in a hurry. We can be more tortoise than hare.

Bob Dylan was asked about being successful one time. Dylan said that suc-cess was made of two syllables; neither of which is good! Michael W. Smith, a multi Dove award winner, said that “it gets old.”

Solomon was king during a time that silver was as common as sand. He had a world wide following. He had more wives and concubines than one can make sense of. Yet he wrote these words, “vanity…all is vanity.”

Think again of the words of our savior. Matthew 25 is the context. The parable is about the Kingdom, and three servants mentioned. Jesus says that the owner divided talents, (silver, in this case), “according to their abilities,” (verse 15).

Not everyone received the same amount.

No method of use was mentioned.

The ones with the entrusted abilities began with nothing.

The owner didn’t make them owners of the silver. He made them stewards of the silver.

One of our challenges in the lure and lust of success is that we possess the false notion that everyone should have an equal share. Most of the time, we mean “money” when we think this way. Let’s think this through for a moment; “everyone gets an equal share.” This would mean that everyone on the planet would be the same height, weight, gender, skin color, mental capacity, and physical ability.

In other words, robots.

What a boring world that would be!

It is a dangerous, faulty, and disappointing notion for sameness to be our life’s ambition. If we’re honest, superiority, not equality is our goal.

The parable calls the servants to account. We shared this scripture at our church recently; 2 Corinthians 2:10. Here it is in the Amplified Bible: “for we (believers will be called to account and) must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be repaid for what has been done in the body, whether good or bad, (that is, each will be held responsible for his actions, purposes, goals, motives – the use or misuse of this time, opportunities and abilities).

Simple put, my goal in life is not be successful, but to be faithful. Faithful is not a consolation prize word; it is to be full of faith. Every motive, every investment, every action should be moved by faith. That is the measure of my stewardship.

Think of the size of your family. Did you grow up in a large family, medium family, or small family? Is a family with twelve children better than a family with one… or none? Of course not. Families of every kind are called to be faithful in what they do in life.

The lure and lust for success isn’t an adequate measure in the first place. James says that we must check our motives. “If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works wit the humility that comes from wisdom…jealousy and selfishness are not God’s kind of wisdom.” James 3:13-15 NLT

When the owner in the parable calls the servants to account, he calls the servant with one “wicked and lazy,” not because he only had one…but because he wasn’t full of faith in the use of what he was given. He didn’t enjoy the journey, as a matter of truth, he didn’t even begin the journey.

What can I do today to begin to enjoy the journey?

Are You a 10%er?

Before you get nervous, or scroll away, this is not about tithing. That’s for another day. Are you a ten percenter? We often talk about the one percenters; the small sliver of people that hold the majority of the world’s wealth. There a basically two prevailing ideas about the one percent; 1. they should give more to the 99% 2. they can do what they want to with their money.

I always find it interesting that we think we know what is best…for someone else! It reminds me of when I was being corrected as a child, and I would inform on my brothers. It wasn’t justice I was standing up for; I wanted to deflect my spanking on them! I am reminded of school clothes shopping with my children. Our budget was $20 shoes, their budget was $100 shoes. Without any knowledge of the situation, one could conclude several things:

  • Faith and I were hoarding money from our kids, and they were unjustly being treated.
  • My kids had no idea how much money we had, nor understood the value of money, or a budget
  • My kids were hiding money from other sources, but were holding out for more. They were unionizing.
  • My wife and I had budgeted certain money for school clothes, had communicated it to our kids ahead of time, and had informed them that the allowance was $20; anything beyond that would be their responsibility. HINT: this one is correct.

In all of the above situations, my children were grateful. They learned to understand that food, clothing, a place to live, and the main ingredient of love are not entitlements; they are a blessing.

We were going through a particularly hard time once, and even grocery shopping was “touch and go.” Someone had blessed us with much needed groceries. Our cupboards were full, as well as our refrigerator. Our youngest came home from school, opened the refrigerator, saw the food, and yelled, “we’re not poor anymore!”

That was a moment of thanksgiving. In her mind, food in the fridge equals no longer in poverty. She was right!

Poverty is often a mindset than a lack of money. Proverbs 14:23 reads, “Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty!” (NLT) We have so many worried about the one percenters that we’ve forgotten to be a ten percenter.

Jesus encounters a group of ten lepers one day. They stand at a distance, (as they were required to do) and cried out to Jesus for mercy. It is obvious that they knew of Jesus’ healing power, otherwise they would have not called upon Him. Jesus tells them to go show themselves to the priests, which meant that He was declaring them “cleansed.”

The text of Luke 17:11-17 reads this way; “…and as they went, they were cleansed of their leprosy.” Even before they got to the priest’s examination (the medical authority of their faith) the healing took place.

What would be your natural inclination at this point? There are others in the Bible who respond to a miraculous provision with shouting, dancing, praising God. Nine out of these ten went on their way.

One turn around and came back. The ten percenter.

He came back to Jesus, shouting, praising God, and fell to the ground (worshiping) with thanksgiving. The English translation falls short here, and we can hardly catch the emotion of the moment. He was “thanking him and thanking him and thanking him.” He’s showing gratitude. The word in this scripture is the same word that we use for communion, “eucharist.”

When is the last time you had a shouting communion service? Perhaps they should all be shouting communion services. Thank you for healing me, thank you for saving me, thank you for giving breath in my body, thank you for taking me into your family. Thank you, thank you, thank you Jesus!

The other nine were only in it for the healing. The ten percenter got healing and wholeness. Jesus said, “go your way, your faith has made you whole.”

He was already healed of the sickness of the body. Jesus now granted him wholeness of soul.

This is November 2021. There’s a ton of stuff to not be grateful or thankful for. A friend of mine is posting one grateful thought every day on social media. Today, my flesh and the world and the devil will attempt to get me to be distracted.

Distractions are anything that takes one’s mind off of being thankful to God.

If I’m complaining about my kids, I’m not being thankful to God. If I’m moaning and groaning about the economy or politics or the general poor condition of things in the world, I’m not being thankful to God. If I’m fretting over the lack of food in the fridge, I’m not being thankful to God.

Paul said, “with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God,” (Philippians 4:6) This is a unique statement; giving thanks in advance of the need! With thanksgiving – I’m giving you thanks God right now… letting my requests become known.

Do you know that Jesus already knew that the lepers had leprosy? Do you know that he already knows our needs before we ask him? (Matthew 6:8).

Thanking him in advance seems to be opposite, but we are being thankful to God because we know that he hears us, and longs to answer us. “With thanksgiving” praying is partnership prayer.

Thank you, Lord that my children are serving You and loving you.

Thank you, Lord that my husband is getting out of prison.

Thank you, Lord for making a way to buy this house.

Thank you, Lord for healing my body.

You may not be a one percenter, but you can be a ten percenter. There’s wholeness there.

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