Defining Success

"The time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day."  2 Timothy 4:6-8

I believe it is vitally important that you decide, as early in life as possible, how you will define success in your life.  As Craig Groeschel has so correctly spoken, everyone winds up somewhere but few get there on purpose.  Your definition of success will act as a blueprint for how you live and road map for the direction of your very existence.

The apostle Paul looked at his life from a very unique perspective.  Success was not even in his vocabulary.  He evidently aspired to something much more eternal.  He lived for FAITHFULNESS.  And as the end of his life loomed large in the distance, with the knowledge that he would lose his life in Rome for the sake of Christ's gospel, he walked deliberately towards his physical death with a confidence that he had succeeded in his mission. 

Remember these things about Paul:

1.  When he died, he had no idea that he had been inspired by the Holy Spirit to write half of the New Testament.  He had simply loved people so much that he pastored them, corrected them, rebuked them, and encouraged them through letters when he could not be there in person.  Those letters now serve as the theological and practical bedrock upon which God is building His church.

2.  As he traveled from city to city at the risk of his own life, he had no long-term goal to plant a certain number of churches or hit a mark of baptisms, conversions, or church attendance.  He was just doing what Jesus had commissioned him to do, and the results are now, to those of us who look back from our lofty perch, simply astonishing.

3.  He didn't know that his words of caution, correction, teaching, and encouragement written to small gatherings of less than 100 people meeting in homes to worship Jesus would spawn a worldwide movement that would quite literally change the course of human history.  He just knew that he had a job to do and limited number of years to do it.

Thus, Paul was faithful.  Plain old hard work.  Simple tenacity.  Focused and refined, he ignored some distractions, dealt harshly with others, suffered the physical pain of beatings, the emotional pain of critics and broken friendships, and died not knowing what exactly would happen to the church.  He left this world without a clue as to what his legacy would be.  As a matter of fact, I can't really imagine Paul ever even considering how he would be remembered.  He was too busy making Jesus famous.

Would you consider Paul a success?  By any definition of the word, he could stand as THE MODEL of a successful businessman, marketer, networker, leader, and entrepreneur.  He understood branding, influence, leveraging, momentum, delegation, and focus (way before any of these terms appeared in leadership books or business seminars).  Yet he never set out to accomplish any of these.

He was driven by a higher calling.  He was compelled to tell a story, and he did.  Until he died.  And he saw the finish line before he arrived.  It looked beautiful to him because He could see Jesus standing there, waiting on him.

I say to not quit.  Never give up.  Stay faithful.  To your marriage.  Your job.  Your classes.  Your church.  Your calling.  By God's grace, keep telling the story of the good news of Jesus.  You will be much more than successful.  You will be faithful, and you will be rewarded.  Jesus will be your reward.

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