A question I often ask college students is this: What is success in life? This question often opens up a discussion that provides different answers from financial stability to a whole happy family life and everything in between. But what is success in life through the eyes of God, and how do we attain it? Can we attain it? These are important questions we all must consider when determining our direction, not only here in this life, but perhaps more importantly for our eternal life after our death.
What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?
Often times, especially in young people, the decision of what direction to take after high school is challenging and confusing. College or not college? Stay at home or move out? If I go to college, what on earth will I major in? The questions go on and on. At this point in a young person’s life, answering that question of “What is Success in Life” doesn’t even come in play. At this point, it is simply, “What am I going to do with my life”.
As young children, our parents and others often ask, playfully, “What do you want to be when you grow up”? While in truth there is a playful side to that question in that parents and others love to hear the often funny responses kids come up with in answering that question, there is also a very serious side. Unfortunately, the world we live in focuses the term “success” around the size of our bank accounts, our popularity or the title we hold along beside our names. That question, “What do you want to be when you grow up”, is really asking all too often, “how big will your bank account be when you grow up”.
Matthew chapter 6 verses 19-20 gives us good general direction for our lives: “19 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal”.
Follow God – Not Your Own Plans
In the Bible, James chapter 4 verses 13-15 states, “Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” We must be careful in trusting our own guidance and desires for our life versus trusting God’s direction and desires for our lives.
God has provided everyone with a unique talent. Your work, what we do here on earth, is meant to be used in such a manner that shows the greatness of God. All too often we believe we have achieved certain levels of “success” by our own doing; that diploma, that degree, a promotion, a nice home, or even small successes day to day. In reality, no level of accomplishment can be attained without God’s working in our lives. Everyone has something they do better on some level than other things. That “thing” you seem to be naturally good at is a gift; a gift from God. Use it, but use it not only to provide for yourself and your family, but also to glorify God.
Don’t Hide It – USE IT!!
In the Bible, Matthew 25 verses 14-30 gives us a unique insight into “talents” through the teaching of Jesus himself. Matthew 25:14-30 is a parable where the master of three servants went off on a journey. Before leaving, he divided his wealth amongst the three servants according to their abilities for them to take care of until his return. One received 5 bags of gold (talents), the other 2 bags of gold (talents), and the last received one bag of gold (talent). The first two invested and put their bags of gold to work doubling the masters’ wealth in what they were entrusted with while the third who had received one bag simply dug a hole and buried it, thus did not earn anything. Upon the masters’ return, he rewarded the first two servants and condemned the third.
What is the point here? There are actually several points we can take from this parable. Our “success” comes from the effort we put into our work, however never forget WHO we work for. In the parable, it is clear that the servants work for the master. The servants who went to work with their entrusted talents were generously rewarded by the master whereas the servant simply laid his talent to rest was condemned. Never trust your own desires, trust in God and God alone and never take for granted the talents he has provided you with.
The parable in Matthew 25:14-30 isn’t simply about hard work. On a deeper level, this parable gives us direction on how we should use our God given talents towards what God’s ultimate purpose for us is – to further His word and bring everyone closer to Him.
Success is our obedience to God through our God given talents. It is recognizing those talents we have, came from God and God alone, not by anything we could ever do on our own, and then using those talents to glorify He who through His grace gave them to us.
What is YOUR talent?
Finding your talent comes natural for some, harder for others. Sometimes, that special “thing” you do well is really right there in front of you. Maybe it’s something others have complimented you on that you just sort of ignore in passing. Maybe it’s something you know you do well but keep bottled up inside. Ignoring something or keeping something bottled up inside is the same as the servant who buried his talent………isn’t it?
Trust in God. If you use your talent given to you by Him, how could you possibly go wrong? Step outside the box, and start using that talent today.