Have you ever noticed the flurry of books and self-help guides to transform you into ‘the man’ that will rise to the top in this world? There are loads. At the start of the year this stuff is all the more visible. How to earn more, how to excel in business, how to be a success in life….
I am not knocking them, I am sure some of these books offer really helpful advice about positive thinking and goals, assertiveness, targets and ambition, great stuff if you have the time and patience for this sort of thing. They also cover stuff, which I think is perhaps, more helpful, like how we handle failure, drive forward with energy and focus, all good things.
However, in preparation to write this blog for the start of the new year I did a quick Internet search on how to be a success, and I even spelt ‘success’ wrong, not a good start.
You might desire to be a successful sportsman, or excel in some kind of hobby. (I am trying to get my dart game strong enough to compete in the World Darts Championships, but that’s another article.) You might be so driven at work that you strive to be a success in the office, on the building site, in the boardroom, in the classroom.
Perhaps for you it is about being the best dad you can be and aspiring to be a success at home and for your family to see you as a winner. You might even have some very godly spiritual ambitions, to succeed in evangelising 1,000,000 people and writing a library’s worth of devotional books and sermons to wow any congregation.
Again, this is all inspiring stuff so what am I saying? This may seem a shock but I don’t believe you are being called primarily to be a success in any of the above ways as a Christian man.
For me there is a really subtle voice inside, and it focuses itself around who I am and how I find my identity and value. When I set my value and ‘success’ on being a success in the office for example, when it doesn’t happen and my ideas or vision fails who am I? When I set my value on being the next big Darts player to come out of Essex and I just can’t hit that treble twenty who am I? When I strive to be the next great evangelist but can’t seem to communicate the gospel in ways that people hear, who am I? When I shout at my kids and completely lose it because they just can’t stop arguing or look up from their tablets, my measure of success has been floored. Even as a husband when I don’t always operate with a selfless, unconditional love I have somehow been defeated again.
I think that we can also perpetuate this ‘how we measure success’ stuff in our churches too. I have been to so many churches where the messages to men is ‘let’s be better dads, let’s be better husbands and men in the community.’ I get that and agree, but hold on, I need to be honest that it feels like the bar at which point I can measure if I am successful or not in these endeavours, keeps moving up. How will I cross this line or tick off some of these goals and aspirations when the only messaging I hear is ‘be better.’
Here is my take on it.
Inspiring growth, change, targets and helping men measure success is essential, and I think we can do that by setting obtainable goals and celebrating the journey.
The journey, the target and focus for me is to pursue Christ Jesus with all I have and let that pursuit shape my life, choices, actions, reactions, the lot. As I seek to measure my life as a success or not, of course I will go to the normal labels, father, husband, son, boss etc, but there is more.
Obedience, faith, integrity, honesty, commitment, action, generosity, kindness, patience, gentleness….Christ-like living! As we set the measure to this stuff and celebrate the journey men are on in this respect, the funny thing is, the result will be that we will excel in our families, homes, communities, places of employment and on.
So, at the start of this year let me ask you some questions.
How are you going to measure success this year?
What do you define as the points of success in your life?
How can you be part of encouraging and growing the men around you on their journey to pursue heavens agenda when it comes to being successful?
Happy New Year!
Image Credit: Samuel Zeller