The word “Success,” what it means and how you can have it in life, often times depend on the perspective one has in life. Many people have different kinds of understandings when it comes to the definition of success. There is no one who doesn’t want to be successful, however, many either doesn’t know how or they live by their own definition of success. Let’s have a look at the dictionary and Biblical definitions of the word success.
Every word in human terms will have its meaning depending on popularity and social norm since truth is perceived as relative in this world. Here is the dictionary meaning of the word success: the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, the attainment of popularity or profit, a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity, the outcome of an undertaking. This definition ignores the moral side of the equation of success, i.e., character is not in the equation. It doesn’t say anything about one’s motive or the person himself.
The Biblical meaning of success gets even deeper and defines it as living in the center of God’s will. You can have the dictionary meaning of success without the presence and the will of God (Exodus 33:1-5), but the biblical meaning of success can never be attained without His presence and Will (Exodus 33:7-23). "Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." (Joshua 1:8)
While the world is focusing on acquiring, achieving, securing or being better, God’s success story is not primarily about earthly possessions.
King Solomon in all his glory and wisdom wrote the book of Ecclesiastics towards the end of his life. In the second chapter, he tells us the whole story about what he called success in the early years of his adult life, claiming that he got it all! But then, he came to a point where he regretted and found it to be so crucial to redefine success all over again. This decision, that he arrived at, didn’t come because he lost in the game of life. Rather it was because he reached at the pinnacle of life, where few have made it, and learned his hard lesson that it is empty and purposeless. “I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.” (Ecclesiastics 2:10-11) His conclusion was that what he thought was success was actually vanity! He said it is meaningless and like a chasing after the wind. Finally, He discovered that the true definition of success is not found through social consent.
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind.” (Ecclesiastics 12:13) Notice that life is not about having everything under the Sun but having the right attitude towards God and wholeheartedly responding to His laws. That is what true success is all about. If you have to listen to anyone’s advice, let it be from the one who got it all - king Solomon. History confirmed his wisdom and riches. “So king Solomon exceeded all the kings of the earth for riches and for wisdom. And all the earth sought to Solomon, to hear his wisdom, which God had put in his heart.” (1 Kings 10:23-24)
So how do we measure success?
Stewardship is the measure of success in the Kingdom of God. Look closely at the following scriptures, Luke 12:35-40 and Matthew 25:21-23. “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10) What matters most in God’s Kingdom is not where you have arrived but how you have arrived there. In other words, how you live your life is as much important as your achievements. “Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues without right.” (Proverbs 16:8) In Proverbs 25:5, it says, “Take away the wicked from before the king, and his throne shall be established in righteousness.” What makes a successful king is how establishes his kingdom.
Let us, therefore, take heed what the word of God teaches us and become successful in it's true meaning. Remember 1 Corinthians 2:14 - "But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
God bless you!
Pastor Mesfin Mamo