OFF KILTER: What is the Measure of Your Success?

The new year is a time to drink wine and make merry for many, but it is also the time of year when we as humans pause to take a sobering look at where we’ve been in the past year and think about our goals for the new year. We hold a measuring stick to last year’s achievements, be it in finances, relationships, career, or health, and make resolutions to do better this year.

Last time, I talked about the big picture of why we are here—to be God’s light for the world. I want to springboard from that into determining our direction in life and how we measure our successes and failures. Steve Taylor had a song called “What is the Measure of Your Success?” on his 1987 album I Predict 1990 that inspired this devotional. In the video, a business mogul has all the trappings of earthly success, but in the end discovers that he can’t take it with him. Even as Christians, we fall into the trap of believing that success is found in more money, furthering your career, or a more expensive house. God’s measure of success is nothing like man’s. The apostle Paul says:

Philippians 4:12 (TNIV) “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.”

Philippians 4:12 (The Message: Remix) “I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty.”

So we are to look to God for our security, because he alone can provide it, not us, and we are to be content in where he takes us—through days of plenty, as well as days of want. The key to being a servant is surrender. You are not the master of your own destiny, but part of God’s greater plan. So where does that leave us? If we are not meant to scale the corporate ladder, how do we determine where to work, or what to do in this life? Solomon, with all his God-given wisdom knew:

Ecclesiastes 9:10 (TNIV) “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”

Ecclesiastes 9:10 (The Message: Remix) “Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily! This is your last and only chance at it, for there’s neither work to do nor thoughts to think, in the company of the dead, where you’re most certainly headed.”


So the answer is really quite simple. Often times people will search and search to find their calling or their place in life, when our greatest desire should simply be to be used by God. Pray, and seek to do God’s will, then simply step out and do whatever He gives you to do. Tourniquet has a song called “Pushing Broom” on their 1994 album Vanishing Lessons where a young man whose job is simply pushing a broom yearns for some greater purpose in life. What he misses is that we are to be content in the role God gives us for today. Our role in life may be spectacular or mundane, but it is being in God’s will for our lives that makes us successful. Blessings on you!

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