By Brian Sharpe
Have you ever had an “a-ha” moment while at a class or at a conference? I get them, more often than I think I should. I’d like to think it is because I am teachable and not because I need things spelled out for me by someone who gets it more than I do. Martin and I went to Minneapolis to the national office of the Evangelical Free Church (EFCA) a few weeks ago. It was a great time for he and I to meet with other pastors who are trying to lead their churches on a disciple-making journey. It is nice to know that we are involved with other churches that are trying to figure out how to lead this.
It is crazy to think that this journey is a 2,000-year journey and we are still trying to figure it out. You would think by now that we would know better how to make disciples more effectively and efficiently. I guess, in a perfect world, it would be. The reason we are still trying to figure this out is because it is a bunch of fallen human beings leading other fallen human beings on a journey toward the infinite God. The thing that gets in the way is not just how sinful we are, but also the lack of tenacity we have to take this journey with others.
This journey is not an easy one. It is one that is full of twists and turns. The journey is full of unexpected ups and downs. I think one of the main “ups” is success in life. Success is what we search for in life, but I am not sure we understand what success is. Success in our culture means that we make a living wage. We have a nice house. We have kids who will obey. Success is when we are comfortable and potentially happy. I am not sure this is the success that God talks about in the Bible.
Success in the Bible is fully trusting in God for contentment and joy. It is resting in God for your identity. Too often, we find our identity in what we have or what people think of us instead of on what our heavenly Father has said about us. We lose sight of this because of our success or what we feel is success.
For me, how I define success is that I have been faithful to God on this journey toward Him. Success would be that I can point others to Jesus and everyone that I am around would be marked by God through the presence He has in my life. That, to me, is success, and ultimately what I want to pass on to those I invest my life in. Nothing else matters.
Whether in abundance or in want, I want to find my contentment and strength in Christ. I believe that what is what Paul is talking about in Philippians 4. From one disciple to another on the same journey toward our Father in Heaven, let’s focus on God’s definition of success — to find our contentment and identity in Him, and not in what the world defines as success.