I will attempt to do something far beyond me, and that is to define SUCCESS. What really is success? What really would we see in our lives and then say confidently that we are successful? What would we see in others and say they are successful? A house in the village? Plots of land at Lagos and Abuja? A company of one’s own? A highly paying job? A powerful, wonderful car? Fame and worldwide recognition? What exactly is success?
When Nelson Mandela died, people from far and wide, presidents and prime ministers came for his burial. I was highly intrigued and impressed by the retinue of people that attended his burial. Silently in my heart, I started wishing that I will make such impact in the world that when I die, US president, UK prime minister, and of course CNN and BBC will attend my burial ceremony. While the thought was going on in my heart, the Holy Spirit began to rebuke me. How many great men attended the burial ceremony of Apostle Paul? When Robert Hyslop of Bassa died, how many prime ministers attended his burial. When Pa G. Elton or Mary Slessor were being buried, how many awards did they acquire, and how many news media covered their burial ceremony?
It got me thinking. What is life really all about? What will I do with my life that when I look back from my death bed or scene, I will say with such air of fulfillment like Paul, “I have finished the race”? And as I see how my world reasons, and even in the church, I watch as Mammon reigns. He sits enthroned as lord on our altars, while we keep on singing that only Jesus is Lord. What is Mammon? It is not just the ‘god of money’, but the standards of the world. By this time, you should be married. By this time, you should have a house in the village. By this time, you should….. you should….. you should….
So, men are under constant pressure. They must accomplish this or that, otherwise they will be accounted as failures. But what exactly is success? God created you for a purpose, there is an eternal reason in the heart of Yahweh for which He caused you to be born. To fulfill that purpose, that is SUCCESS. Whether you made much money or not, whether you had a house of your own or not,, whether you were recognized or not, to fulfill God’s purpose and plan for your life, THAT IS SUCCESS.
Let me give you a few examples:
1. LEO TOLSTOY: He spent his life writing and telling stories. The world didn’t know him for much else. He raised a lot of disciples, had a lot of followership, just telling stories. He chose to live a hard life, though he could have run after wealth. Today his stories like, ‘What men live by’, ‘How much land does a man need’, etc. continues to change his world many years after his death. Two great men- Martin Luther King Jr, and Mahatma Gandhi trace their greatest influence to this story teller from Russia.
2. PAUL THE APOSTLE: How much money did he have? How much houses did he build on the earth? How many certificates did he have? Was he successful? You can bet he was. He died a fulfilled man. Why? Because he could say with assurance that the reason why Jesus gave him life, he fulfilled it.
3. R. G. LETOURNEAU: Well-known as the ‘mover of men and mountains’, R. G. was a pioneer and inventor of many earth-shaking equipment used in the world today. He was a believer in Christ Jesus, and wanted to become a missionary, but the spirit of Jesus constrained him to be a business man. As a business man/manufacturer, he achieved great things, pioneered inventions and even had a university (Letourneau University) in his name, yet, 90% of his income went to missions. For him, his success was not just his business wealth, but the knowledge that he is serving the Lord where God wants him to be.
Listen, I believe it is the will of God that we have enough to meet our basic needs and to give to others, but it is not given to all men to be stewards of great wealth. To command and control great wealth requires a lot of time and energy which is the exclusive right of majorly businessmen. Thus, it is not easy for a man of God who spends much of his time decoding revelations, a teacher who spends most of his time getting up to date on latest discoveries and teaching younger people, and even a doctor highly committed to human health and safety, to command great wealth. He may be well-paid, be rich by proxy (i.e. surrounded by rich men), etc., but his calling demands a commitment that denies him of the opportunity of great wealth.
So, we must be careful how we judge life. Let us be sure that we are where God wants us to be per time, and that we are doing our best there. That consciousness as we look back at our lives many years from hence, that we walked with God, that we did all He wanted us to do, that is true success. Whether it made much money for us or not is not the issue. Whether we built our own house, rode a powerful car, was known all over the world is not the issue. But on the last day, will God look at you and say “Well done good and faithful servant”