What does it mean to be “successful”?
Is it to make a lot of money?
To set goals and surpass even your own limitations?
Is it gaining the feeling of freedom and security?
Success may mean a lot of different things for different people. I have my own definition of success, and I’m sure your own view will not match mine. While I was learning God’s word and his plans for us in High School Youth Group, I always got the implicit feeling that Christians should not seek financial success. I always thought it would breed greed and sin, and would destroy one’s character.
My thinking has certainly changed (along with a bunch of different ideas from my teenage days) after my time in college and during my few months after graduation. Before I would think that attepmting to gain financial freedom was a sin, and was not something Jesus would condone; now I see it as a blessing from God.
I may have been in the minority in High School and was fabricating these ideas in my head, but I think it is important for all of us to have some goals that we strive to attain. It keeps us from becoming lazy and complacent about our own lives, and keeps our mind and spirit sharp in the long run.
Now, remember it is obviously important to not allow our goals and striving for success to overtake our lives and become idols. It is far too easy to get caught up in getting the next promotion, getting that raise, or losing those twenty pounds. Solomon warns us in Ecclesiastes that all of our strife and works are “vanity and striving after the win”. We will all die after all, and we will not take our possessions and material worth into eternity.
I’ve been thinking about all this while reading Ecclesiastes while continuing to determine how I can glorify God in everything I do. God calls us to work and labor for our food and shelter as it says in Proverbs. In our labor we will glorify God if we labor with a focused heart and spirit. God gave each of us gifts and abilities that we use daily in our careers and service. God wants us to work hard and to reap the benefits of our labor.
Ecc 2:4-11 paints a picture of king Solomon doing all sorts of things to increase his pleasure and materials on this planet. After doing so, he simply came to the conclusion that it was all vain. It would all be completely meaningless in the spectrum of eternity. While it is true that even with all of the promotions and raises that in the end they too will be meaningless, we are still called to glorify God in our works and labors.
If we obey and glorify God in our works, He will bless us. We cannot allow ourselves to become obsessed with how our boss looks on us, for who is man to judge? Instead God will provide for us, and he will provide our blessings through our works. This applies to EVERYTHING we labor for, whether its wages or grades in our college classes.
I need to change my thinking myself when it comes to my future career. While I do have goals and aspirations, I need to first and foremost obey God in his commands, and glorify him through my present and future labors. Only then will be bless me and grant me the desires of my heart. It’s written in the Word and is a promise of God, and he is not one to break his promises.
Continue to work and labor hard, but your primary focus must be for glory to God. Going through Ecclesiastes has been such a blessing as I try to figure out what I want to do as a career. God will take care of all that. I need to trust and obey Him, and he will take care of the rest. Trying to do it alone and for my own glory is nothing more than “vanity and striving after the wind, where there is no profit under the sun”.
Work hard. God will not bless you for trying to skirt by and He won’t bless you just because. Glorify him through hard work, and focusing on his Kingdom. Not for your own means.