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Success, Succession and Spirituality

By S. J

Success. The world at large seems to hold onto a particular, extremely narrow definition of the word, where everyone almost unanimously associates it with attaining wealth, prosperity or fame, leaving us with a never-ending rat race of trying to be the best at everything. This leads to a culture of comparison and unhealthy competition, which will eventually begin to take a toll on our mental health and our sense of self-worth.

Others may be ahead or behind you, be it academically, popularity-wise or even in relationships, but you’ll feel this constant pressure to live up to the standards of those who love you, especially your parents. And when you don’t measure up to them, when you try your best and still feel like a failure since you seemed to fail every time you tried anyway, that is going to drastically affect your self-worth. Why? Because we’re conditioned to believe that our worth lies in our achievements, academic or otherwise, so that we’ll be accepted by society, adding to the pressure of feeling like we owe it to those who have sacrificed so much for us.

But what’s important to understand is that our identity and worth lie in Christ, not in our achievements or in how much we live up to our expectations. Once you understand this, it’ll be a great pressure taken off you since you know that God has made you with a unique plan and purpose.

"For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." - Jeremiah 29: 11

We can trust in the assurance that God has given us: that He knows what’s best for us, for we can’t trust in our own wisdom. Something that I’ve always struggled with, to this date, is comparing myself to those around me, to worldly measures of success and positions, and constantly feeling like I never measured up to them. But God’s timing for everyone is different, and the strengths and talents He has given each of us are different too, and that’s the beauty of it.

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ, we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. – Romans 12: 4-8

We have been made in His image, with a specific purpose, and are loved more than we can ever imagine. And as Christians, we are called to use our talents as the Spirit leads us for the furthering of God’s kingdom. However, knowing God’s will for us can be tough at times. But the Bible tells us to be anxious for nothing but to make our requests made known to God in prayer, and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:6-9). Hence, it’s important to constantly be in His Word and in prayer so that we may be able to recognise the voice of the Holy Spirit as He impresses God’s will in our hearts.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6: 31-33

God promises us that if we seek His kingdom first and do His will, all these things will be added unto us. He will provide us with our daily bread. He will provide us with everything we need. Because He is all-powerful, and there is nothing He cannot do. This is how I see the Biblical definition of success; living our lives in faith and trust, using our talents according to His will whilst He fulfils our every need and not having to give in to the never-ending pressure that society puts on us, but being confident as children of God, whilst doing what He has called us to do.

This does not mean that we will be devoid of suffering or that everything will always go smoothly or as planned. Of course, there will still be times when we feel low and feel like a failure. But we can always come back to who we are in Christ. The enemy will always try to fill our thoughts with feelings of inadequacy and doubt, which can stop us from living to our highest potential in God’s eyes. But guess what? Moses had stage fright, and David brought a rock to a swordfight! This means that however unprepared or inadequate we may believe ourselves to be, we can rest assured that God will always provide us with what we need in His perfect timing because He always chooses the best for those who leave the choice to Him.

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