It would seem that success in present-day life centers on financial stability, a good marriage and other external factors.
The amount of wealth a person is able to obtain often characterizes success and is evidenced by all the finer things of life, that is, an expensive car, quality home and productive employment.
You might say that the more of self someone maintained, the more successful he is thought to be.
Jesus presented just the opposite. Jesus made statements to reveal that the greatest in Christian character is the person who has less of self and more of service to others.
Luke 22:24-30: A dispute also arose among them as to which of them was considered to be greatest. Jesus said to them, The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.
For who is greater, the one who is at the table or the one who serves? Is it not the one who is at the table? But I am among you as one who serves. You are those who have stood by me in my trials. And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.’
Clearly, today there are many examples of everyday people who are servants of others and think of others first. This success is much different than success in the world. This can be thought of as another dimension of success.
Wealthy people can also have this quality. Well-known celebrities such as Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey and many others have made a financial success from their careers and yet have this other side of them that centers on helping others.
This is what Jesus meant by being a servant to others; that is, no matter how high or low your status in life, the most important quality in life is serving and helping others. It has nothing to do with financial security, but rather a deeper desire, even with low financial means, to help others.
The rewards from this personal quality are intrinsic, not extrinsic. A person who developed this Christian quality is successful in this dimension of success. It does not matter how high your status of financial wealth; a person can experience success by having less of self. It is by developing his Christian characteristic that true happiness and peace is found in life.
It is God’s purpose to bring about the best in life by our following his teachings. The best in life can be experienced by having inner peace and happiness. Giving and serving others, putting others first and thereby becoming a servant brings about lasting fulfillment. Wealth and health can be lost; this inner fulfillment can never be lost.
Jesus also gave guidelines on serving others. Matthew 22:34-40: Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’
Jesus replied: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the law and the prophets hang on these two commandments.
Success as a Christian is less of self and more to others. This has been the way for Christian success for thousands of years and still holds true for today. Listen to Jesus’ words in Luke 24:48: From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.
Your success is not dependent on what you have, rather what you do with what you have.