The world defines success, at the most basic level, as an excess of one of three measures. One is successful if one has more status, power, or money as compared to anyone around you. Combining the elements brings extreme success, however any element can ensure you rise to the top. Examples include a priest in a small village, England or India work equally well as examples, a teacher in the town school, and anyone extraordinarily successful in making money.
The paradox shows itself anytime one compares personal values, priorities, and ideals with the attributes found in many people who are successful. The contrast can become a parody in living when one things of a priest versus a businessman. Yet even among the less financial rewarding callings everything is relative. Priests and teachers are rarely the poorest in their neighborhood. In some places they are in the middle to upper tier or wage earners!
Success draws attention and wonder. Others often want what those who are successful appear to have gained. It is as attention, wonder, and pride are the three things they seek. It was true in ages past when “word got out among the Jews that he [Jesus] was back in town. The people came to take a look, not only at Jesus but also at Lazarus, who had been raised from the dead.” (John 12.9) And it is true today. If you have any doubts just watch the entry to a movie premier, state event, or awards program. People see the limelight. People want the attention and implied jealousy. People seek the lifestyle.
But, and there is always a “but”. At what cost? Are the values of priorities truly soul-worthy lost or misplaced? Is there an eternal price to be paid for the worship given by others in the present?
In contrast, I also see humble people giving their lives for others. I find gifts of compassion, hands extended in love, and hearts broken so others may live. I see real success hidden from the public.
I wonder which “me” others will see today.
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