In everything he did he had great success, because the Lord was with him.
-- 1 Samuel 18:14
Climbing the career ladder, beating tight deadlines and closing the deal are all marks of success in Western society. Millions of Americans actually skip or cut short their well-earned vacations because they're afraid to fall behind at work. They think they just can't find the time in their busy calendars.
But is that really what success is all about? Jesus had only three years to complete his mission of saving the world from the penalty of sin. He cured disease, raised the dead and even calmed raging storms with just a word. With such a tight schedule, it seems like Jesus would have little or no time to socialize. But the Bible tells us that he made a special effort to enjoy quality time with those who mattered most to him. And more than 2,000 years later, it's safe to say that his ministry was a successful one.
Luke's Gospel records an episode when Jesus visited the home of his friends Martha and Mary. While Martha busily prepared the food and straightened the house for the gathering, her sister Mary decided to take time out and listen to Jesus' message. Martha was very upset about Mary's attitude and complained to Jesus about the apparent injustice. But instead of scolding Mary, Jesus commended her for choosing the most important thing: quality time with him.
What is true success for Christ-followers like you and me? We're called to be Jesus' hands and feet on earth while we wait for his return. Until then, God wants us to help prepare his Kingdom by making the most of our talents, gifts...and time. And it's by adopting a mindset and lifestyle of service that we'll become more like Christ. In short, we're always to follow the Leader:
"In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served," Jesus explains. "He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people."
To the world, success comes when we land that high-paying job, buy that big house and drive that expensive sports car. But our Creator sees things quite differently. Indeed, the real key of success is when we follow Jesus' example of service by using our gifts, talents and abilities to bless others. As Christ-followers, let's turn our faith into action by accepting Jesus' invitation to help brighten a dark world that's so much in need of light, truth and love.