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What matters most in your life? Are you seeking wealth, power and prestige? Are you seeking peace of mind, security and comfort? Before you can attain true success, you have to know what it is!
Do you want true success? Do you want genuine happiness? Do you want others to recognize you as someone who contributed deeply to their well-being?
Untold millions of people in our modern society are striving for "success." They read books, listen to tapes, attend seminars and do all manner of things in order to be successful.
But what is "success?"
It is vital to realize that you cannot attain true success unless you fully understand what it is! Many people equate success with having or making a lot of money. Others feel that if they could just become a famous star of film, television, music or sports—or reach any kind of "celebrity" status—that would make them successful. But would it, really?
When it came to making money, J. Paul Getty was the most "successful" man of his generation. He was worth billions of dollars at a time when a dollar was worth at least two or three times what it is today. Yet he had a failed marriage, was often lonely and frustrated, and has been widely reported to have said: "I would give up all the money I have ever made if I could just have one happy marriage!"
Surely most of us are aware that countless television, film and sports celebrities end up very frustrated later in life. The stories of their involvement in heavy drinking, drug addictions and marital discord—and their all-around "emptiness"—are legendary. Younger "stars" quickly come along to replace them, and without any sense of an overall goal in life, they wither on the vine. They certainly do not feel "successful" as their celebrity status recedes, their income goes down and people regard them as "has-beens."
The most important key to genuine success is learning to set the right goals—and learning to doggedly pursue those goals. I say "goals" because it is necessary to set and attain a number of interim goals in preparation for attaining the ultimate goal. Many become confused as to what true success is all about, so they decide that "making money" is one of their major goals. They do not realize that while having generous financial resources may add slightly to the degree of happiness one has already attained, it is not the real source or foundation of happiness or of success. Most truly successful people come to realize that, though millions of others never do.
Some of the important areas of success involve one's family, one's career and one's health. Recognized for several years now as the "world's greatest golfer," Tiger Woods believes his success comes from trust in family, believing in goals, maintaining an unflinching focus and serving in the community. This outstanding young man says: "The many ideals and lessons I've learned from my mother and father define who I am and make me proud of who I am. Their unwavering trust and confidence in me keep me going each day. No matter how tough we think we are, we can't do it alone." His father, Earl, has said that as the two embrace after a win, Tiger always says, "we did it"—never "I did it."
An outstanding family can certainly contribute immensely to one's sense of self-worth. It can help give a person a feeling of stability and purpose and add immeasurably to one's happiness and sense of fulfillment. As we become older, if we not only have a loving mate, but are surrounded by loving children, grandchildren, and other responsive individuals in an extended family, the deep sense of pride, satisfaction, and sense of fulfillment this brings is worth more than all the money in the world!
That is why our Creator said: "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him" (Genesis 2:18). In a loving family, if children and grandchildren come along (eight grandchildren and "counting," for me!), the feelings of warmth, security and happiness that come with this cannot adequately be measured. As the psalmist wrote: "Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth. Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them; they shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate" (Psalm 127:3–5). And in the very next Psalm, we read: "Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord" (Psalm 128:3–4).
The American writer/philosopher Elbert Hubbard advised: "Get your happiness out of your work." Those who have pursued a career path that truly "fits" them will all agree that this is a major area in which to build success and happiness—or, on the contrary, to experience frustration and emptiness if the wrong type of career is chosen.
Our Creator stated: "Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" (Genesis 1:26). Mankind was made in the image of the great God. We were made, to a limited extent, to be "like" our Creator—to think, to plan, to rule and to exercise a creative imagination in many different ways. If you direct your path into a career where your capacities can be fully and fruitfully exercised, then your job or career can indeed bring a feeling of success and fulfillment. People who train and discipline themselves to make the "best" cabinets, automobiles or houses can rightly take a great deal of satisfaction from this. A dedicated teacher, physician or similar professional garners a tremendous sense of fulfillment by knowing that he or she has greatly contributed to improving the lives of hundreds or even thousands of people, and helping them reach their human potential more fully.
Even so, achieving success only in one's business or career will leave most people feeling empty. Billionaire J. Paul Getty describes his own emptiness in this regard in his fascinating book, How To Be Rich. After describing how he made his first million dollars by age 24, Getty writes about how he "retired" and plunged "full tilt into the Southern California-L.A.-Hollywood world of fun and frolic." But he then relates: "It took me a while to wake up to the fact that I was only wasting time and that I was bored. By the end of 1918, I was thoroughly fed up. Early in 1919, I was back in the oil business—not a little abashed by the 'I told you so' smile I got from my father when I informed him that, having retired at 24, I was coming out of retirement at 26!"
Nearly every wealthy person with whom I have talked, or about whom I have read, freely acknowledges that "things" do not make one happy. With the blessing of good health and a happy family, financial success can bring reasonable contentment. However, genuine success goes far beyond financial or business achievements. As a number of authors have stated, in effect, "beyond success lies significance."
At certain points in life, most people begin to ask themselves: "Is this all there is?"
You need to face that question squarely!
For if you are willing to carefully and fully consider the real answer to the question, "Why was I born?" you will be on the road to discovering how to have a truly significant life—a life and a purpose that goes deeper and deeper into fulfilling the ultimate purpose for which you were placed on this earth.
Most of you Tomorrow's World subscribers are no doubt willing to consider that great purpose, or you would not be subscribing to or reading this magazine. So let us now consider how this ultimate purpose relates to attaining "success" in life. Please be willing to think things through carefully, to get at the genuine answers to life's most important questions—not "quickie answers" that consider only part of the story and give only part of the real answer.
Most of you know that Jesus Christ said: "Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4). The only written "word of God," at that time, was what most of us call the Old Testament. Notice how Jesus again validated the Old Testament: "Jesus answered them, '"Is it not written in your law, "I said, 'You are gods'''? If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, 'You are blaspheming,' because I said, 'I am the Son of God'?" (John 10:34–36). In this passage, Jesus Christ clearly describes the Old Testament as "Scripture," and then states that "the Scripture cannot be broken."
I mention this because it is vital that we each prove for ourselves the existence of the very real God—the Creator of heaven and earth. It is also vital that we prove that the Bible is the inspired revelation from God, telling mankind why we are here, and revealing the true purpose for our lives. We need to understand that without this divine revelation—which can be proved—we simply wander around in the wilderness of human confusion. For, apart from such a real God, each man's opinion is just as valid as every other man's opinion! Where would that leave us? It would leave us in emptiness and confusion, and in a state of failure to find any transcendent purpose for life.
We each need to consider, carefully, what God said: "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth" (Genesis 1:26). As beings made in the "image" of God Himself, created to have "dominion" over the earth, where are we ultimately headed? How can we reach that goal? And will that goal give our lives wonderful meaning?
The answer to this last question is a resounding "Yes"! Once you have proved to yourself the real meaning of life—and once you start fulfilling the great purpose of life—every phase and facet of your life takes on significance. Every day is filled with meaning. The morning paper and the evening news are filled with significant meaning as you see, day by day, how God's purpose for the nations is slowly but surely unfolding, and how each individual's life is blessed to the degree that he or she is responding to the awesome purpose for human existence.
God inspired ancient King David to write: "What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet" (Psalm 8:4–6).
In the New Testament, God inspired the author of Hebrews to repeat David's words. Then, after the final phrase—"You have put all in subjection under his feet"—the Apostle Paul adds: "'For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him" (Hebrews 2:8). Biblical scholars acknowledge that the phrase, "has put all in subjection under him [mankind]," may well indicate man's eventual rule over the entire universe! As Paul adds, God "left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him"!
For millennia, mankind has studied the moon and stars and philosophized about how we might reach them someday. With our modern technological capacity, we are now able to "probe" some of the nearest planets in our own solar system. But the vast universe out there—containing stars and planets billions of light-years away—would require men and women to live, reproduce and die in some kind of space vehicle for many generations before reaching even the closest edge of other galaxies!
So will we conquer space?
Yes! We will eventually "conquer" space, but in the way our Creator has ordained. For Paul continued, in this inspiring section of the book of Hebrews: "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings" (vv. 9–10).
God will eventually use mankind—created in the "image" of God to become full sons of God as Christ is bringing "many sons to glory" (v. 10)—to assist Christ in ruling the entire earth and later, in all probability, the entire universe, as indicated in Hebrews 2:8!
Talk about a great purpose! Talk about a transcendent goal!
Although most professing Christians have never heard about it, this is the ultimate Good News! This is why you and I were born! We were not created to "float off" to heaven with nothing to do. Rather, God created us to learn to use our time, our talents and our creative capacities to serve our God—our Father, for true Christians are told to address God as "Father" (Matthew 6:9). Remember, God's word tells us that Jesus is to be "the firstborn among many brethren" (Romans 8:29). We are to be actual "younger brothers"—not "pseudo-brothers" on some lower level of existence, like a cow or a goat is beneath a human being!
Again and again, God tells us in His inspired word that those whom God truly calls to understanding in this current age will be given the opportunity to be kings and priests in Christ's soon-coming Kingdom, and assist Him in ruling over cities and nations—in bringing genuine peace and prosperity and joy to this confused world. Paul wrote: "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world will be judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Do you not know that we shall judge angels? How much more, things that pertain to this life?" (1 Corinthians 6:2–3). Paul tells us, in plain language, that we have an eventual "goal" of ruling over the nations of this earth under Jesus Christ—if we will believe the plain words of the New Testament, and if we will fully give our lives to God through the true Jesus Christ!
In Revelation 2:26, Christ is speaking in the first person: "And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations." Yes, the true saints—the "overcomers" who understand and surrender themselves to God's great purpose—will be given power over the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, China, Russia and all the nations of this world under Jesus Christ in His coming world government! This is the wonderful "Good News" of the Kingdom, or Government, of God, which the Bible proclaims from one end to the other!
No! That part of government will not be up in heaven! For God's inspired Word pictures the true saints singing to Christ: "For You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth" (Revelation 5:9–10). After describing how the soon-coming False Prophet "shall speak pompous words against the Most High, shall persecute the saints of the Most High" (Daniel 7:25), Daniel shows the final deliverance and rulership given to the saints of God: "Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him" (v. 27).
This is not just some allegory or vague dream, as some modern theologians like to imagine! Jesus Himself told the Apostles: "And I bestow upon you a kingdom, just as My Father bestowed one upon Me, that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Luke 22:29–30).
Yes! If we will give our lives wholeheartedly to God, through the true Jesus Christ of the Bible, we can attain a degree of success and awesome significance far beyond what most people even begin to imagine!
How, then, can we attain a certain degree of success and satisfaction in this life, as we prepare for our ultimate goal? We can do our best in building a solid, God-fearing family. We can develop talent in our chosen career, using the "fruits" of our success to help and serve others. We can follow the principles of good health and try to "glorify God" in our bodies (1 Corinthians 6:20). God certainly desires that we become reasonably happy and successful in these areas.
Moreover, truly growing and productive Christians—the "overcomers"—will learn to live a life of personal development and accomplishment to prepare themselves for the coming job of assisting Christ, and straightening out the problems of this world. In doing so—in knowing our ultimate goal—true Christians' minds should be comforted by the deep "peace of God, which surpasses all understanding" (Philippians 4:7). For Jesus said: "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
But far above and beyond all of this—if we will "catch the vision" of why God created us in the first place, and will "seek first" above all else the Kingdom of God and His righteousness—God will (through His Holy Spirit working with us) fashion and mold us through a life of spiritual growth and overcoming, and make us His full sons in His Spirit-filled family, which will soon rule this entire world!
That is true success! Can you imagine the sense of exhilaration and the thrill of helping, feeding, encouraging, teaching and serving the billions of confused, diseased and starving people at Jesus' return? Can you appreciate the opportunity to bring profound peace and joy into billions of lives by teaching them and leading them in God's way? All this will indeed bring the final success and fulfillment for which we have been created. There is no greater calling—there is no greater "success"—than to fulfill that great purpose for which you and I were born!