How to be rich and successful without losing your soul
I spent a large chunk of my life studying for exams. So why do we do exams? Because they are a gateway to success. If we can pass our exams, we get a qualification. If we get a qualification, we get a job. If we get a job, we’re successful.
We can define success as getting what we’re looking for. Maybe it’s wealth. Or respect. Or a trophy family. But if we can find it, then we’re finally successful.
According to our modern Western narrative, we have to earn our success. It’s not given to us. We have to gain it by being smarter, faster and better than those around us.
But this will lead ultimately to fear and insecurity. Because there are so many factors that are out of our control. For example, what if I get sick on the day of my exam? What if a GFC comes and wipes out my profits? What if one of my children is born with a learning disability?
And we’ll never know if we’ve done enough. How much do I have to study? How much money do I have to make? How much tutoring will my children need?
We will always fear falling behind. Because there will always be someone else who is smarter, faster and better than us.
In Jesus’ story about a rich fool (Luke 12:13-21), he teaches us how to re-define “success”. First, success is a gift from God, rather than something we gain. The hint is in verse 16 where the ground produced a good harvest for the rich man.
And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest.” (verse 16)
For us it’s the same. God controls the factors that determine whether we will be “successful.”
So we need to re-define “success.” If I get what I’m working for, I need to be humble and thank God for my success. But if I don’t get what I work for, then I need to trust that God has a better plan for me.
Second, true success is to be “rich toward God” (v. 21).
“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.” (verse 21)
In the end, the most important thing is that we’re in a rich and flourishing relationship with God.
This also is a gift from God, rather than something we gain. Jesus dies for us and now lives for us. This new life is something we receive from God. I can never gain it by my own effort.
A man once told me his sad story. He said his dad never spent time with him. Instead, his dad would give him lots of money. But the man said, “My dad never got it. I didn’t want his money, I wanted him.”
It’s the same with us. God doesn’t want our riches. In the end, he wants us to be rich to him.
Sam Chan also blogs at his EspressoTheology.com