This excerpt from XEALOTS by Dave Gibbons explores the true measure of success. It seems appropriate for this President's Day as we reflect on leadership and greatness. -AF
Who do you live to please?
He was the wisest man who ever lived, [and] Jesus worked with his hands as a common laborer for much of his adult life. When he started his official teaching ministry, the guys he chose to roll with were a crew of misfits. Few would have made it through the first round of job applications at most companies today. They did nothing to enhance his status or reputation.
Perhaps the greatest scandal of all, though, was that this man — God incarnate — eventually was brutally beaten, whipped, spat upon, and crucified on a Roman cross. By common standards of success, by the judgment of worldly wisdom, it made no sense. Why would the King of All Kings agree to be executed alongside common criminals? Why would the very definition of success agree to endure such shame? Why would he humbly refuse to retaliate? Why did he choose love over the flexing of military muscle. The way of Jesus was the Via Dolorosa, the Way of Suffering. It was a literal dying to self.
This is not a path any of us would willingly choose. What parent would consider this a successful life for their child? No, this graph is our worst nightmare: starting out in the upper right and heading sharply down and to the left, a graph depicting failure, disappointment, and pain.
The success of his life was measured by his obedience more than … his passion.
But here is what really matters: regardless of how the world might rate Jesus' life, his Father was pleased. That is the true measure of success. It doesn't matter what the opinion polls said, who Jesus chose to align himself with, or how many disciples he produced in his lifetime. The success of his life was measured by his obedience more than even by his passion.
I once heard the story of a young piano player. He had just finished playing a concert. He walked off the stage to a standing ovation. Backstage, his manager urged him to go back out for an encore. The young man refused.
"Come on, they all love you!" the manager said. "No, not everyone," said the young man. "Did you see that old man in the back? He's not standing." "What's the big deal? He's one guy out of an entire crowd." "No," the pianist replied. "That old man is my teacher."
"And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?" [Mark 8:36] For all the energy we expend seeking success, what matters most is knowing how our lives will be judged. Because in the end, success has nothing to do with pleasing the masses. It's about obeying the One.
maestro, noun; "(1) A distinguished musician… (2) A great or distinguished figure in any sphere." -Google
Question: The true measure of success is pleasing ________.
(B) the masses
(C) the Maestro
Learn more about Dave Gibbons's XEALOTS: Defying the Gravity of Normality
Follow Dave Gibbons on Twitter: @davegibbons
- Adam Forrest, Zondervan
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