Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Disciplined Out Of Success

Contentment, the Hard Way

In my last post, I blogged on the process of learning contentment the hard way through a messy divorce and my life challenges over the last couple of years. As a result of this massive mid-life crisis, I discovered a new way to experience satisfaction for where I am, today.

You can't dwell on what happened in the past. You can't worry about what's coming up in your next three life stages. You can't get consumed with becoming a success in your calling, your field of expertise, or your business. All you can do is live in this moment and live your life to the best of your ability right now, with God's help, of course.

Success Does Not Equal Happiness

Before my marriage problems and eventual divorce, I had become consumed with becoming successful, whatever that meant for me I'm not exactly sure. I was obsessed with being able to juggle a bunch of different "balls" in my career. These different career focuses ranged from church orchestra director and stewardship pastor, to small business owner and writer. Honestly, I was pretty much all over the map and my first marriage paid the price.
God may allow His servant to succeed when He has disciplined him to a point where he does not need to succeed to be happy. The man who is elated by success and is cast down by failure is still a carnal man. At best his fruit will have a worm in it. - A. W. Tozer
So, taking from the quote above, is what I have gone through over the last two years a result of being disciplined out of success in order for me to learn that success does not equal happiness? Maybe or maybe not. I won't really know until I reach heaven and can ask the Lord why I had to endure all this junk for the last two years.

But, I do know that I have learned a lot of valuable life lessons in the process of living though the difficulties. I now have first hand, real life experience that trying to be a successful church musician, stewardship pastor, small business owner, writer, father, or husband does not equal happiness. They might help you to be happier, but these things can never equal happiness.

Unfortunately, for some dummies like me, almost everything needed to be stripped away before I could really comprehend this. I needed to be disciplined out of success in order for me to understand that I don't need this so-called "success" in order for me to be happy.

What We Really Need

So, if we don't need success in order to be happy, what is it that we do need? I would contend that we simply need more of God. We need to go deeper in our relationship with Him. Our character needs to be shaped more into that of His Son, Jesus Christ.

The allure of success is a challenge for almost all of us. Don't get sucked in, though. Don't learn the hard way like I did that success doesn't equal happiness. Consider what King Solomon, the wisest man ever to live on this earth, said in Ecclesiastes 12:1, 12-14:

Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, “I find no pleasure in them”—
Be warned, my son, of anything in addition to them. Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body. Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.

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