But, here is what I have learned. I can’t measure success this way anymore. And here is another nugget I have learned. I shouldn’t have measured my success that way back then either. I am now a missionary in South Africa working with an organization that is obsessed with positively impacting the lives of those struggling with poverty, disease, drugs and despair. In the role that God has opened up for me I am working with the financial partners and generous supporters of Living Hope who enable this ministry to thrive. This has me doing a lot of the same things I was doing in my client relations career back home. When I felt God calling me to give up my career to answer His call to go, I never thought it was so He could put me right back in a similar role on the other side of the world. I really didn’t. Maybe I should have recognized early on that all this experience had been to prepare me for this, but I would have been less surprised if He had dropped me into a knitting and crocheting ministry. (I would not have been surprised if He had chosen a cross stitch ministry though because I am actually one heck of a cross stitcher.)
Unfortunately though, with a familiar role comes a desire to measure by a familiar standard. I want to set arbitrary goals, measure them, succeed and then have some sort of recognition for that. But this is such a dubious award to want to win. It is like winning the award for “Most Attractive” in your cell block at the Tennessee State Pen. Not the prize I want to chase. I could spend the next several years working incredibly hard in this role only to fail miserably by what are the world’s standards, yet be a huge success in the measurement that really matters.
I had a friend who reminded me of Romans 12:2 which states:
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
And then continuing into verse 3:
“For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgement, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”
When I dumb that down for myself it is saying; quit evaluating yourself by the worldly standard of success because it can cause you to put too much value in what you look like in the eyes of others. Doing this is missing the point because the only accurate evaluation is knowing your self-worth in your identity in Christ. This goes beyond just changing behavior. I have to be “transformed by the renewing of my mind.” I can start to try and avoid worldly customs, but if I still carry pride, selfishness, stubbornness and arrogance with me than I haven’t done enough.
Romans 8:5 tells us:
“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires.”
I’m shooting to keep my mind on the Spirit and I’m going to need a lot of help and a lot of prayer. And please pray that I don’t go to prison because there is no doubt I would be the prettiest guy on my block. Dang, there is that arrogance again.