What does it mean to be a success? It’s a goal that many of us pursue with passion. What does the Bible have to say about success? As usual we’re joined by Running the Race’s Malcolm Gill lecturer at Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC).
What does the Bible have to say about success?
That’s a great question, Sam. The Bible reframes the whole concept of success in a very different way than we think about it normally. I don’t know about you, Sam, but when you were a young boy, did you know what you wanted to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a postman for a little bit.
I think most boys growing up and turning to men, at some stage you want to be a P.E. teacher or maybe an astronaut or maybe a doctor. And from a very young age, we tend to define ourselves and our success in life by what we do. So even as young people, it’s built into you that you need to do well at school, so then you can do well in a career, and you can be a success. But the Bible doesn’t talk about success in that realm.
Jesus, when he teaches his disciples and followers, he tells a story of a man who owns a bunch of property. And he leases some of it out, and he gives stewards or these people jobs to do. And he gets to the end, and he comes back and sees what they’ve done. And he gets to the end, and when he’s giving out the rewards, some people haven’t done anything with what he’s given them, and he’s quite upset. But then there are other times where he will say to his servant who’s done well, and I would say, succeeded, he says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” He doesn’t say, “Well done, good and wealthy servant.” He doesn’t say, “Well done, good and well-known servant.” But he frames success with this term “faithful.” “Well done, good and faithful servant.”
It revolves around this idea of staying true to what God has called you to do
So I think that’s the element of success that the Bible presents. It revolves around this idea of staying true to what God has called you to do, rather than finding your success in how many investment properties you have or how well-known you are in the Twitter-sphere.
Well, how do we counter the fact that the world is all on about success and in making it big, or even just doing well in a career? That’s quite different to what the Bible seems to say. As a Christian living in the world where this is what’s taught to us each and every day, how do we keep going through that?
You know, I think it comes back to motivation, Sam. There’s nothing wrong with being an excellent schoolteacher or pursuing a career in medicine or actuarial work, whatever keeps your boat afloat. Nothing wrong with all of that, but it’s the motivation. Why am I doing this? And the Bible tells us that we are to do all things for the glory of God. And so, you can be, in the eyes of the world even, a successful doctor or a schoolteacher or actuary, but it comes down to motivation. If you’re doing it for the master, that is a real success because that is being faithful to what He’s designed and equipped you to do. But it’s when we start taking credit and thinking our success is about us and it’s about making ourselves well-off and comfortable, and it’s living for ourselves. That’s when we misunderstand what success is.
Each Sunday, FRESH presenter Sam Robinson chats with Malcolm Gill, lecturer at Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC), about different aspects of living the Christian life—or ‘running the race’. Hear them on air Sundays at 6.20am and 9.20am, or on FRESH just after 9pm each Saturday.