Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
In Part 1, I talked about what is we can decide is important in life. And I said that the Bible says, Don’t become so well adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. That means the world’s value system is different to what God says. I think we really need to clarify what’s important.
Make a list of your values. Make a list of what you consider to be the most important things in life. Write them down so that they’re not vague, fuzzy—so that you’ve actually thought them out. If everything is important, nothing is.
It’s interesting that most of the values that you have you didn’t choose. You didn’t choose them. You just assimilated them without thinking because you grew up in this culture. You picked them up from people all around you as you grew. Some of them you got were good and some of them weren’t so good. Some of them are self-defeating and some of them are actually hurting your life. But you didn’t automatically sit down and choose the value. You just automatically accepted it. You’ve never really thought them through.
A Crisis Makes Us Consider Our Values
We rarely think about our values until we have a crisis, when we hit the wall. Then, all of a sudden, we get interested in What’s the purpose of life? When you’re cruising through the world, going through life and everything’s going great, you don’t stop and ask the tough questions. You don’t stop and say things like, What are my values? and Where are they leading me? and What’s going to be the end result of these values? You don’t ask these kinds of things.
What happens is, you wait until a crisis occurs—there may be:
- a bankruptcy
- a relationship breakup
- a job loss
- a major illness or crisis
- death of a loved one
- failure to achieve an expected promotion.
And, all of a sudden, you start asking questions like, What is really the purpose of life? and Are my values really leading me in the right direction? We don’t think about it until the pain occurs—there’s a wake-up call and we start thinking, Maybe my values are off a little bit. Maybe I’m too much of a workaholic. Maybe I’ve been investing all my time and energy in a person or a relationship or a job or a goal that I’ve wasted way too much time on. That gets our attention.
Define What Success Means for You
Get alone with a pen and paper and make a list of the 10 most important values that you want to build your life on. You need to come up with a personal definition of success. What does success look like for you—what are the purposes that God has for your life?
Why is this important? Because if you don’t come up with a personal definition of success, other people will define it for you. And that’s a big mistake. Don’t ever let anybody else define success for you.
Success is a word we use all the time in our society. It’s probably a very overused word. But nobody ever stops to define it. Let me give you a definition of success: Success is the feeling we get when we live out our values. That’s what success really is. Success is not a destination. It’s not a goal, an achievement. It’s a journey, a progression. Success is not an achievement. Why? Because if your success is based on an achievement, somebody is going to outdo you eventually.
Every record is broken eventually. Once your achievement is topped, what happens to your success? It goes out the window. If you build your life on something like Success will be when I achieve…, somebody else is going to top it. Real success is when you decide what values are really important to you in life and bring your life in harmony with them.
You Can Then Be Successful at Any Stage of Life
When you have a personal definition of success based on your own values, nobody can ever take that feeling of success away from you, and you can be successful at any stage of life. You don’t have to say, Once I get to 40 or 50 or 60 or retirement, then I’ll be successful. You can be successful at any stage of life as long as your values are being lived out in your life and you feel the satisfaction of that. That’s what success really is.
So really the starting point is: you have to decide what’s important to you. Decide what matters most. The key is perspective. And if you really want to know what matters most in life you have to take the long look. Look at your life 10 years on, 20 years on, 30 years on:
- What’s going to last?
- What’s going to last 10 years from now, 20 years from now, for eternity?
- How much of what I’m doing right now is going to matter in 20 years?
The things that don’t matter, maybe I shouldn’t spend so much time on them. Maybe I shouldn’t spend any time on them.
When you take that question—What’s going to last?—notice what the Bible says in Hebrews 11:25 that pleasure isn’t going to last: “The pleasures of sin last for a short time.” Sin is fun. Nobody would do it if it weren’t. The Bible even says that sin is fun—there is pleasure in sin—but it also says it lasts for a short time. You have your kicks but you have your kickbacks.
Possessions are not going to last either. 1 Timothy 6:7 says, ”We brought nothing into the world and we can take nothing out.”