Today, we celebrate the Sunday of Steward – a story about a wise man who was highly successful in using the resources at his disposal and manipulating people around him for his benefit and success. The story invites us to reflect and examine the spiritual perspective and teaching of success and what being successful means to us.
In the Greek legend of King Midas and the Golden Touch, one of the Olympian gods – Dionysus, pleased by King Midas, wants to reward him. So he asked the King to name one wish and promised to grant him his wish. Strangely, the King asked for gold, more precisely for an ability to turn anything he touches into gold. One would assume that a king would have more than enough fame and fortune, yet that was exactly what the king desired and asked for. So as strange as his request was, Dionysus granted him his wish. The king was thrilled, thinking with such a fantastic ability he would be the richest and most successful king ever. But his joy did not last long. Soon he realized that he could not even eat, drink, touch, hold and hug his family without turning everyone and everything into gold. He went to Dionysus and begged for mercy and reversal of his gift. But it was too late and his desire for success and fortune became his condemnation and curse.
There is a dangerous and delusional fascination with success in our society. For many, it is a blind and naive assumption that if and when we reach a certain point in our life, career, accumulate a certain amount of wealth, obtain a certain social status and recognition, we will be successful and, therefore, happy. The rich and famous are consistently portrayed as the ultimate symbols of what our lives should have looked like if only we were successful enough like them. From a very young age, our children are pushed to achieve and be competitive, transforming their appearance and perspective so they can be cool enough, acceptable, likable, and ultimately successful.
The pressure to climb the slippery slopes of the ‘mount success’ and reach its peak exposes us to two very distinct outcomes, both equally dangerous and dark. 1. If we actually make it to the very top, we might experience profound disappointment and sadness because we are not going to find anything there that will transform our lives in a meaningful way. 2. If we fail, we will probably doubt and question our self-worth and self-image. The modern depiction of success is a mere illusion and a lie because no amount of success alone can ever produce joy and happiness. On the contrary, self-centered success will always lead to disappointment, heartbreak, and misery, as we saw in King Midas’s story.
It is important to note that the word “success” never appears in the Bible. Success can never serve as a method to measure one’s self-worth. In fact, our Lord warns us that “many who are first will be last, and the last first” (Mark 10:31). Despite what you have achieved in your life or how successful the world deems you to be, you are a precious child of God, so important to him that He descended from the Heavens to give his life for you.
True success is desire, passion and work in the name and glory of God with the intention to empower and elevate others along with us. True success draws us near to God and people’s struggles around us. True success transfigures our lives, transforms our work and career, whatever it might be, into a faithful ministry, and brings meaning and joy into our lives.