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Apr 11, 2021 475 Steffi Siby,
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True Success

The way to true success in less than 1000 words!

We are called to live a life of hope, peace and joy. Pope St. John Paul II once proclaimed that, “In a true sense, joy is the keynote of the Christian message. My wish is that the Christian message may bring joy to all who open their hearts to it… Faith is our source of joy.

What would be your answer if you asked yourself, “Does my life proclaim a message of joy? Is my faith the source of my joy?

If we are honest, we would likely have to say that life circumstances often get in the way of living joyfully. And circumstances certainly have not been favourable recently – the pandemic has adversely affected each and every one of us.

Staying positive and hopeful can be difficult. Even more than the circumstances around us, there is something else that steals our joy: Ourselves. A prime source of unhappiness comes from our own negative thoughts and self-perceptions.

We are all children of God – precious and loved. But too often we forget this and define ourselves instead by worldly standards. One of those standards is success. We have probably been measuring ourselves with that measuring stick since our youth.   We have been told repeatedly that we need to secure a good career, salary, marriage. And whatever you do, be good at it! That seems to be the resounding message–one that can leave us feeling inadequate.

We have been conditioned to judge by appearances. We commend people on their achievements, not on their efforts. It is the results that count, we are told. So we can easily overlook what truly matters.

The prophet Jeremiah was called by God to warn the people of Israel of impending judgement. But from his own words we know of his lack of success: “Who would listen to me if I spoke to them and warned them? They are stubborn and refuse to listen to your message; they laugh at what you tell me to say” (Jeremiah 6:10 GNT). The people refused to listen to Jeremiah and the leaders of Israel rejected him. The judgement that he prophesied came to pass and Israel suffered.

If we look at this through a worldly lens, all of Jeremiah’s work seems to amount to nothing. However, he showed remarkable faithfulness even in the face of immense opposition. He was obedient to God’s will and that was what made him a success.

Now, let us look at a modern-day example. St. Mother Teresa famously said, “God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.”  Can you imagine a more counter-cultural motto to live by?

I think most people would agree that Mother Teresa led a meaningful and admirable life. What made her life meaningful and admirable? Her words tell us why.  Rather than trying to succeed in what she did, she simply did what God required of her. Her focus was not on herself, it was on God. This is evident in her remarkable kindness, and in the way she saw God especially in the weakest and poorest members of society.

The witness of Jeremiah and Mother Teresa lead us to an important insight: “The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7).

So, let us not get overwhelmed and stressed trying to be successful according to the world’s standards. If we stay close to God and serve him wholeheartedly, he will bless our efforts. Nevertheless, being faithful to God comes with many challenges. It requires endurance and perseverance; but we know that it is a goal worth pursuing.

It can be tempting to compare ourselves to others and to strive for what the world considers success. But that leads to frustration and futility because there will always be those who are better, smarter, and more successful. However, there is a reassuring truth: The way the world sees us is not the way God sees us. God looks at our hearts. And ultimately God’s opinion is the only one that matters.

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Steffi Siby

Steffi Siby has a passion for reading and writing. She lives with her family in Blackpool, England. To read more of her articles visit: spreadyoursmile.home.blog/

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