Devotion and Prayer for Week of November 6, 2011

Meditation for the Week November 6, 2011


Are You Successful?


Recently I received an e-mail from a person I had worked with a few years ago. She brought me up to date on her activities and then closed by asking me a question. She asked me if I am successful. That was an interesting question. And it immediately triggered the thought in my mind of what does she mean by successful, how do I define this term and then how do I respond to her question.


I first looked in the dictionary for the definition of success. It gave two. The preferred definition in The American Heritage Dictionary 3rd Edition is; “The achievement of something attempted.” The secondary definition is “the gaining of fame and prosperity.” As I reread her e-mail, I attempted to determine which definition she would have me use. She had detailed the promotions she had received, the deals and projects that she had closed and finally the raises and bonuses the company had given her. So I surmised that her scale of measurement would be the second of the two definitions – fame and prosperity. This seems to me to be the definition that most people would use when they ask the question, were you successful.


Using this definition I am not famous. There is no media attention, no book deals or advances, no television interviews or radio interviews, all symbols of success in the world. I have not achieved prosperity in the sense of six figure salaries, bonuses, health club memberships, the corporate American Express Cards, all things that she noted as measures of her success.  By the world’s standards I did not meet fully the test of being successful.


I wondered how did Jesus measure success? A good example would be found in Matthew 25:14-30 the parable of the talents. The parable where the one servant is given five talents and earns five more, another is given two and earns two more and the third one is given one talent, buries it and just returns what was given him. The Master, upon learning this rewards the first servant and compliments him, well done good and faithful servant.


Pastor Rudolph Norden in his examination of this parable says that this is Jesus’ definition of success. Success comes from faithfully using one’s talents and improving them so that better service can be rendered. He goes on to say that Jesus doesn’t consider success to mean gaining wealth and getting promotions. I think Pastor Norden is right.


After thinking about it, I could fairly easily answer the e-mail that yes, I was successful in the first sense of the word, I achieved what I set out to be. In the second sense I am satisfied with my status in life and seek no more success in that sense. However, I find the answer to the question, am I successful in the Biblical sense a more challenging question. Have I used all the talents God has given me? Have I sought to improve them and to render better service?  Will God say to me, well done, good and faithful servant, you have earned more talents? It is my prayer that I am faithful and using the talents such that they will be increased.


How about You? It is also my prayer that, you too, will be faithful in the use of the talents that God has given you.

Weekly Prayer

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, I ask you to strengthen me to be the person you want me to be.  One who uses the talents and abilities you have given me, to show your love to all with whom I come in contact. May all my walk and conversation be such as gives evidence of the Gospel in my heart and life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen