The world is a beautiful place. We have been blessed with living in a bountiful world, filled to the brim with wonders for us to appreciate. It’s a smorgasbord of blessings, ready to nurture and teach us, to show us that God loves us and wants the best for us.
Yes, the world is beautiful.
It can also be a tough place; many people alive today don’t know where they’ll be sleeping tonight or how they’ll procure their next meal. So many of us live in tightly-packed cities, scrambling in “competition mode” to figure out how we can advance our interests. Some do this legally, others not so much.
I’m here to tell you that success is achievable by anyone. You just have to learn to put yourself second. In other words, help others succeed and God will see to it that you also succeed.
It’s as simple as that.
How We’ve Been Misled To View Success
Success is on so many people’s minds today. Turn on a device and you’ll see it on full display. Whether it’s through news or social media, the world is brimming with people who portray themselves as successful. Social media has given everyone a platform, empowered (or disempowered) regular folk to meticulously craft plastic lives to put on display for their friends and family to admire.
But is the “success” we see on a screen true success? Is the beautiful model who gets millions of likes on their posts successful? Or the entrepreneur who just sold his startup for millions? Or the musician who fills stadiums with adoring fans to see him/her perform?
My answer is: what we see is certainly a snapshot of success. After all, it took work for the model to groom themselves to look so attractive. Same goes for the entrepreneur and the musician. They have each been successful in the venture they chose, they have honed their craft to reap material rewards.
But it’s not the full story of success. It’s a snapshot. An instant, frozen in time and spread through the information superhighway that is the internet. It’s a slice of success, but not the full cake.
The full cake of success can never be conveyed through a picture or a video. The closest anyone can get to witnessing someone else’s success is to get to know them personally. Only then can we decide for ourselves if that someone is living a genuinely successful life or not.
We Can Only Experience Others’ Success When We Know Them Personally
This is because human beings are multidimensional beings. We have height, width and depth, as well as an inner world of thoughts, emotions and feelings. We have depth squared. The wholeness of our humanity cannot be conveyed through a screen. It can only be conveyed personally, through genuine, heartfelt interaction.
What we see on the screen has been carefully crafted to convey the slice of success. But it lacks the depth of humanity and always will. We may never know what the individual on the other side of the screen is struggling with.
So the next time you find yourself admiring a celebrity and asking yourself how they became so successful, ask yourself “Is what I’m seeing the whole cake of success? Or just a slice of it?”
You’ll be amazed at how answering that question puts things into perspective.
What Does Success Look Like To You?
All of this constant messaging of success we receive saturates us. It fills our subconscious mind with beliefs while being totally unaware of it. But just because we are unaware of these beliefs it doesn’t mean that we don’t base our actions upon them. We do, and it’s a mostly unconscious process. That’s the power of the subconscious mind.
Have you ever taken the time to reflect on what success looks like to you? When we do this it gives us a window into our unconscious beliefs. One way you can identify what success looks like to you is by writing down the people you admire.
So who is it? Is it a celebrity? Or a famous scientist? An internationally acclaimed artist? A world-record holding hot dog eater?
The more honest you are with yourself about this, the better. The people who’s success you admire reflect the beliefs on success you hold.
For a while I admired the success of Tim Ferris. His book, “The Four Hour Work Week” made me dream of living a life like his – one of carefree success and vast stores of free time to use as I wished.
I also admired a few online influencers who seemed to be living perfect lives of stress-free adventure.
For years I did my best to emulate them, to craft a life according to their instructions so that I could replicate what they had.
I fell for the slice of success, I ate it all up believing I was getting the full cake. But I wasn’t. Like every other follower, I was only getting part of the story while believing it was the whole kitten caboodle.
I was misled and it cost me dearly. AGAIN!
This is an idea I’ve been meditating on a lot recently. Every human being alive worships. It’s an idea I got from David Foster Wallace, an American author. Human beings were made to worship. We can worship money, fame, power, beauty, talent, shopping. The list of things human beings worship is as varied as the human family.
Can you identify what do some of the people in your circle worship? Some people in my circle worship money, professional acclaim, work and food.
Can you identify what you worship?
It’s crucial that we identify what we worship. Because whatever we choose to worship will eat us alive. You will never have enough.
Up until recently I worshiped meditation, physical fitness, writing and knowledge, to name a few things.
I have now identified these things I worshiped as false idols. They led me astray. They promised things to me and delivered in part, but took away in others. They scammed me.
I’ve come to realize that the only entity we can worship who will always steer us true is Jesus Christ. Jesus lived a perfect life, it’s recorded in the Bible. Read about His life and worship Him and watch your life transform. Follow His teachings to be successful in the eyes of God.
Nothing matters more.
Worshiping Jesus doesn’t mean I stopped meditating, exercising, writing and learning. I still do these activities, but I no longer believe they will save me. Jesus already saved me with his sacrifice on the cross.
I do these activities, but I don’t worship them. I worship Jesus. This has brought me great peace. A load has been lifted off my shoulders.
Jesus was all about loving God first and loving your neighbor as yourself.
What Happens When You Humble Yourself Before God
In the gospel of Luke 9:24 it’s written:
“For whoever wishes to save his life shall lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake, he is the one who will save it.”
Following Jesus means taking his words seriously and acting on them. It means realizing we are all imperfect sinners and will be so as long as we’re alive. We can do the best we can while we’re here, but we’ll always have a sin problem.
When we do as Jesus instructs – losing our life for His sake – it means we give up our selves to be his followers. To do as Jesus does. This means we put God before all else. When we do that we give up our own selfish desires and can humbly ask God for guidance and direction in life.
God is real. Science has confirmed this. It’s time to put on our big boy/girl pants and accept that there is an omniscient observer watching everything we do. This makes unbelievers incredibly uncomfortable, naturally. It’s fear-inducing to accept that everything we think, say, feel and do is being watched and recorded by God. And that we will one day be judged by Him.
Don’t sweat it though, Christ already paid the bill for our sin in full. You just need to accept that and you’re saved.
When we humble ourselves and ask for direction from God, the Father of Christ, we plug into an intelligence infinitely vaster and wiser than ours. We open ourselves to doing God’s will rather than our own. God then begins making a way forward for us, so we may serve him.
It’s our choice to accept Jesus Christ and then ask for guidance.
Competition: How We’re Taught To Succeed
If you’re like me you went through the traditional schooling system. That means you were taught that success lay on the far side of competition. School teaches us to relentlessly compete against each other.
The Washington Post published an article in 2015 stating that by the time they’ve graduated from high school the average student in America today had taken 112 standardized tests. This says nothing about the amount of testing done for classes. America tests its students into oblivion.
What does so much testing teach students?
It teaches them that their value is set by how well they measure up to a standard. Each test is a competition, students are given a standard and they are graded according to how well they measure up to it.
Students compete against a standard in every test they take, so by the time we graduate from university most of us are utterly convinced that the best route to success is through competition. We compete for jobs, promotions, houses and romantic partners. It’s exhausting.
It’s also ineffective. According to Christopher Kukk, the author of “The Compassionate Achiever”, the more competitive you think you need to be the less successful you will be.
This is powerful food for thought, especially when we consider Jesus’ instructions on giving up our own life for Him. Some healthy competition is welcome, but I don’t believe it’s God’s will for us to incessantly compete against each other.
God made us to be cooperative. The better an individual cooperates with a group, the better his/her chances of thriving. When that group bases its values on truth, love God above all, success comes.
Just look at the United States of America. It was and is the greatest country in the world for a reason. It was founded under God.
Help Others Succeed To Find Your Success
By genuinely accepting Jesus into your heart you begin to see profound changes in your life. These changes will be real, from the inside out, they will be powered by the Spirit of Christ within you.
One of these changes is that you will begin putting others before yourself, without expecting anything in return. You’ll be doing this genuinely, knowing in your heart that you’re serving God with your choices. How do you think God will then respond to your actions?
He will make a way for you, no matter where you are in life. He will lift you up as you lift others up.
Our biology is inscribed with this truth. This article in Psychology Today states that neuroscience has demonstrated that giving is a powerful pathway to increase joy and improve health.
The neurotransmitters dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin are the drivers of our happiness. It turns out that giving to others allows us to secrete all of these chemicals at once. For example, this study showed that when chimpanzees shared food their urinary oxytocin levels were higher compared to other types of social feeding and even grooming.
Have you ever cooked a meal for others and eaten it together? How did you feel after the meal is done? My guess is pretty good.
Cooking is just one way of putting others first. There is no limit to how we can put others before us.
Know that it has to be freely given. If you give in order to receive you’ll be setting yourself up to feel resentment when people don’t give back to you. That’s not how God works. It’s not always easy to do this; some days it will be harder than others. That’s our challenge.
Final Thoughts: Try Putting Others First And See What Happens!
Putting others first is a pillar Christianity. It comes with following Jesus. In the short time I’ve been a Christian (about a month) I’ve already experienced an avalanche of giving previously unknown to me. And as I’ve received, so am I giving. It’s how the Economy of God works. The Economy of God transcends humanity’s economy. It can be measured in the smiles of people gathered around a table in heartfelt fellowship.
I invite you to consider in what ways you can put others before yourself. Doing so is an act of rebellion, it tells the competitive world that its ways do not define us. That even when systems push us to compete, we retain the power to choose putting others before ourselves.
How do you think God will respond to you once you decide to do so? Please leave your comments below!
To our wealth and success