March 4, 2024

How do we judge if we’re successful?

Am I successful at the right things?

Everyone in life wants to be successful. They want to know that what they do and that their life matters.

What constitutes success is something we internalize from the culture around us. We’re shown examples of people that we are told are successful– the business person that has a lot of money, the politician that has a lot of power. The leaders in our lives that are able to attract attention, the person with the most Twitter followers or the most readers to their blog.

How does someone go about determining if they are truly successful? I mean, there are people out there that are competing at video games and making a bunch of money doing so– does this make them successful? Should we all go do that?

By What Standard?

The question all comes down to, how do we judge whether someone is successful. What standard do we apply?

Obviously there are any number of standards that could be applied, such as someone could call you successful if you’re able to rob a bank without being caught. Certainly you were successful at your task, but society and culture would judge you as being successful at a wrong thing. How then do we judge whether we are successful at the right things?

Defining Good without an external is arbitrary

Many people internalize what they believe to be good from their culture, and while some may accept that their culture promotes something as good when they know it to be bad, the culture has an impact.

Take, for instance, vices like gambling, drunkenness, speeding– there’s a general believe that these things are bad, or maybe bad for you, but our culture still promotes or encourages them by the behavior of others. When this happens, we’re essentially saying that this thing is good, even if there’s some part of us that believes them to be bad.

Since something cannot be both good and bad, there needs to be a standard. We have rulers that measure length so that we all have the same length, and once upon a time, we measured in cubits. How long is a cubit? Well, the length from the tips of the king’s finger to his elbow! What happens when we get a new king? Well, new cubit. The standard is defined by the person, so there is no true standard.

When it comes to the metric system, each unit is defined a specific way by something that will not change. In order to properly define something, it has to be outside the system and be objective and not arbitrary.

So where should such a standard come from?

Religion Provides a Standard

This is where religions come into play. Each religious teaching proposes a standard of behavior that is good. This gets us closer to where we need to be if we’re to have an objective definition of success. If there are gods or a God, specifically if that God is the Creator God, then it would be well within His rights to define what is good and what is meant by success.

As a Christian, I believe that the God of the Bible is the true Creator God and therefore has the ability to determine the criteria of whether a person is successful in their life or not.

If a Christian believes that success is measured by God’s standard and His call, how should that Christian behave?

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