“I am not called to be successful. I’m called to be faithful.” These well-known words of Mother Theresa pose a hard sell in our goal-driven society. It’s far too easy for us to jump on the cultural treadmill and conclude the chief end of man, rather than to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Westminster Confession), is to succeed. There’s nothing wrong with accomplishment. Who wants to be a failure? The problem lies more in the definition of success than its pursuit. God’s view of it appears to differ sharply from man’s.
I can’t help but think of the accident of missionary Steve Saint. Founder of I-Tech, an organization which develops gadgets to help spread the gospel to unreached people, Steve was testing a new devise when a propeller broke loose and hit his spine, causing paralysis from the neck down. But Steve’s spirit was not paralyzed. His willingness to lay down his independence as well as his ministry was evidenced in the way he described his future life as a paralytic…the next chapter. A chapter that would continue to be built on faithfulness. That is success in God’s eyes.
Neither Mother Theresa nor Steve Saint just arrived at faithfulness. Scripture tells us that he who is faithful in little will be faithful in much (Luke 16:10). Cultivating it begins in the everyday. After my dad’s recent death, I discovered the diary he kept in 2008, the year after his wife died. Since I lived over 400 miles away, concern over his aloneness evidently prompted me to call him regularly. For as I read the pages of his diary, I found recorded day after day…Becky called. Month after month…Becky called. Throughout the whole year…Becky called. I hadn’t even remembered this small act of faithfulness. But my father did.
And so, we have a Father in heaven who records all our phone calls, all our deeds. He’s writing down every act of kindness, every instance where we forgive, every single moment we choose to live for him. He notices our faithfulness even when others don’t. Even when we don’t ourselves. But someday, he’ll go over that record book with us. I don’t think God will be impressed with our honors, our degrees, or the wealth we accumulated. What will matter to him and to us will be reflected in the words….“Enter good and faithful servant.”
That is success in God’s eyes.