What does it mean for me to be successful in life? This is a question I have had to think about a lot over the last few years, during which I have had to make many decisions about school, career, and marriage; for example, whether to earn a PhD or not, who to marry, where to live, what church to attend, what job to choose, how many hours to put into work, whether to aggressively to seek a promotion, etc. These were decisions that I believed would greatly impact the direction and outcome of my life in the years to come.

After taking time to observe how the world defines success, one thing that stood out to me was how closely success was tied to a person’s identity/profession i.e. who they profess to be. Take a moment to think about the people you consider to be the most successful on earth. Most likely the names that would come to mind are some of the top businessmen/CEOs, athletes, or Hollywood actors. If you notice, it is very difficult to classify a person as successful without first assigning them a profession (e.g. business person, athlete, actor, etc), after which we ignore every other area of their life.

Both Jeff Bezos and Michael Jordan would be considered among the most successful people in the world. Bezos because of the success of Amazon and his wealth, Jordan because of his basketball career. No one cares if Bezos is a terrible basketball player or if Jordan can run a company, or how successful their family life is. Thus, we always first identify a person’s profession(who they profess to be), assess them based on that, and then pass an opinion on if they have been successful in life.

Hence, I have seen whatever immediately comes to mind when I think about success serves as a great indicator of who I am professing to be in my heart, irrespective of what I might say openly. For example, if the achievement that immediately comes to mind is:

  • working for a top tech company, then I’m professing to be an Engineer
  • coming out top in my class, then I’m professing to be a Scholar
  • owning a big home, then I’m professing to be a Homeowner
  • getting a green card, then I’m professing to be an Immigrant
  • earning lots of money, then I’m professing to be a Businessman

However, if the primary thing I seek to accomplish in life is to walk closely with Jesus and become like Him in every way possible, then I am professing to be a Disciple of Jesus. This is because a disciple’s primary objective is to learn to become like his master.

Therefore, I have sought to remind myself often that the success of my time on earth will not be judged by how much money I earned, the amount of property I had, how well-known I was, or any such thing. Although there is nothing wrong with prospering in these areas, it will count for nothing in eternity. Rather, I will be judged by how much I grew in likeness to Jesus in every area of my life including family, church, career, finance, relationship with others, etc. May the Lord help us all to be successful Christians. Amen!

“For from the very beginning God decided that those who came to him—and all along he knew who would—should become like his Son, so that his Son would be the First, with many brothers” - Romans 8:29 TLB