I don't know that any of us have a lifelong dream of being a complete failure. To not accomplish any of the goals we set for ourselves, to not do anything to help others, or to leave earth with no legacy to be celebrated. We want to outlive our lifespan and have the fact that we were here in the first place matter. The question is, how on earth do we manage that?
First, I think we need to realize that our words have power. We can use them to breathe life into ourselves and others. They can be used to influence and encourage generations far beyond us because their impact lays a foundation for those yet to come. Think back to that teacher, friend, or stranger that said something that changed the trajectory of your life. While they likely didn't understand the magnitude of their interaction with you, it set a course not only for your life, but for all those within your circle because of the ripple effect.
Second, we need to remember we aren't just here for us. We aren't supposed to just kick back and relax once we accomplish what we set out to do while others are still working and struggling. We are meant to take our experiences out into the world and use them for the good of all.
Finally, I think we need to be intentional about the goals we are setting for ourselves. Home ownership and comfortable retirement accounts are great, but if you raise kids that don't visit you because they are so focused on attaining those things for themselves, what have you succeeded in doing? Success can't be an accumulation of assets and wealth that can disappear in the blink of an eye. Success should be about loving others well to free them to do the same. To be generous with your time and attention to make others feel valued and important. To be the hands and feet of Jesus that reach out to pick someone else up and say that it's not over yet.
God tells Joshua to keep the Book of the Law always on his lips and to think about it day and night so that he is careful to do what it says. He tells him that if he does these things he will be successful and prosperous. Jesus later tells us the greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all our heart, mind, soul and then to love others as ourselves. Why? Because when our hearts and minds are set right on what matters most, the overflow of our hearts will direct our words, actions, beliefs, and intentions.
I don't ever want to be defined or valued by what I do or not own. However, I do want to be defined by Who owns me. As a child of God, bought with the blood of Christ, the only success and prosperity I want to actively seek is being faithful in what Jesus asks me to do. I would much rather lay up treasures in heaven that moth and rust can not destroy and a thief can not steal than gather earthly possessions that can't come with me.
Jesus, help us to focus on what matters most: seeking You above all else, being satisfied with You more than anything else, and giving You all the glory for the abundant life others see us live. We want success Your way because Your way brings joy and peace. Amen