Recently a seminarian and I had a long-running conversation on the meaning of success. He wondered what difference it would make if he flunked his courses and was recorded as a dropout. What difference would it make if he failed to achieve those vocational goals that family, church, and seminary seemed to regard as successful? What is failure, anyway?
And, what is success? Worldly success is one thing; spiritual success is quite different. Worldly success is judged without reference to God or eternity. Spiritual success is judged by God from the perspective of eternity, without reference to the world's evaluation.
Let's take worldly success first. We need to make a further distinction. The world judges a person from two perspectives: private enterprise and public impact. A person may be enviously successful in his private life. He earns enough money to meet his needs and even gratify some of his desires. His neighbors respect him, his friends like him, his family loves him. He enjoys a maximum ...1