I was just out of college, newly married, and wondering what to do with my life.
I thought of it in terms of job, career, source of income.
Maybe that’s a natural place for a young man to be. The newfound responsibility of a family was surely one element of the pressure I felt.
But it was more than that. It was the expectations I felt – the idea of what a “good man” was supposed to do with his life.
One word describes the thing I was longing for…
At the time I defined success in life by the typical things:
- A decent salary
- A nice home
- A new car
- A “career path” that seemed clear and straightforward.
So I got a job.
At a bank. Then managing a Dairy Queen. Working a part time Jr. High ministry job on the side.
My hope and prayer was to eventually, quickly, move into a “full time” ministry position. Then I’d have the opportunity to get all those indicators of success under my belt.
That’s when the bottom fell out.
My wife experienced a life-threatening heart-block (not a heart attack, that’s something different). Not only was it doubtful whether she’d even live, we had no money and no health insurance. And we had a newborn son.
The pressure was on – and I didn’t feel like much of a success. And things continued to get worse.
I had to quit the Dairy Queen job because my boss wanted me to be at work instead of caring for my wife as she lay in ICU.
The medical bills piled up to the sky.
And I still didn’t know what to do with my life
But looking back I clearly see that it was in those days that I learned something vital, something that would carry me the rest of my life.
Success is not gauged by things like salary, profit and loss statements, and accolades.
It’s not seen in the accumulation of things, money, or privileges.
It’s the people that matter, not the stuff.
It’s the relationships that we will carry into eternity, not the accomplishments.
I knew it instinctively.
Quitting the Dairy Queen job without an idea of how we’d survive is proof of the fact.
That’s when what I was to do with my life became clear
God’s purpose for me was NOT to puff myself up with accomplishments and notoriety, it was to care for the people He’d placed into my life.
The “teacher” of Ecclesiastes makes it clear how shallow the pursuit of earthly “success” is…
Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business. – Ecclesiastes 4:7-8
Did you get that?
Those words ring true to my experience.
I’m still learning that what I’m going to do with my life has nothing to do with me changing the world. It has to do with me changing MY world – the one where my spouse, kids, friends, and church family live day in and day out.
I don’t see it that way all the time because often, my ambition is so big that I miss the most important things.
So the question remains… what are YOU going to do with your life and how do your business pursuits figure in to the equation?
- Where does your family fit into the picture? What do you need to do in order to keep those relationships vital, or reclaim them?
- Is it all about personal profit, or are you truly seeking to build relationships with people (clients, customers, team members, etc.)
- What’s the absolute BEST that could happen for people through your business?
- What would it take for you to make that happen?
- It could be costly in some ways. Would the rewards and benefits outweigh the costs?