A man (by ‘man’, I mean humankind- both male and female) is generally measured as successful based on two things: his marriage (and family), and his career. I once heard someone saying, “At her age, she should be thinking of her marriage and career.” I believe those are the two things that the majority of humanity lives for.* Once an individual is “of age”, done with education, he/she starts looking for:
- a job (preferably one with upward mobility possibilities), and
- the one person they plan on spending the rest of their life with.
This is the norm, this is what is expected, and this is what makes you “a success.” This will even, in some cases, be seen as fulfilling purpose.
From another perspective, we have an example, a perfect example of what fulfilling purpose really entails. He is a flawless model of successful living. His very being is the definition of success. In fact, in the dictionary definition of success should have His picture right beside it. His name is Jesus.
At 30, He had no wife, no job. In fact to pay tax, He had to ‘rely’ on divine provision (Matt 17:24-27). To take it further, He had no plans for a wife, and no plans for a job. The ‘job’ in this sense is our conventional idea of what a ‘job’ is. His father was a carpenter, and He must have helped out and learned the trade himself. In Matt 13:55, and Mark 6:3, He is referred to as “the carpenter’s son” and “the carpenter”. But at the time His ministry began, I don’t think He was actively involved in carpentry. Correct me, if I’m wrong. He remained unmarried throughout His life (contrary to what Dan Brown insinuates in the Da Vinci code).
So, with respect to those two decisive ‘conditions’ for success, Jesus Christ falls short. But can anyone boast of having a stronger sense of purpose, such a clearly defined vision and goal? Jesus said with all conviction that He knew where He was coming from and where He was going to (Luke 4:18-19), and He got there. How much more “successful” can you get?
People, we need to rethink our standards.**
*To be clear, this perspective is heavily coloured by my personal upbringing and experiences. Perhaps it is just unique to the Nigerian culture, or more specifically my own sphere of existence within said culture.
**This is not to downplay the importance of jobs and marriage/family. Not at all, this just says that we aren’t defined by those things. What really matters is pleasing God.