The Measuring Stick of Success
WE often measure ourselves by society's standards. One hardly feels successful if he doesn't have a job with a high salary and social contacts with the "right people. Another struggles with a feeling of failure after being laid off. Success seems to be measured primarily by the abundance--or lack--of material possessions. Such scales of self-measurement don't give a true picture of success or achievement--though they often yield despair, isolation, jealousy, depression, and lack of genuine self- respect.
There is, however, another way to measure success and one that's far more accurate in judging our real progress and achievement. It uses how well we're expressing moral and spiritual qualities as its scales. These qualities--spiritual treasures such as honesty, joy, integrity, compassion, courage, and humility--have God as their source. Man, who is created by God, is His child; man reflects these qualities from God and expresses them.
Measuring our success by how well we understand our genuine, spiritual identity as God's creation is not an insubstantial measurement--rather it's the most practical and accurate way to measure our success. Generosity, spiritual affection, forgiveness, and honesty strengthen our lives. Then we see that what is important is how our honesty has blessed another; how our spiritual compassion has helped to heal another's difficulty; how our joy has lighted another's path. This kind of success blesses everyone --and is permanent.
Since God is their source, it's always possible to cultivate more of the spiritual qualities we need in order to measure up on the yardstick of spiritual living. Unless we're willing to undertake the prayerful discipline this involves, however, we may find that it's tempting to accept failure as inevitable. But if we want to break free from having failure's shadow loom darkly over us, it's worth making the effort to turn to God.
God, ever-present Love, is always caring for us and helping us. If we're suffering from self-depreciation, limitation, feelings of failure, finding out that God, divine Truth, can be sought and found is the first step in changing our lives. This isn't a magical way of escape, but rather a healing process that provides what's really needed for genuine success in our lives. Instead of basing our self-esteem on material measurements of success, which inevitably lead to failure, we can find our true worth in
our spiritual identity as God's man.
In the Bible there's a story told by Christ Jesus of a man who was robbed, beaten, and left to die. Luke's Gospel tells how everyone passed him by except one--the one now known as the good Samaritan. The good Samaritan physically saw exactly the same thing the others had seen, but his compassion led him to do more. He cared for the man and left him in good hands.
If we pass by our own opportunities to look deeper into our innate goodness, spiritual achievement, and integrity, we'll help neither ourselves nor others to see man as God made him--spiritual and whole. When our estimation of success emphasizes material possessions and status in life, we're too easily robbed of true, spiritual success, which is ultimately based on man's expression of God's goodness. The material foundation, sooner or later, crumbles and dissolves if trust is rooted in matter as strength . Building on a spiritual foundation strengthens and encourages us, and we're able to grow more surely as we enlarge our spiritual understanding of God and man's relationship. We can build this spiritual foundation through prayer and a desire to follow God. With prayer as our sure foundation, success, achievement, self-esteem, joy, integrity, and strength are boundless and illimitable.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, "The discoverer of Christian Science finds the path less difficult when she has the high goal always before her thoughts, than when she counts her footsteps in endeavoring to reach it. We may think we have far to go before we feel spiritually successful. But when we're measuring success on the right scale, we know that it can be done. And it's worth it to start now to gain our true treasure of spiritual living.
Jesus urged us to seek this better way when he said, "Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Our spiritual treasures are the spiritual qualities we express and cultivate. They give us genuine worth, which can never be taken away or lost.
They measuring themselves by themselves,
and comparing themselves
are not wise.
But we will not boast of things
without our measure,
but according to the measure of the rule
which God hath distributed to us,
a measure to reach even unto you. . . .
He that glorieth,
let him glory in the Lord.
For not he that commendeth himself
but whom the Lord commendeth.
II Corinthians 10:12, 13, 17, 18