Looking for success in the right place

A Christian Science perspective: A response to the Monitor editorial ‘The payoff in not paying off an official.’

It’s not easy for companies to see their competitors get ahead because they are paying bribes to officials overseas. Nor is it any easier for an athlete to see his competitive edge slip away because of drug use by competitors, or for students to watch others achieve higher grades because of cheating on exams. Yet, resisting such temptations can ultimately be a greater payoff. The Monitor’s Editorial Board wrote: “A company’s long-term competitive advantage does not lie in its ability to pay bribes but in its resources, talent, and hard work. Success cannot be bought ...” (“The payoff in not paying off an official,” CSMonitor.com, April 17).

The greater payoff involves looking for success in the right place – within a broader concept than just the standard “bottom line” or the number of wins or high grades. Success within this broader concept involves a higher sense of fulfillment, one that results in true gain; it acknowledges that success is linked to integrity and involves resisting immoral temptations such as bribery, doping, cheating, etc.. Success in the right place, then, is ultimately measured by whether moral means were used to reach our goals and whether we earnestly employed our resources and talents through hard work.

We can find some encouraging, supportive words and examples in the Bible of individuals who looked for success in the right place. For example, King Solomon saw the connection between righteousness and prosperity when he said, “He that trusteth in his riches shall fall: but the righteous shall flourish as a branch” (Proverbs 11:28). He also acknowledged the importance of hard work, “He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich” (Proverbs 10:4). Competition in the world today seems to be all-encompassing and could try to lure us into resorting to immoral means and shortcuts to achieve success. Yet the Bible and our very own experience can help us understand that riches, in and of themselves, can be illusive, temporary, and undependable. True success, the kind that endures for the long term, is gained through moral means and diligent work.

Christ Jesus certainly proved this to be true. His parable of the talents showed how diligence was rewarded with success (see Matthew 25:14-29). His unparalleled morality, and his understanding of our true nature, even converted sinners such as Zacchæus, who set aside corrupt means and made restitution for his evil ways (see Luke 19:2-10). Jesus’ words and works proved that God, good, is our true creator – that God doesn’t lead us into temptation but delivers us from evil (see Matthew 6:13). He showed us that we can prayerfully acknowledge God as “Our Father,” (Matthew 6:9) and that this divine heritage gives us the strength to overcome and resist immoral temptations such as bribery and cheating. Seeing ourselves and others in this way not only brings success found in the right place, but real healing as well.

The founder of this publication and the discoverer of Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, wrote: “The conscientious are successful. They follow faithfully; through evil or through good report, they work on to the achievement of good; by patience, they inherit the promise. Be active, and, however slow, thy success is sure: toil is triumph;...” (“Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896,” p. 340).

Through our diligent efforts and prayers we can expect to reach true and lasting success through moral means. And our example and higher, more spiritual view of others will help to encourage and prayerfully support mankind in this endeavor.

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.