In the 90’s the TV show “Seinfeld” had an episode where everything in the world seemed to be backwards. Lately, it appears that art has begun to imitate life… especially as it relates to moral character and spiritual ideals. We applaud the very worldly concept of achieving “success at any cost ” yet wonder why our core relationships (God, marriage and family) are eroding. We worship celebrities and aspire to be treated like them even in our spiritual domains but we are failing miserably at keeping our households in order and that has become acceptable. Our ability to look successful to the outside world is becoming an accepted norm but the emotional, physical and spiritual man is suffering and dying from lack. Is this what God intended or are our egos killing our legacies?
God’s definition of success for man and for marriage has much more to do with our commitment to obedience to His word rather than our works (Proverbs 3:5-7, Ephesians 5:21). When we strive to be obedient to His word, will and way we can achieve success that is according to His standard rather than the worlds. Our focus shifts to areas He has identified that are important such as our marriages and relationships rather than financial or personal pursuits. Even if we have identified our careers as our calling or purpose, it’s important to maintain our drive in alignment with the maintenance of our core relationships.
Father God has identified the importance and priority of marriage by indicating that when we are marrying our spouse we are also making a covenant with Him (Matthew 19:5-6). It’s not a frivolous union to be dissolved because we don’t have the time or patience to balance it while we climb the corporate ladder. He reveals that our unions are the conduits to bringing forth generations of people who will both worship Him and rule the earth (Gen 1:28), what’s more impactful, powerful or successful than that?
If we have an awareness of Gods plan then why do we become overwhelmed in our pursuits for career success? How de we devote so much of our time and energy towards personal achievements and put our core relationships second or sometime third as a priority? It’s because ultimately our tendency is to follow the world’s ideals that tell us to be more “self focused” and to pursue outward affirmation as a sign of success. We believe the more we can gain attention and admiration and financial wealth from others then we are being successful, but like most false beliefs, it often leaves us feeling more empty and alone because generally speaking the actual pursuit for attention and affirmation can be isolating.
The key is to measure success by God’s standards and not the world’s and to be willing to examine ways to get off the unsuccessful cycle of being overly driven for personal gains rather than collective successes. In order to accomplish this we must examine our thoughts and expectations. We must be willing to reshape our thoughts as it relates to our importance in relationships and our expectations of others while we are grinding in our careers. The challenge is to remember the following:
- All the world is not a stage – Stop expecting to be applauded and praised for doing a mediocre job of communicating and connecting. Don’t settle for looking like you have a healthy relationship. Invest your time in nurturing your relationship. If you are desirous of being successful at home you have to be willing to put in the work of surrendering to the will of God, following his plan and obeying his word.
- Reality focused vs. False expectation focused – Our lives are not romantic comedies or fairy tales. Being real means accepting your fears and failures and extending grace to your for those of your spouse. Don’t allow expectations that are in your head to drive your relationship and foster feelings of disappointment. Don’t leverage your spouse’s weakness and failures as a way to hide your own.
- Stop expecting what you are unwilling to give – Most people who have successful careers understand the necessity to give 120% yet when we come home we expect to be treated like kings and queens but do not want to give our time and effort. Ultimately, we send the message that our careers deserve our best and our relationships (with God and spouse) can have the rest.
God does not deny us the ability to work hard or achieve in our respective fields but the current rate of divorce and broken families are not His intended results. Learning to balance our pursuits and striving to be obedient to His will for our lives, marriages and families can ensure that we obtain true success.
Dale and Venessa Harewood