(By no means is this a slick audio recording…completely unabridged and unedited, but in the realness and the raw of it all – this quaky voice, this background chatter of a babe & the noisy ringing of a phone, may a truth or two about success put fire into your soul)
Talking about the keys to success that open life up to a plethora of joy and satisfaction?
These are the keys I want to embrace this year…the keys with which I set my sail off, this brand new season…
You see, when I bumped into them accidentally in the middle of an eastern-state city convention centre some 5 years ago, it was like finding a key…
Like finding a key and inserting it into a knob called “home”, the place where roots first grow and wings take flight.
Home to all these desires to do and to be – because deep within…we all want something deeper. We all yearn to live like we have been made for more — and truly, we have been made for more.
Our conversation that day, after a span of 16 years, felt like the unlocking of a door to a life designated for success…true and tried success.
So what do you do when those instrumental in your life speak? I come and sit, perk my ears up to listen…after all, they’ve touched my life, they’ve shaped my faith.
You see, this couple had welcomed me into their home some twenty three years ago, the group of us, mere youths made of bone and skin. They generously flung their door open, and embraced us. With no strings attached. Only love attaching them to us.
They allowed us – this bunch of youths, mere bones and pimples, to take residence in their lives, to merely be and simply exist. And in the process, they taught us the truth about the God who first loved us.
They didn’t know it back then, that by so doing, they’ve picked up some bruised reeds, watered some dry grounds, and set alight some hearts perfect for the kindling of a holy fire.
So I asked them that day, what they understood of the word “success”. Because for all I know, they embody a success that’s inter-generational, a success that involves building the lives of others so that others too can thrive.
And for myself? I wanted to set the record straight, I wanted to learn how to think differently this year, and in so doing, live life significantly forward.
And over coffee and around the dinner table, I hear but one message.
And over two weeks and around different activities, I see but one life lived.
This message that keeps burning them up…and this message with which they light our worlds:
“Build the House of God”
They’d say it over the podium, they’d lived it in their own skin:
Godly Priority leads to Godly Prosperity
Simple, but profound. Authentic, but deeply sincere.
As Haggai would warn us today, we have all allowed the house of God to lie in ruins while we busy ourselves building our panelled homes.
When we make it a priority to build God’s house – by giving it our highest focus, our primary priority, our utmost attention – something wonderful happens, something miraculous unravels.
I have been guilty of this — allowing my mind to be dazzled by the glamour of this world, consumed with the busyness of running my own life. And in the thick of it all?, losing something precious about life, missing something significant that comes only when life is traded for service.
For a whole generation of us, the 20s and the 30s, we who feel like we have to make it happen in our lifetime to be successful – we need to remember that ultimately, success originates with God and promotion comes only from Him.
Because if we try and work ourselves down to the grave, in the hope of becoming influential and affluent, we become like the man busy chasing after the wind – planting much, but harvesting little, producing much but never having enough, earning wages but only to put them in a purse with holes in it.
The truth is that — we can work hard all our lives, and still feel unfulfilled. Because this sense of meaning and identity only come as an overflow of finding our life’s biggest purpose – in Him.
I suppose, that’s just the way it is.
Real success is touching the heart of God, and Him building into us – a life that blesses others, a life that spells fruition – no matter the season.
And you know what? This year is a Year of Yes.
Yes to God and Yes to Others, and a thousand No to a string of things unimportant and distracting.
It is the time to say yes to the moving of God in our limitation, in our finite resources…so we can witness seeing Him perform the truly miraculous.
Isn’t this what success is calling us to do? Making space for the holy, so that the Holy can then move on in us? And significance about making a margin everyday for worship, so that God can then transform our world, through the transformed us?
For everything i’ve learned from them this past two decades, this one rings loud and clear:
Don’t discard relationships that are gritty, friendships that are shaky.
People are always going to problematic, raw emotions always ugly. But they can all be raw materials with which God uses, if we would place posterity over preservation.
Preservation builds only for ourselves, while posterity launches us off to invest into our future generation.
Life is not all about us.
What are we building?
This task of building the house of God – is then about building the people of God – building a people for God. To love them, to serve them, to lead them.
It’s a huge task and a significant ask – we musn’t be depressed about the enormity of it all, overwhelmed by the challenges that tower over us, discouraged by the progress that slow us down, nor disheartened when we see how truly limited we are.
Because, as in the word of O.A Battista: “we have reached the pinnacle of success as soon as we become uninterested in money, compliments, or publicity“, because this is the way calling works – you don’t care what goes back crediting you, but you mind about what goes up magnifying Him…because the highest reward for your work is not what you get for it, but what you became by it.
May we be diligent in asking God to keep our hearts free, because in this promise of “I am with You“, He will surely aid and empower us.