Some thoughts on success

A couple of blogs on this subject have caught my eye recently. Most provocative was J.I. Packer's statement quoted by Justin Taylor:

"The world’s idea that everyone, from childhood up, should be able at all times to succeed in measurable ways, and that it is a great disgrace not to, hangs over the Christian community like a pall of acrid smoke.”

Then I saw this comment on the Desiring God blog from former U.S. Senator Jim Rubens:

"We are pedaling harder to reach increasingly unreachable status goals, leading to unsustainable consumer and business debt loans, rising dissatisfaction with life, deteriorating social and family relationships, pervasive ethical decline, rising substance and behavioral addictions."

It is hardly an untypical lament on the state of society, of course. The blog writer went on to show how the gospel inverts our typical understanding of success:

"For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?" (Luke 9:25)

Here are a couple of other thoughts I've picked up:

"Paul was faithful, yet he ended up in prison. John the Baptist was faithful, yet he was beheaded. Millions of faithful people have been martyred, have lost everything, or have come to the end of life with nothing to show for it. But the end of life is not the end." - Rick Warren, The purpose-drive life

The commendation of God is not in the growth (because He brings that) but in the obedience. - Terry Virgo

For me, success is pretty much getting to work on time in the morning, although by then I'm often tempted to wonder how I'm measuring up according to how successfully I've washed, dressed, eaten breakfast and spent time with God!

The point seems to be having a standard to measure ourselves up against. Packer's quote stirs me because it suggests that Christians can get this very wrong.