by Charles R. Swindoll
Maybe we should confess that one reason we find it so hard to set selfishness aside and adopt the spirit of a servant is that we're driven by dreams of success. We want to be winners.
Face it; we live in a success-saturated society. Right next to the books applauding our selfishness are dozens of bestsellers telling us how we can be more successful. Dozens of books and magazines every year, along with scores of DVDs and hundreds of seminars, offer new ideas and new motivation techniques that have the promise of prosperity. Success is big business. No wonder thinking like servants is so hard.
Curiously, however, few ever address what most folks want (but seldom find) in their pursuit of success: contentment, fulfillment, satisfaction, and relief. On the contrary, the roads that are supposed to lead to success are not only rocky; they're maddening. As the Executive's Digest once reported, "The trouble with success is that the formula is the same as the one for a nervous breakdown."
And what formula is that? Work longer hours, push ahead, let nothing hinder your quest—not your marriage or family, not your convictions or conscience, not your health or friends. Be aggressive and, if necessary, mean, as you press toward the top. You gotta be smart, slick, and sly if success is the bottom line of your agenda. It's the same old fortune-fame-power-pleasure line we've been fed for decades.
At the risk of sounding ultra-simplistic, I'd like to offer some counsel that stands 180 degrees in contrast to all the above. My suggestions will never appear in the Wall Street Journal or as part of the Harvard Business School curriculum, but they do represent a philosophy supported in Scripture.
You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:5-7)
These verses address three crucial realms related to true success: authority, attitude, and anxiety. And the best part of all is this: following God's directives will bring the one benefit not found in the world's empty promises—a deep sense of lasting satisfaction.
It's what we could call the forgotten side of success. And I would add that it is the success that will come to those who wish to develop the heart of a servant.
Reprinted by permission. Day by Day, Charles Swindoll, July 2005, Thomas Nelson, inc., Nashville, Tennessee. All rights reserved. Purchase "Day by Day" here.