I recently attended a Christian concert during which a host from a Christian radio station issued a 3 day Christian radio challenge. Obviously, this challenge consisted of listening to exclusively Christian radio for three days. Considering the fact that my radio diet consists pretty much of equal parts preaching and ESPN, I wasn’t really that interested. However, the competitive juices began flowing when my 9 year old son leans over and yells out, “Dad could never do that!” That did it. It was ON! The challenge had been issued. The gauntlet was laid. I had to step up. And I did. BIG TIME.
On day 4 I was proudly proclaiming my success at the 3 day Christian radio challenge when everyone burst into laughter and informed me he had said 30 days. It turns out it was a 30 day challenge – and I should probably get my hearing checked. I had hit my mark and believed and declared myself a success, but in fact had fallen woefully short of what the real mark should have been. Everyone had a good laugh and I returned to my regular listening habits, but my mishap got me thinking about this issue of goals and success.
I believe that too many Christians are living lives in which they are setting their sights way too low. We are measuring success by a standard far inferior to the standard we should be looking at. We settle for minor successes and miss out on grand victories. God has big plans for each of his children, but I am afraid that we aim much too small.
Think about it. Jesus set us free, yet we remain in a prison of our own making due to sin or guilt or shame – all the while proclaiming our freedom. Jesus said He came to give life more abundant, but we declare ourselves successful as we struggle to barely get through each day of a frazzled, hectic and certainly less than abundant life. Jesus said to live our lives for the heavenly kingdom, yet we’re proud of ourselves for going to church on occasion. Jesus said forsake all to follow me, but we say we are His followers while living for ourselves. Do you see the pattern? In these and a myriad of other ways, we aim lower than God’s standard and celebrate lesser victories.
We must aim higher. We must embrace true challenges, not our own deluded versions of them. It has been said that our greatest fear in life should not be failure, but rather success at things that do not matter. Are you truly succeeding at living the life God has for you, or are you merely succeeding at a trivial, self-made version of it? I pray that as the church we can rise up together and set our sights on God’s standard of success.