Recently I became a “Papa”! This is me looking into the eyes our first grandchild Juliet Bella! 

What a heart-pumping and face-illuminating joy this is for Kristi and me! Yet, it’s not easy for us to make space in our calendars and to save energy in our bodies to give quality care to her. This reminds me of the challenge that pastors, leaders, and workers of all kinds have to keep their priorities and heart aligned with connecting relationally.

It helps us to remind ourselves of what success looks like in God’s eyes. I’ve been asking this question since I was a high school student and I wrote a paper on “True Success”. 

Most people think of success in terms of outward things like accomplishments, wealth, looking great, being popular, or displaying their Christian wisdom. A glance at Facebook or Instagram shows people measuring their lives in these ways. 

For Jesus and the prophets, leaders, and apostles of the Bible success is all about loving other people as God loves us (e.g., Jesus’ Greatest Commandment in Mark 12:29-31).

But even followers of Jesus are quite confused about what love is. Most people view it as a desire. One person says, “I love apple pie a la mode!” Others say “I love baseball… shopping… worship music… Brennan Manning books…” But what we’re really saying is those things make us feel happy.

In contrast, many Christian teachers say “Love is an action” (or belief plus action). That’s not much better because it can be faked or forced. Love includes action, just as it normally includes emotion or desire. But genuine love is much deeper than either or both.

Love is the fixed intention of our heart to promote the welfare of people around us whenever we can do so. It’s first of all and primarily a matter of our heart, which is our will, our capacity to chose. 

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy…” (1 Corinthians 13:4) These are characteristics or qualities of being; they’re cultivated intentions that become settled attitudes that become habitual preparedness to act with God’s Spirit.

Jesus taught that to love perfectly is to be merciful, compassionate, or tender-hearted toward others, just as our heavenly Father is toward us (see Luke 6:36 in various translations and compare to Matthew 5:48). 

Mary of Bethany called the Lord “Rabbonai” because of the tender-hearted empathy and grace he shows to broken, busted people like her and me and all who come to God like little children. This shocked the world — and it still does 2,000 years later!

In fact, the Radiant Carpenter-Rabbi insisted that the pastors, leaders, and all adults needed to become like little children to enter God’s kingdom (Mark 9:37 and 10:14-15). In other words, real and lasting success begins with slowing down and tenderizing our hearts to care for children and adults who are childlike. 

Kristi and I are enjoying bonding with our precious, little Juliet. We pray this new season helps us and you to view compassion as our greatest success. 

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Listen to our latest Soul Talks episode:

119 – Courage: Success is Not Sufficient