As a recent college graduate, it’s easy to fall into people’s expectations. You stop looking towards what professors and mentors have to say about passing your classes and possibly sticking with good grades. It’s easy to conform to the expectations and standards of the “real” world, which includes those who have traveled any longer distance than you have. You’re out to figure it on your own but people tell you to do things a certain way because it has worked for them or simply because “that’s the way it goes.”
Today, the entrepreneur and author, Dale Partridge, released a new book, titled, “Saved from Success: How God Can Free You from Culture’s Distortion of Family, Work, and the Good Life”. I was fortunate enough to be a part of the launch team and have made my way through the book before its release (April 17). This post will only go into certain key points made in the first chapter of the book. I hope it sparks interest for you to purchase here and begin reading it.
Disclaimer: I want to first say that I am not sponsored or paid by Dale Partridge to promote this book. I am currently reading it and have found it motivating and wanted to speak a bit about it. It’s an honest and heartfelt recommendation.
The book speaks of the difference between what culture says success can be versus what the Bible teaches us it really is. Partridge covers an extensive amount of things that fall under success like; money, purpose, family (marriage and children), and so forth. Partridge claims that “True success is often counterintuitive to how our culture defines it.”
To get a better idea of the term, I googled the definition of “success”. The first three definitions are, as follows:
- the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.
- the attainment of popularity or profit.
- a person or thing that achieves desired aims or attains prosperity.
I find it interesting that one of the words used to define success is “prosperity”. According to Partridge, one of the many synonyms of success is “prosperity”, alongside “…affluence, wealth, fame, reward, and opulence.” In the Christian community, you may have heard of the term “prosperity gospel”. I believe that this is a version of Christianity that has fallen under culture’s ideas of success, where teachers try to fit God into those ideas. This could possibly be out of making sure that followers don’t get offended when God tells them they shouldn’t be comfortable where they are in life. I will not go far into this conversation, but we need to realize that part of biblical success is not to always have more.
Whether it’s the job or money, this type of success shouldn’t be the center and focus of our joy, purpose, or how we are to prove a prosperous life.
The Comparison Game
I haven’t experienced the “adult” life for a good amount of time or had the responsibility of supporting a family, but there is one thing that I have realized… Success is a comparison game.
Success is how you present yourself compared to others around you. Some may disagree but, in general, that’s what I have seen and heard. I’m on the other end of this as well where I do the comparison. Recently, I began working at a car dealership and I accumulate so many assumptions simply from what a person drives. You can even say that I “judge them”. If they come in a brand new Cadillac, I may think that this person is doing well in all areas of life. I begin to think of the houses they may have and possibly other cars they may shelter in their garage, but that doesn’t define the home the person goes to.
That person who drives a Cadillac is possibly in the midst of a divorce or might be going through an illness or have a relative who is on their deathbed. Even with a great job, the person can be miserable in his relationship with his children (or parents). We need to reach deeper than the surface. Jobs, possessions, or money don’t matter if you’re broken and have a failing marriage, family, or friendships.
Don’t Go with the Crowd.
In his book, Partridge says, “The Older I get and the longer I live, the more I realize that culture’s way of success is simply foolishness.” He continues, “That the direction of the majority is actually the opposite of maturity. That what is popular is almost never superior, and trendy does not equal better.”
We fall into the hands of cultural success by doing as others do. I grew up always being compared to my older brother because he was living life “well”. I can’t disagree and say that he wasn’t, because he has enjoyed the things he has done. But it can be frustrating being told to do something you don’t have a passion for.
God may ask you to move towards a direction people question. Trust me when I say this… whether they are in the church or not, many people will oppose what God calls you to do. This may be because it is out of the norm of what culture tells us to do. Partridge later says, “The world’s advice will often take more than you’re willing to give and leave you in a worse place than you started.” Success and how people define it does not mean that you will be a better person.
Jesus also tries to remind us of how following the crowd can end in a bad place.
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 17:13-14
Don’t try to be like other people. Don’t play the comparison game with people who are at different places in life and who may find a passion and security in something that you don’t or shouldn’t. Many of them are simply following the crowd.
Remember that Jesus didn’t die for you to have that prosperous and successful life. While it is good to enjoy what you have, you need to remember that we are promised a new life and place with Him. The famous saying of Romans 12:2 is also a good example of how we are to discern success.
“2 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.”
Buy the Book! It’s a good one!
I hope that these words provoke a thought in you. What purpose do you believe God has called you to pursue? Ask yourself if your version of success is aligned with His will.
I encourage you to buy this book in that link I placed above. I am just about to finish it and I can’t recommend it enough. Partridge is very direct and convicting. It may be just what you need.