Let me pose a question. When you die, regardless of what you believe about God, can you take any of your success with you? Many Pharaoh’s tombs have been opened that were full of jewels, gold, and riches beyond imagination. It was put in there so that the Pharaoh could use it in his next life. None of it left the tomb and went to where the Pharaoh went. Do you think somehow it will be different for you, or me? The success of this world, the stuff of this world, stays in this world. We cannot take it with us.
From the moment we are born, success is the standard for our lives. Our parents want us to succeed at breast feeding, walking, talking, potty training, running, jumping and more. When we are sent off to school, we are expected to succeed at the challenges the teacher puts before us, reading, writing, arithmetic, socializing, self-control, studying, communicating, following instructions. When we enter the adult world and the workforce, whether as a neurosurgeon, a dirty job holder, or anything between, success is the objective. Be the best at what you do, be better than the person next to you, be known by others for how you perform in the realm of success. Your performance dictates the degree of your success.
Money is a tool used to trade your skills and capabilities for material goods, but it is also a measuring stick of your success. Remember, your savings account, brokerage account, IRA, 401k, etc. are all just paper. At any time, those numbers can be reduced to zero by events totally out of your control. Does 2008 ring a bell?
The day will come when someone says to you, “relax, take a break, let your money and material accumulation work for you, go and do the things you’ve always wanted to do.” Or you may hear someone say, “you’ve been dealing with this grind for the last 30 or 40 years. Walk away from it, do the things you’ve always wanted to do.” However it comes, you will be challenged to step out of the chase for success and into the world of capturing what you may have missed along the way. Many people call that “retirement.” Yet, when you do decide to make the change, the chase for success can and probably will continue to drive you. ‘I know I can break 90 on the golf course, I know I can become a 4.0 tennis player, I know I can visit those 80 countries I’ve always wanted to visit; I know I can build that vacation home I have always dreamed of. Your performance will dictate your degree of success in these endeavors as well. So, you pursue them. You move into this new season of your life, but you are still motivated by success. You break 90, you make the 4.0 tennis team, you visit all 80 countries, and you build that vacation home.
Then a day comes when you hear the song by Peggy Lee singing in the background, “Is that all there is?” I’ve been hearing that song a lot recently. It plays on the radio. I watched a tribute to the singer’s life on T.V. It plays in my subconscious. Is that all there is? Will my life be remembered for anything significant? This is the challenge of author Lloyd Reeb in his book From Success to Significance. ”Success is great. but significance is lasting." Or as John Maxwell states it in his Law of Significance that “one is too small a number to achieve greatness. Success is when I add value to myself, but significance is when I add value to others.” Yes, there is significance in this world. But it takes a success oriented approach to become significant here on earth. This motivates many to build hospital wings, church buildings, university classrooms, and other philanthropic endeavors. Success provides an opportunity to make this world a better place. Success oriented significance can leave a legacy for generations to admire and benefit from. But, both are motivated by a striving for success.
Before we go to my next point, I want to make something clear. I’m not suggesting that chasing success and becoming successful is a bad thing in any way. In fact, success is what makes this world go around. Success is the real commodity of exchange here, isn’t it? Where would we be without it? We live in the most technological and economically successful time of history, right? So please, never accuse me of being anti success.
I remember the joke about the Christian who shows up at the gates of heaven with a huge bag filled with gold. Two angels meet him there and tell him to leave the bag behind, that he won’t need it in heaven. But he insists and the angels acquiesce. As the man moves on, the two angels look at one another, scratching their heads. One says to the other, what do you think he wants to do with all that paving material? For the Christian as well as for anyone else, you can’t take your success with you. God, the creator of Heaven and Earth, has told us umpteen different ways that you came into this world with nothing, and you will leave this world the same way. Actually, I think he said naked in and naked out.
But, for the ones who put their hope and belief on the gift of Jesus, the Messiah, God has told and shown us that there is a possibility to store up “for ourselves” treasures in Heaven, where moths and rust won’t destroy them. If that’s so, what are those treasures? Contrary to many popular beliefs, the only things that enter Heaven are people. Oh, I’ve heard the treatise in support of pets being in heaven, but that is arguable. People, that is not arguable. There is a city to operate and angels to judge, all of it done by those who find themselves in that place for eternity. When they arrive, they will be greeted by the treasures they stored up for themselves while they lived out their earthly lifetime.
Heaven is also where the will of God is done explicitly, without any interference. Remember, “thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. I’m sure you’ve repeated those words of Jesus before. By the way, Heaven is also God’s Kingdom; the place where every knee bows, and every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord. I know that sounds a bit exclusive, but it is an exclusive place. Although, I believe all God’s children are afforded the opportunity to hear the Spirit’s voice, there comes a time when some hear that voice prompting a move from Earthly Success to Kingdom Significance. Its not an all or nothing suggestion but the two motivations are very different. As you loosen your grip on striving for success and performance and begin making investments in Kingdom Significance, your ROI will also change. The profits and returns from these investments are going into a long-term (eternal) Kingdom portfolio. You may only see a glimpse of the results until you arrive in the Kingdom. But rest assured, the portfolio will be there when you arrive.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moths or rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
It will probably take a serious amount of practice and some good coaching to keep you moving in the direction of Kingdom significance. Coaches Tip is willing to encourage you along the way. It is also my expression of moving from earthly success to Kingdom significance. Please join me on that journey as we discover how to effectively store up treasures in Heaven by loving, engaging with, and investing in people; those who will join us there.