Sunday, January 24, 2010

Success and its pitfalls

We heard a great sermon today about the idol of success.

Two things stood out for me: one was the unconditional favor of our Lord. Now it's a spiritual cliché that "God loves you no matter what" or "God loves you unconditionally," but to think of God saying "My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased" before I did anything (or whether I accomplish anything ever at all) -- that's powerful. Likewise the idea that God God had something wonderful in mind when he thought you up.

The second thing that stood out was our foolish tendency to look to each other, rather than to the Lord, for our sense of success. It's not just wanting to feel successful that drives us; it's wanting somebody else to notice. And so among the (foolish) ways we try to feel good about ourselves is to compare the accomplishments of our kids. A truly over-the-top example can be seen in a video from "Goodness Gracious Me" where a "typical" (South) Asian father compares his son with "Mr. Anderson's son" or "Mr. Sena's son," etc.

US viewers, note that "A-levels" are similar to AP exams. You really only take one or two in a single day. Millwall is a professional soccer (or "football") team and Liverpool is one of the top pro soccer teams in England.
This father is rather exaggerated, but I the clip makes the very good point that our obsession with other people's kids is utter nonsense.

Ditto other people's careers, other people's houses, other people's cars, and so on.

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