Phil Downer in his book, Eternal Impact, differentiates between the value of success and significance. For success, he likes the definition Chip MacGregor and Bobb Biehl devised, “the feeling you get when you reach your goals.” Phil defines significance as “making a difference in the lives of people over time.” For Downer, the distinction between success and significance is that the former ends with the attainment of goals whereas the latter has a lasting dimension. I’m conflicted with his distinction because the ability to attain significance is a mark of success. But let’s take it deeper to the point Phil is really making—reproduction of what is important is what we ought to seek. To do this requires training.
Let’s make a case for the ten greatest empires/kingdoms of all time.
#1. The Roman Empire: Considered preeminent for its sheer power and long-standing influence in military and political systems, art, literature, and religion.
#2. The Mongol Empire: Five times the size of Alexander the Great’s territory, Genghis Khan established a kingdom that stretched from Eastern Europe to China.
#3. The British Empire: Almost a quarter of the earth’s landmass was covered by an empire effective in warfare and trade.
On August 25th,I will serve my last day in the military. Over forty years ago, God graciously allowed me to enter West Point. The military academy took a chance on me as I was a clear academic risk with a weak background in math and sciences. Before I set foot on that military reservation in New York, I claimed Daniel 1:17. “God gave these four young men knowledge and understanding in every kind of literature and wisdom. Daniel also understood visions and dreams of every kind.” I figured if God could give my hero, the prophet Daniel, wisdom in how to thrive in Babylon, He could help me survive four years of tough courses. He did just that.
Philippians 1:29-2:4—For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on Him, but also to suffer for Him, since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have. If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. (NIV)
Fulfillment is about bringing closure to what was initiated. It also means “to measure up, to satisfy.” How we define being fulfilled dictates what kind of life we will lead. Say I determine that I am my own captain, then my fulfillment is confined by what I can and cannot do. If I concede control of my life to others then my fulfillment is defined by the will of those in power. If I believe that God is the One leading me then my fulfillment rests in gripping firmly the rope of His will.
“Maximize the god within you!” Welcome to the arena of self-help teaching spun from the mouths of success gurus. The gist of their message runs something like:
Ø Do your best; overcome your fears for the key to success lies within you!
Ø Go after your dreams. Listen to your inner voice it will never fail you.
Ø Be sincere. Persevere and believe in yourself. You can be whatever you want to be!
Bruce Thielemann tells the story in Christus Imperator of a king long ago who organized a great race within his kingdom. All the young men in the land participated. A bag of gold was to be given to the winner, and the finish line was within the courtyard of the king's palace. During the race the runners were surprised to find in the middle of the road leading to the king's palace a great pile of rocks and stones. But they managed to scramble over it or to run around it and eventually to come to the courtyard.
1 Timothy 6:11,12--But you, man of God, run from these things, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight for the faith; take hold of eternal life that you were called to and have made a good confession about in the presence of many witnesses.