• Scott Watkins

The Admiration Of The Crowd ≠ Success

What if sickness, old age or some other misfortune left you unable to do anything praiseworthy for the rest of your life? How would losing the admiration of everyone impact you?

It’s an interesting question to consider. It spotlights how much of the success we chase is really just pursuing others’ admiration. We don’t chase admiration consciously. We’re above that. Subconsciously though we seek it through the jobs we take, the way we introduce ourselves, the cars we drive, the neighborhood we live in or the school our kids attend.

John Starke writes about our culture adopting the belief that “signifiers of being okay are primarily visual and our identity and self-worth are metrics to be displayed.”

Yet, even as this cultural emphasis grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to gain the proper visual signals. The recession of 2008 and the 2020 pandemic among other things have left many unable to focus on little more than survival.

There is a growing tension between the need for these visual signals and the ability to acquire or maintain them. Today, the younger generation feels this most acutely being less established and more vulnerable, but this tension will visit us all, eventually.

When we feel safe and insulated, this illusion of success lulls us to inaction. But what we need is to mature beyond the need for admiration. Real success comes by growing spiritually.

We need to challenge the illusion and internalize the truth about success.

Success is not about visual displays. There was little visual evidence that Jesus’ ministry was a success during his lifetime on earth. Any objective observer of Jesus’ interaction with Pilate would have said Pilate was the more successful of the two, by a wide margin.

The truth is that success comes through good stewardship of what God has entrusted to us. Good stewardship results from using all you have and all you are to bring glory to God. And often, good stewardship is private, beyond the sight of men.