I genuinely believe that most people are successful, at least to some degree or by some definition of the word. But to win in every area simultaneously - career, marriage, parenting, nutrition, fitness, sleep, finances, friendship, integrity, enjoyment, fulfillment, community service, mental development ... (and I could go on) … - that’s a totally different ballgame!
Still, some people are even able to prosper in everything, for a time. Eventually though, the juggling act catches up with us, and whether we admit it or not, we know we aren’t thriving holistically to the extent that we could be. At that point, we’re right back where we started - winning only fractionally and temporarily.
While it may seem impossible to achieve sustainable success in every area of life, I’m convinced there’s a specific solution that not only makes it possible, but probable, and our entire pursuit of living richly hinges on it.
That said, before we can discover this solution, we need to accurately assess our problem. Why is this kind of success so elusive? What’s hindering us from reaching it?
Frankly, the reason we aren’t already accomplishing long-term, comprehensive success is simple: we can’t!
I’m not kidding. Our issue lies in the very nature of who we are. See, the unfortunate thing about being human is that we’re so stinking limited. Think about it:
When it comes to decision making, our perspective is incredibly narrow. We’re a part of only one generation, immersed in just one culture, and we’ve been alive for just a few years of our planet’s history. We truly only have a handful of experiences to draw from in light of the big picture. And while we can seek to broaden our horizons through traveling the world or reading about the past, we’re still left with little to no insight about what is yet to come.
Not only is our vantage point narrow, our lenses are also clouded - conflicts of interest, crooked motives, and short-term gratifications hinder our ability to see the long-term with clarity.
But let’s say that despite our limited, fogged-up perspective, we do in fact choose the right paths to walk down. We’re still a mess, because we don’t have the ability to walk down those paths! Our journey in self-improvement is like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole; we get one area of life under control only to see an issue pop up in another. And that’s when we’re at our best, not even taking into account our inevitable self-destructive behaviors. You know, those times when we find ourselves doing the very things we don’t want to do - whether it be something we’re ashamed of and try to hide, or something more socially acceptable like watching t.v. for hours on end, having too much to drink (or eat), splurging on a purchase with money we don’t have, cutting corners at work, or pulling away in our marriage or parenting.. The things you just don't feel great about when you go to sleep at night.
It’s a given that there will be something we’re not proud of, because at the end of the day, our characters are flawed. We simply don’t have the capacity to live perfectly in line with how we aspire to live, or to be exactly who we want to be. We can't even fully live up to or abide by our own standards and expectations. This is our problem...and it’s a big problem. But yes, there is a solution.
However, the tricky thing about finding a solution is that for it to actually work, it can’t depend on us. This is due to the fact that our problem is not an external one, but internal. As a result, if any prescription relies on something we have to continually do - or say - or think - or really anything to do with us whatsoever, we can guarantee that it's a broken record before we ever play it. Self-help is self-defeating because self is the very problem we’re dealing with!
This reality has brilliant people like Elon Musk thinking the answer is to turn humans into cyborgs. That makes less brilliant people like me chuckle, because honestly, it wouldn’t fix anything at all. Sure, we’d become more efficient, and thus more productive, but our rate of destruction would increase all along with it. Unless you want to entirely eliminate the human element of humanity, somehow deleting our minds, emotions, and will from existence, we will remain the partially flawed characters that we are. And I don’t know about you, but I like my consciousness.
The real solution, then, has to go deeper than that. We need a new character - one that isn’t flawed whatsoever. We need a mind and heart that is completely aligned, such that we have the capability to consistently do everything we want to do, and abstain from everything that we don’t want to do. And there’s only one way to get that.
As controversial or awkward as it may be, our solution is Jesus.
When we choose to follow Jesus, we become new creations - with new natures, new minds, and new hearts - totally free, and no longer flawed or bound to self-destructive behaviors. Not only that, we become like God Himself, filled with divine power and ever-increasing strength and glory. Woah! Following Jesus solves the problem of our limited vantage point as well, since God sees the whole picture (including the future), meaning His guidance is as sure as day.
What's even better is this transformation takes place immediately. When we hand the keys to our life over to Jesus, right away, we become a completely different kind of human. With our flaws and limitations out of the way, we are actually able to live perfectly in line with how we aspire to live, and to be exactly who we want to be. Certainly, just like Spiderman trying out his suit for the first time, it may take some practice for us to figure out how to live up to this potential, but we can rest assured knowing that we already have everything we need to live heroically.
It gets more awkward though, because not any power-source, spirituality, or religion will do. Jesus really is the only way.
All of those other roads detail out what you can do to get closer to God, but remember, any solution that’s based on ‘what you can do’ is no solution at all. It’s a band-aid that masks our deeper need - the very ability to do and be precisely what we say we will. On the other hand, Christianity is unique in that it describes what God does to get close with us. All we ‘do’ is receive it like a big birthday present, and in turn, He makes us at our very core a totally new breed of human, able to live enriched in every way for our whole lives long. See for yourself:
“For you have been enriched in every way ... because you received Jesus … And He will keep you strong to the end” (1 Corinthians 1:5-8). And again - “You will be enriched in every way” (2 Corinthians 9:11).
If we want to live the best life possible, it’s time to kiss the old life good-bye!
As offensive as I know this blog post will feel to some, I also know there are many of us who have tried a million and one other things, only to be let down. I know that for some of us, these words are not infuriating or wounding, but liberating and healing - a glimmer of hope and a ray of light for previously unsolved problems. If that's you, or even if you're on the fence about it and feel just a tad bit curious, I invite you to discover more with us.
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