It is hard to escape.
Whether you are a TV watcher, a moviegoer, or an internet reader…the world promotes…relishes in…”visible accomplishments” as the measure of success.
Winning the Super Bowl.
Winning a PGA tournament.
Winning an Oscar or Grammy.
Climbing Mount Everest.
Making a million dollars.
Earning a Pin.
Earning an MBA…etc….
All “visible” accomplishments. We applaud and celebrate a baby’s smile, first steps or first words…all “visible”. It starts very young and often it is the pattern we knowingly or unknowingly allow to direct our life. It defines our life. It directs our pursuit of “visible” accomplishments.
I drank from this well way too often…and even led our kids to drink from the same well. Around 6 years ago…through a realization of the “wrong totem pole” of my daily life’s attention…I came to another realization…God’s intended totem pole looks different. I will never forget that “daunting moment of realization”…when the person who was unemotionally attached said to me…”Your totem pole looks to be 80% accurate…but that 20% that is off….leads only to one place…”darkness.” Spiritual darkness that leads to an empty life and the pursuit of wrong things.”
The 20% that was wrong was that I thought God was at the top but He was actually second. I will never forget the words impressed upon me as I left the counselor’s office…”If God is second in your life…. He may as well be last!” The second major thing that contributed to the 20% off (wrong) on my totem pole of life…was that I was not on the totem pole at all…yet it was my life we were talking about!
Through some hours of counseling and scripture reading and homework–which required a lot of time and prayer and self-reflection–I came to realize some very important things. In fact, I deem them to be RADICALLY IMPORTANT to living and leading an abundant life.
First….God has to be first. Often times the one thing we put before God is the humans we love the most–family: spouse, kids. God must be first. What needs to be second on this “totem pole of life”? OURSELVES. Why? Because if you have anything or anyone second behind God, it blocks your direct communication with God.
Children/spouse/job, if anything else is second, it separates you from hearing from God directly. And if you know God, you know whether or not you are second on the totem pole. He is never going to tell you to do something that is sinful or that harms your family or that goes against His word. God is God. His will and His word are perfect. Too often, and I did this myself, we buy into the concept of JOY: Jesus…Others…You. Don’t take the bait. Don’t buy that concept. It leads to spiritual darkness and blocks the voice of God in your life. It puts your eyes on man who is imperfect and sinful…who is NOT YOUR creator…who is NOT God and it is not God’s BEST “Yes” for your life.
Scripture is clear. Nothing comes before God. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). Scripture also teaches us to love your neighbor as yourself (see Matthew 19:19). But in order to fulfill this scripture, you can’t love your neighbor if you don’t love yourself. Part of loving yourself is being second on your life “totem pole,” allowing that direct contact with God. It is being directly connected to the “VINE” that makes all other things in life flow………..
What does your totem pole look like?
Can you be honest with yourself? Or maybe you need to invite an unemotional person who loves Jesus into your life to speak the TRUTH? Success in life is not the visible accomplishments that we so often see celebrated.
Today, for me, it looks so much different. Visible accomplishments are great. Not knocking them but the ones that bring joy, lifelong abundance and that multiply the “fruits of the spirit” are much harder to spot and certainly aren’t celebrated enough publicly: integrity, effort, compassion, generosity, humility, and trustworthiness. They are out there for sure, but they receive far less public attention. They are noticed privately by some, publicly celebrated by few.
What is rewarded by people…often…is what we are tempted to pursue. Don’t drink that “Kool-Aid”. Seek to please God…for that direct…uninterrupted communication. HE will lead you to “good works” which He created in advance for you to do. He and He alone will show you personally. HE will deal with you intimately and direct you. Don’t let the world dictate your life.
I’m not advocating shucking your responsibility. God would never tell you to do that….but HIS ways are BEST. They may not make human sense at times and understand, that is perfectly ok. “His thoughts aren’t our thoughts nor his ways our ways” (see Isaiah 55:8-9). When we trust, even when it doesn’t make sense, that is where “abundant life begins”.