Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 103; 150, Numbers 6:22-27, Acts 13:1-12, Luke 12:41-48
“Fear of success” doesn’t sound like something that should happen, but it’s a common psychological challenge. Success represents change, and there are numerous reasons we consciously and subconsciously fear change. In many ways failure can be less fearful because it means remaining in familiar territory.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus touches on what it means to succeed: “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”
Does that kindle a little fear in your heart?
When we do well personally and professionally, we say we have been blessed. While that’s true, we also need to realize we have been burdened. Though it’s cliched, we need to ask ourselves whether we are paying it forward. The motto of the National Association of Black Accountants (NABA) is: “Lifting as We Climb.” This organization focuses its efforts on a specific community and profession, but it embodies the responsibilities that come with success.
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a wealth of money, time, or talent, but we must not get caught in the trap of thinking what we have earned is what we deserve. No matter how much success we earn, we fall short of “deserving” God’s love and mercy, yet God gives them to us freely. If Christ is our example, and he gave up his life for the salvation of our undeserving souls, how can we claim the right to hold on to anything we’ve earned? How can we look down on those who have not “earned” what we hold but they need?
Personal accountability is not something we impose on strangers (though we should expect and encourage it), but a standard to which we hold ourselves. It’s not measured by what we’ve socked away for retirement, but by how proportionately we’ve used what’s been given and entrusted to us to meet the requirements and demands of faithful service.
Success means change. If that change happens, and much is demanded of us, will we be more afraid of being broke or being broken?
Comfort: How you account for your generosity is between you and God.
Challenge: “Responsibility” can become an excuse for mean-spiritedness. When you are deciding whether to give time, money, or talent to those in need, consider what it says about your character as least as much as you consider theirs.
Prayer: God of mercy, teach me to use my gifts wisely and generously.
Discussion: How do you arrive at a balance between generosity and practicality? How concerned do you think Jesus is with the practical?
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