“Make Your Way Successful”—How?
“SUCCESS”—an eye-catching word! Some have climbed the corporate ladder and have achieved great success in getting rich and making a name for themselves. Others have dreamed of success but have met with utter failure.
To a large extent, success depends on what you make the focus of your life. Two other important factors are how you use your time and energy and whether you show initiative.
Many Christians have found that having a full share in the ministry has brought them great satisfaction. Having the full-time service as a career has helped young and old alike to be successful. Yet, some may feel that the ministry is somewhat boring and give it a secondary place in their lives as they pursue other goals. Why might this happen? What can you do to avoid losing sight of what is truly valuable? And how can you “make your way successful”?—Josh. 1:8.
Extracurricular Activities and Hobbies
Christian youths need to maintain the proper balance between serving the true God and participating in other activities. Those who do so are heading for success in life and deserve warm commendation.
Some young Christians, though, become heavily involved in extracurricular activities and hobbies. Such activities may not in themselves be objectionable. However, young Christians should ask themselves: ‘How much of my time might those activities demand? What about associations? What kind of spirit am I exposed to when engaging in those activities? And what might become the focus of my life?’ You likely realize that one could become so obsessed with such activities that little time or energy would be left for maintaining a relationship with God. You can see, then, why setting priorities is important.—Eph. 5:15-17.
Consider the case of Wiktor.* He relates: “When I was 12, I joined a volleyball club. In time, I won many prizes and awards. I had an opportunity to become a star.” In time, Wiktor became disturbed about the effect that his pursuit of the sport was having on his spirituality. One day, he fell asleep while trying to read the Bible. Also, he recognized that he derived little joy from the field ministry. “The sport robbed me of my energy, and soon I realized that it was also robbing me of my spiritual zeal. I knew I was not doing all that I could.”
A Christian has a Scriptural obligation to care for his family, and that includes providing for their material needs. (1 Tim. 5:8) Still, does this really require a college or a university degree?
It would be good to consider what effect pursuing higher education could have on one’s relationship with Jehovah. Let us illustrate this by considering a Scriptural example.
Baruch was the secretary to the prophet Jeremiah. At one point, rather than focusing on the privileges he had in serving Jehovah, Baruch became ambitious. Jehovah noticed this and through Jeremiah warned him: “You keep seeking great things for yourself. Do not keep on seeking.”—Jer. 45:5.
What were the “great things” that Baruch kept seeking? He may have been tempted to make a name for himself in the Jewish system of things. Or the great things could have been material prosperity. In any case, he had lost sight of the more important things, those having spiritual value. (Phil. 1:10) Yet, Baruch obviously listened to Jehovah’s warning through Jeremiah and thus gained his soul as a spoil.—Jer. 43:6.
What can we draw from this account? The counsel Baruch received indicates that something was amiss. He was seeking great things for himself. If you have a means of supporting yourself, do you really need to spend time, money, and effort on further education just to realize personal aspirations or those of your parents or other relatives?
Consider Grzegorz, a computer programmer. Persuaded by his colleagues, he took up an intensive course of additional specialized training. Soon he had no time left for spiritual pursuits. He recalls: “I constantly felt on edge. My conscience troubled me because I could not reach the spiritual goals I had set for myself.”
Engrossed in One’s Employment
God’s Word encourages true Christians to be hardworking and to be responsible employees and employers. The apostle Paul wrote: “Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men.” (Col. 3:22, 23) However, while hard work is commendable, something more is needed—a good relationship with our Creator. (Eccl. 12:13) If a Christian became engrossed in his secular work, spiritual pursuits could easily be pushed into second place.
Becoming absorbed in a secular job can rob a Christian of the energy needed to maintain his own spiritual balance and to assist his family. King Solomon observed that “a double handful of hard work” is often accompanied by “striving after the wind.” If a Christian is overly involved in a secular career, he can end up having prolonged, severe stress. Such a person can even become enslaved to a career to the extent of experiencing burnout. If so, can he really “rejoice . . . and see good for all his hard work”? (Eccl. 3:12, 13; 4:6) More important, would he have enough physical and emotional strength left to carry out his duties in the family and to engage in spiritual activities?
Janusz, who lives in Eastern Europe, became engrossed in his gardening business. He recalls: “Worldly people admired me because I was full of initiative and was able to complete each assigned task. But my spirituality suffered, and I stopped sharing in the field ministry. Soon I stopped attending meetings. I became so proud that I dismissed the counsel from the elders and drew away from the congregation.”
You Can Make Your Life a Success
We have considered three areas in which a Christian might become very involved at the cost of his spirituality. Are you involved in any of these? If so, the following questions, scriptures, and comments may help you to determine whether you are really on the way to success.
Extracurricular activities and hobbies: How absorbed are you in such activities? Are these consuming time that you previously devoted to spiritual pursuits? Do you find association with your fellow believers to be less appealing? If so, why not imitate King David, who implored Jehovah: “Make known to me the way in which I should walk.”—Ps. 143:8.
A traveling overseer helped Wiktor, mentioned earlier. The overseer commented to him: “You speak passionately about your career in volleyball.” “That shook me up,” says Wiktor. “I realized that I had gone too far. Soon, I broke off association with worldly friends at the club and sought out friends in the congregation.” Today, Wiktor is serving Jehovah zealously in his congregation. He recommends: “Ask your friends, your parents, or the congregation elders if they have observed whether your school activities draw you closer to Jehovah or away from him.”
Why not indicate to the elders in your congregation that you would like to reach out for more privileges in serving God? Could you support the elderly who are in need of company or assistance, perhaps helping with their shopping or tasks in their home? Regardless of your age, you might be able to engage in the full-time ministry, sharing with others the basis for your joy.
Higher education: Jesus warned against ‘seeking your own glory.’ (John 7:18) Whatever you decide as to how much secular education you will obtain, have you ‘made sure of the more important things’?—Phil. 1:9, 10.
Grzegorz, the computer programmer, made some changes in his life. He said: “Taking seriously the advice of the elders, I simplified my life. I realized that I did not need to further my secular education. That would only rob me of time and energy.” Grzegorz got more involved in congregation activities. In time, he graduated from what is now called the Bible School for Single Brothers. Yes, he ‘bought out the time’ to further his divine education.—Eph. 5:16.
Secular employment: Have you become so absorbed in your work that spiritual interests are being pushed aside? Do you take enough time to communicate with your family? And in the congregation, are you improving the quality of your talk assignments? How about engaging in upbuilding conversation with others? “Fear the true God and keep his commandments,” and you will receive Jehovah’s rich blessing and ‘see good because of your hard work.’—Eccl. 2:24; 12:13.
Janusz, mentioned earlier, did not achieve great success in his gardening business; rather, he met with failure. With no income and deeply in debt, he turned to Jehovah. Janusz put his affairs in order and now serves as a regular pioneer and a congregation elder. He says: “When I am satisfied with the basics and at the same time give of myself spiritually, I have peace of mind and a calm heart.”—Phil. 4:6, 7.
Take some time to make an honest appraisal of your motives and priorities. Serving Jehovah is a course to lifelong success. Make it the center of your life.
You may have to make some adjustments, even eliminating unnecessary things in order to prove to yourself “the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” (Rom. 12:2) But you can “make your way successful” by serving him whole-souled.
Some names have been changed.
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How Can You Make Your Way Successful?
With so many things vying for your attention, how can you avoid losing sight of what is truly valuable? Take some time to examine your motives and priorities by reflecting on the following questions:
EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITIES AND HOBBIES
▪ What kinds of attitudes are you exposed to when you engage in those activities?
▪ How much time do these demand?
▪ Could these become the focus of your life?
▪ Are these consuming time you previously devoted to spiritual pursuits?
▪ What about associations?
▪ Do you find these associates more appealing than fellow believers?
▪ If you have a means of supporting yourself, do you really need to spend time, money, and effort on further education?
▪ To support yourself, is it really necessary to have a college or a university degree?
▪ What would be the effect on your meeting attendance?
▪ Have you ‘made sure of the more important things’?
▪ Do you need to strengthen your confidence in Jehovah’s ability to provide for you?
▪ Does your choice allow you to ‘rejoice and see good for all your hard work’?
▪ Do you have enough physical and emotional strength left to carry out your duties in the family and to engage in spiritual activities?
▪ Do you take enough time to communicate with your family?
▪ Have you become so absorbed in work that spiritual matters are being pushed aside?
▪ Has it affected the quality of your talk assignments?
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Jehovah warned Baruch about ambition