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Post  ilovejesus on Thu 05 Mar 2009, 3:16 pm

God says success belongs to his steward clothed in faithfulness.
By Erik Segalini

Thousands of fans in Camden Yards baseball stadium stood to their feet September 6, 1995, to honor one man. With unprecedented fervor, sports fans spontaneously stood for a 20-minute cheer, stopping the game to salute a Baltimore Orioles shortstop.

The fans celebrated Cal Ripken Jr.'s success. But why? His statistics were not exceptional: Five other Orioles held higher batting averages that year; three hit more home runs. The crowds cheered Cal because he set the new record for most consecutive games played: 2,131. His faithfulness earned their applause.

While 45,000-plus fans in the sold-out crowd unanimously labeled Cal a success at his job, they would probably not agree on a definition for the word. "Competition has been raised to a national obsession and career 'success' to an almost mandatory personal priority," write authors Stan J. Katz and Aimee E. Liu in their book Success Trap. "Yet for all our ambition, few among us ever stop to develop a personal and meaningful definition of success."

God however, has defined success, and Ripken's fans rightfully associated faithfulness with it. God says true success in the workplace is not gaining riches or prestige, but rather faithfully serving wherever He places us, doing the best job we can.

Joseph modeled this kind of work ethic. On two occasions, Genesis names the young Hebrew as successful, once as a slave (Genesis 39:3,4 New International Version) and once again while in prison (Genesis 39:23, NIV). As Potiphar's slave, Joseph earned his master's trust over everything he owned. When Joseph unjustly landed in prison, the warden appointed him to oversee the other prisoners.

By the world's quantitative definition of success, measured by wealth and prestige, a slave or prisoner could rarely be called successful. God's qualitative definition of workplace success, on the other hand, opens it to anyone¬even Joseph, serving in the most humble of jobs.

In his faithfulness to God, Joseph produced quality work, earning favor with his employers. "We should consider the untapped potential beneath our exterior as if God Himself would be conducting our next annual performance review," writes Dianna Booher in First Thing Monday Morning. Our motivation to do our best for God cannot earn approval from Him¬Christ earned that for us on the Cross¬but our best effort done faithfully to His name does bring Him honor.

My mother, a full-time homemaker, brings God honor in her job through her faithfulness to Him. Whether standing at the ironing board in the basement or pulling the vacuum cleaner through her two-story house, Mamma is usually singing a praise song to Jesus.

I once complained to my mom about doing something I didn't want to do. She pointed out that mopping floors and folding laundry wasn't always fun, either. "But I do it all unto the Lord," she said, her smile meeting her eyes. "God has called me to serve Him in the family He has given me. His joy becomes my strength."

By remaining faithful to the work God gave her, my mother experiences God's joy and demonstrates workplace success. She models Colossians 3:17: "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."

Sometimes the job we're given does not maximize our God-given talents. Joseph, for example, eventually ruled over Egypt, but not before serving as a slave and a prisoner. Though he longed for change, Joseph prioritized his service to God above his own desires. "True success," writes Patrick Morley in The Seven Seasons of a Man's Life, "is to satisfy your calling, not your ambition."

Daily, we respond to God's call; yesterday's decisions no longer count. As we dress for work each day, we can also choose to "put on" an attitude of giving our best efforts to our jobs. Success, then, is a lifelong marathon we run, not a finish line we cross.

Just like a real marathon, the fans waiting at the finish line often outnumber those cheering the runners along the road. Similarly, no one may applaud your efforts to pursue God's definition of success. We must turn our attention to the audience of God, not to the audience of man.

This doesn't mean that a successful person, by God's standards, cannot appear prosperous. Joseph walked a path from prison to power, eventually rising second in command only to Pharaoh. But Joseph's recognition, authority and power were all byproducts of his success, not proof of it. God already proved that in Joseph's life in the prison cell, and He wants to rpove it in your life today too.

Like the servant in Jesus' parable, the master wants to greet you, saying, "Well done, good and faithful servant! . . . Come and share your master's happiness!" (Matthew 25:21, NIV). Clothe yourself in faithfulness today, and add your name to God's list of success stories.

God speaks freely in His Word about His idea of success.
"Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful" (Joshua 1:7,8, NIV).
Are you meeting regularly with God and being careful not to turn aside from His law? If not, begin today by meditating on and reading one chapter a day from Proverbs. Listen to God's wisdom and values.

List several standards of success by which those in your occupation are measured. Then list God's measures of success. When looking at both, which list comes closer to describing you?

Read the parable in Matthew 25:14-30 about the wealthy man who entrusts his possessions to three slaves. The first servant immediately started trading the money, eventually doubling the master's investment. The second doubled his portion as well. The third servant, however, neglected his responsibility, content to just get by. In terms of the workplace and the specific gifts and abilities God gave you, which slave in the parable best represents you?

What is one practical, achievable step you can take to move closer toward godly success in the workplace?

* Some ideas have been taken from How to Succeed Where It Really Counts, by Doug Sherman and William Hendricks, NavPress, 1989.

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