Changing our Definition of Success

Have you ever heard the paradoxical statement, “The only thing that never changes is change itself”? It seems that as soon as we get used to something, it changes in one way or another. A job, a favorite menu item, politically-correct terms, hairstyles, cell phone plans… you name it! How we respond to change says a lot about our character and maturity.

The following passage is from Acts 8:4-8, 26-27 and includes an element of change that might be hard to see:

Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Christthere. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the miraculous signs he did, they all paid close attention to what he said. With shrieks, evil spirits came out of many, and many paralytics and cripples were healed. So there was great joy in that city.

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road – the desert road – that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch…

Philip was experiencing a wonderful and successful ministry in Samaria. He was preaching powerfully, healing miraculously, casting out demons and there was great joy among the people. Then God does something kind of confusing… he sent an angel to tell Philip to stop, to leave, to go south, to go toward Gaza and meet up with some guy.

We’re not used to this kind of change are we? What if Von Miller up and left the Broncos to go into the music business? What if Jeff Bezos just left Amazon and decided to clean bathrooms? What if the network cancelled American Idol in order to show more community service television? We would be up in arms, wouldn’t we? Why would anyone interrupt anything wildly successful for something that isn’t as high profile or financially lucrative?

God does that kind of thing all the time because he wants to shake up our definitions of success. How do you define success? Is it wealth, popularity, awards, or power? In God’s economy success is being available to Him, even if that means we need to make a change. No matter what the circumstances, each of us needs to be able to say, “Here I am Lord… Send me.”

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