Lately, I find that I am even more aware of the drive for success in our society. I was listening to the radio and the following lyrics came through my speakers: “I want the money, money and the cars, cars and the clothes. I just want to be successful. Just enough to solve your problems, too much will kill ya.” Music is just one place that the perception of success is laced into the crevices our subconscious. Television shows no longer promote the ideology of the past that hard work is the key to success. Instead, fame can be a result of who you have had a relationship with or how much drama you’ve inflicted on others. Talent is a by-product and in our society, is not crucial.
For many, this phenomenon is new. It is a sign of the demise of a culture. The reality is that for many of the voiceless and powerless, being diligent, dedicated and committed was not emphasized and the reward for this behavior was minimal. The process of obtaining “stuff” was not as glamorous as much as the proof of the wealth and items gained. I have had young people tell me that they can make more money in the entertainment industry or in the streets than spending so much time going to school and working so hard for a degree. There are more visible characters that have done it the questionable way in our society who receive notoriety than those who are loyal, driven, and faithful.
We have become a society that has a need for speed. We want immediate gratification and fulfillment. In the age of Starbucks where you can have more than one type of coffee, our expectation is that we can get it and get it now. Things have changed and although we have made so many advances, we have also left some needed things behind on our road to progress and change.
By no means am I suggesting that we all take a vow of poverty. I enjoy things in life that my parents and ancestors did not have the opportunity to experience. I also realize that balance is essential. As I develop my financial portfolio, I must also develop my spiritual one as well.
Success is more than having a big house, the bad ride (car for my older peeps (people)), designer clothes or a beauty on my arm. Success is defined by not what you have obtained. None of those things can be taken with you when you die. Money cannot solve your problems and without character, it is difficult to keep it. Success to me is about taking care of your children no matter what and not creating children who yearn for love and attention. We have confused sacrifice and used our children as pawns for our desire to be important. Success is building a legacy for those generations behind us that will give them a foundation of hope instead of one of harm. Success is making the world a little better merely because of our existence. Success is using those God given gifts to improve those in our circle of influence. Success is understanding that the world does not center on you and that you have been blessed not because of who you are but because of WHOSE you are….that you are a part of something greater. Our lives are connected and when you are not well, I am impacted.
My desire is not to become like the generations before me who dismissed the energy and innovation of the youth. There is something to be learned and gained from those who are younger. I chose not be a part of the “us versus them” mentality. All of us play a role in our culture and even if we cannot directly point to how we made this happen, we can be proactive in our actions and response to making a change to redefine what success is and should look like.
My definition of success embodies a number of things involving my family, my friends and my world. Yet, all of those things are just components of what I really want. Ultimately, I desire to hear God say “Servant Well Done.” I hope that what we all are seeking is more than earthly and results in a positive eternal outcome.