Sunday, February 16, 2014

An Open Letter to The Stewart-Houston Times about Success

"Trinitarian Christ"
(inks on page from The Holy Bible / 2007)
I grew up in a very small town here in Tennessee.  The majority of my extended family still resides on property which was once a family farm and lies on the county line separating Stewart and Houston Counties.  This area is so rural in fact, the entirety of both counties have one weekly paper to provide residents with their local news.

Recently, my hometown newspaper ran a column which has lingered in my mind the past few days- “Making Our Life Successful in God’s Eyes.”  I’ve found growing up with a devoutly faithful family and community that folks are quick to thank the Good Lord for their successes.  Likewise, they are just as quick to dismiss their failures and shortcomings as God’s Will.  The more my mind mills over the obtuse message of this article, I’ve found myself compelled to respond here on my site.

In her article, Loretta Threatt states, “We live in a culture which is very success-minded; but it is this very culture which is so wrong-headed that it measures success only in terms of a person’s career, education, financial status, skill, achievement, possessions, etc.  And we breathe the cultural air that honors and rewards those who chase one of these.”  The author goes on to say, “I believe the reason some people fail to succeed is their lack of God’s grace. No person can achieve success in these areas apart from the gift of Christ’s righteousness!”

Without evil, good cannot exist in the world.  Without losers, there can be no winners.  Without failure and shortcomings, there can be no successes.  Success is not something which can be reflected in terms of faith.  The “wrong-headed” social measurements Ms. Threatt mentions are the very foundations of the definition of success.  Much of Christian thinking is what one could call “blind faith” and takes self-determination out of the equation.  Success comes from hard work, aspiration, education and commitment- not from prayer and faith alone.

By linking success to Christian faith, the author assumes failure to succeed is inherently linked to being in the grace of her own Lord and Savior.  This rationale also implies anyone of a different faith than Christianity or anyone lacking faith altogether be it Agnostic or Atheist will not experience her true definition of success.  It is dangerous to foster a culture where everyone succeeds with God’s blessing, where everyone gets a trophy just for playing and there are no winners or losers in His eyes.  This is an example of how faith can shelter and ever worse disconnect people from reality.

Successfulness and contentment are two completely different life equations.  Some find contentment in faith, some in family, some in love and some in money.  Life can still be lived in content, faith and happiness without success being a factor.  However, success is found in achievement whether it be educational, artistic, athletic, financial or professional and is in no way based on indoctrinated belief systems.  Sure, faith can stimulate one’s ambition (but so can a good cup of coffee.)  Success begins within YOU and by pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and visualizing what you want out of your life.  You can be who you want to be and achieve what your heart desires (with or without the help of someone else's God.)

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