This is the guest post I promised by author Carrye Burr. Her new book is How to Be a Moon: Embrace Your Worth. Reflect God. Light Up Your Generation. You can read my book review here and purchase the book on Amazon here.
What can the moon teach us about success?
The world refers to success as one’s arrival at status, wealth, power, or prestige. It measures success by accolades, accomplishments, ability and authority.
When we feel like shrugging off the larger culture’s definition, we declare that success should be defined by the individual: “What does success mean to you?” We decide for ourselves what would make us feel satisfied, significant, or sufficient.
The world might say that I’ve truly become successful as a writer if I end up on the New York Times Bestseller List, but a personal goal might be selling 1,000 books. As a mother, the world may suggest I’m successful if I produce honor roll kids that don’t throw tantrums in public, but a personal success marker might be to find a healthy meal that all of my kids will eat.
Ultimately, success is a vague bar to measure the value of my life and endeavors. The bar is always changing, and I find myself striving and never quite arriving at ultimate worth. Maybe you’ve experienced your own emptiness in trying to seek success in the roles and to-do lists of your own life.
Whether we’re using the tape measure of the world or our own personal ruler, God has an entirely different way to gauge our lives, outside of productivity and performance.
If we want joyful, purposeful lives, I believe the moon gives us two lessons about God’s version of success.
First, success isn’t measured by what we do, but Who we reflect. The moon is only as bright as the sun it reflects; likewise, there is no greater mission in our lives than to intimately know our Light Source, Jesus.
Our goal isn’t to accomplish and influence more, but to rest in the presence of the Maker who gives us our worth and gifts for His purposes.
The second thing the moon teaches is that our goal is really not to be successful but surrendered. The moon shines brightly not by striving, but by resting as a reflector. To live like a moon, then, is to die to ourselves and allow the far greater light of God (our Sun) to shine off of us.
In Luke 9:23-25, Jesus puts it this way: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?”
I’m not confident that God would even use the word “success.” If He did, His version wouldn’t include climbing up, accumulating more, or achieving greater goals. Over and over we find Jesus using counter-cultural language to describe a full life: Lose your life. Be last. Deny yourself. Be a servant.
Jesus never sought to gain authority in a physical kingdom, win a popularity contest, or leverage His speaking opportunities to get wealthy. His greatest promotion was straight to the cross. And He asks us to die to ourselves too.
Only in Christ do we find that we have more joy, purpose, and hope by seeking less. Our surrender is actually accomplishing more than our strengths and gifts could on their own. There is no greater goal than becoming like Jesus and allowing Him to reflect His light and love to a broken world around us.
How are you tempted to define success or worth in your own life? Are you so caught up in your to-do list or goals that you’ve neglected to make time to rest in the presence of Jesus? This is a daily struggle for me, but I know it’s worth the battle. Join the conversation and share how you keep your eyes focused on Jesus and His definition of what matters!
by Carrye Burr
You can read more from Carrye on her website Less to Be More.