Today I was reading an article by Chris Cilliza on CNN and was struck by the quote below
“2. “I’ve always had controversy in my life and I’ve always succeeded. I’ve always won. I’ve always won.”
Two notes here: a) he’s right — his entire life has been controversial and b) he only sees things through the lens of winning or losing. There is no other measure of success or failure. If you win, you were right.”
Trump truly does seem to see things through the lens of winning or losing. If one wins, they succeed. With his nicknames demeaning others during the election and his constant attacks on other people, it seems obvious that he believes that in order to stay on top, he needs to step on others. And it’s worked – it’s working. We as a society have turned so much of life into a zero sum game where one person’s win means another’s loss.
Billboards for local colleges show pictures of smiling students with the words “Creating the next CEO” sprawled across. Seems harmless enough, right? But what about our sons and daughters who are destined to clean toilets, pick up garbage, be office workers, be aides? Why do we see CEO as a more worthy goal than office worker? Why do we set the bar so high for our kids? There’s only one CEO in an organization but that organization can’t function without lots of other important, essential, capable, and worthy people. When we emphasize some jobs over others, we are devaluing people who don’t meet our arbitrary standards. It sounds great to tell our kids to reach for the stars. But what stars do we mean? What are we using measure success?
As a follower of Jesus, it saddens me to see these same patterns in the church. The emphasis Jesus placed on character and heart over success is so obvious in the narratives of the New Testament. Yet somehow, we’ve fallen for society’s false narrative that success by society’s standards means God is pleased with us, while loss by society standards means He is not.
But Jesus proposes an upside kingdom in which the first will be last and the last will be first. This isn’t a mathematical formula which says if you have success in this world, you will have loss in the kingdom and vice versa. Instead, it’s more like a warning that we’ve got our formulas wrong. We need to be using God’s measures of success and not ours.
God calls us to be salt and light in the world. I long for the world to see the fruit of God’s spirit in us as the church so that may see God though us. Let’s stay connected to God so that we may be a picture of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control in a world focused on winning and losing.