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The Pressure Of Success

The Pressure Of Success

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)

You know what the world needs? People who are willing to become absolutely nothing. Now, I’m not specifically referencing that we need more middle-aged fast-food joint employees or more high school dropouts aspiring to own a garbage dump someday. What I mean is, why aren’t more people willing to be unsuccessful? Why do we cave in to the pressure of success?

Here I am, four months after graduation looking for my first “real” job, and honestly, I don’t know if I really want to go the conventional route. I don’t know if I want to do what everyone expects me to do. Let me give you some background.

I am the kid that everyone has always expected big things from—or at least that’s what I thought people expected. In my senior year of high school I got a 29 on my ACT and my history teacher looked at me and said, “Oh, I would have thought you could do better.” In fact, the principal of my school encouraged me to take it again because he thought I could get something in the 30s.

And for the longest time, I’ve made that expectation my own. When I graduated this past spring with a magna cum laude, a tiny voice inside of me whispered, If only you would have worked hard enough, you could have done better.

This has been my mantra for as long as I can remember. But, I finally decided that I’m sick of it. I don’t really want to be successful in the conventional sense. I don’t even think God is calling me to make climbing the corporate ladder my life goal. As I’ve honestly thought about what I could do if I could do absolutely anything with my life, it has far less to do with success the way my history teacher defined it. I would rather devote more time to serving people through volunteering and writing about things that really means something in life. But, despite my desire to live a no-frills life of service and meaning, a little nagging voice inside of me is begging me to be reasonable. After all, I have a daunting school debt to pay off and a car that’s pushing 200,000 miles. Shouldn’t I be concerned with salary and benefits and using my wonderful Bachelor of Arts degree?

The thing is: I know what I’m capable of. But If I did choose the “road to success,” I think I would always have an irksome feeling that God demanded more—not more in the way of paychecks or positions, but more in the way of complete and utter submission, more in the way of truly living with His kingdom in mind, more in the way of reliance on Him.

Still, there is that mental voice telling me to keep on living my life the way I’ve always lived—to meet the expectations of myself and others, deeper inside me still, is a quiet, stronger voice beckoning me to direct my drive and ambition in a different type of life. “Let me give you the strength to be all I demand of you,” said the Voice. “Quit believing in other people’s dreams for your life. Let go of all you think you can do, and let me show you what I think you can do.”

And the more I’ve contemplated the two paths, the more I’m convinced that being successful by the way of the world is far too easy. I don’t think God only wants hotshot journalists or big-time music artists or powerful business executives “on his side.” God wants people who are willing to be daring enough to be all that He asks of them no matter where they live or what they’re getting paid to do. Which leads me to a conclusion: I want to walk the harder path. I want a life of adventure led by the best safari guide there ever could be. I want to be guided along the backcountry roads instead of taking the freeway. Though, I think I will always live in the tension, I choose not to care if I’m successful anymore.

Dig Deeper:

Matthew 6:19-21

Proverbs 28:19


Father, I place my trust in You alone. Lead me down whatever path you desire for me. Show me how to be satisfied with all that you give me. 

RELEVANT’s “Deeper Walk” daily devotionals are presented by the LUMO Project, a visual translation of the four Gospels developed to engage people with scripture in a new way. You can watch the videos—which redefine the standard of visual biblical media—on YouTube, and find out more about LUMO’s mission at their website.

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