It was career day at Roosevelt Elementary School and every classroom was bursting with excitement. The students took turns sharing with their peers the future plans they secretly harbored behind their bright eyes that sparkled with hope, each spoken ambition greater than the one before it. At last it was little Johnny's turn. "And what do you want to be when you grow up, Johnny?" the kind teacher asked. "Oh," replied Johnny, "I want to be a detriment to society, not apply myself, and hate the life choices I make."
Needless to say, no child (or adult for that matter) esteems to goals like that for their future. Also needless to say is that since becoming a recent high school graduate, I've spent countless hours considering what makes a life worthwhile, what makes a life successful.
Before this year I'd never realized just how many definitions of success there truly are. On the one hand you have the big-shot corporate worker. He lives in an exciting, fast-paced city, makes lots of money, gets to see the world, and is excited about his job. Is this a successful life? But on the other hand you have the guy that's still living in his hometown, is married, adores his family, but is barely making ends meet. Is this a successful life? And over here is the small business owner who left town, came back, and is just opening up a shop of his very own. It's always been his dream but his hard work gives him no time for friends. Would this be a successful life?
It's ironic how in the midst of a world that tries so hard to produce the ideal "successful life," Jesus doesn't mention the word success once in the New Testament. If one thinks about it, Christ could have focused his ministry however he liked. But rather than sharing tips on how to get the most success out of life, he came to demonstrate what a fulfilling life is. He says in John 10:10b, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." Not only that but he goes on to say two chapters later in John 12:25 that "The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." Jesus loved the unlovable, served his friends, did the work his Father assigned him, and above all, reconciled man's relationship with God. This is what we have been called to do as well. As Christians, we have every cause to live lives that are overflowing with joy. We live with purpose, we live with meaning. And this is something that no earthly circumstance can take away.
Alyssa Tonneson graduated from Our Redeemer's Christian School, Minot, in May.