By trying so hard to acquire more and reach higher goals—because enough is never enough—we must always increase production by getting more.
In this process we have forgotten the true value of what we already have—and are.
For many years I struggled for “success” in ministry. Annual seminars were given to ministers on how to grow and develop their churches.
A minister’s chief aim was to be successful, which was largely measured by the size of the congregation and church facility.
This caused a great struggle within me. I tried to conform to these outer standards and measurements, but deep down I knew this was not the message that Jesus taught.
Both voices vied to be heard inside me.
It would be wonderful to have a “successful” church as well as live the spiritual values that had called me into ministry in the first place—but each voice went a different direction.
As Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. Matt. 6:24
So what were my priorities? Worldly success—or sharing the Spiritual Essence of the great wisdom teachings, letting go of the outcome of these teachings, and letting that be enough?
Stephen Covey’s comment says it perfectly. You climb the ladder of success, rung by rung, and then you discover that it is leaning against the wrong building.
It is at these frustrating times that we may realize we have settled for worldly success, and wound up feeling empty.
We followed the well-meaning advice of others rather than following the direction of our heart.
We are daily bombarded by all the glittering advertising of the world, claiming we can have the good life if we buy the right things, drive the right cars and look successful.
All the time we are hearing that we are not enough just the way we are. The beauty of our own soul is not to be trusted. We must follow the guidelines of those who are in the know.
How often we settle for the lessor and ignore the greater.
Spiritual growth can’t be measured or put on a graph. The increase can’t be charted. But goals are easy to measure, which is very gratifying to the ego.
Spiritual growth is trusting what we can’t see. It continually calls to us from the deepest place in our hearts, and leads us out of our comfort zones again and again.
We grope. We pray. We listen for guidance. We ask, “Is this the right path?”
“What the soul calls spiritual growth the ego calls one insult after another,” as Lama Trungpa Rinpoche said.
Who wants to hear that?
So we often settle for the comfort of the known, the tried and true, rather than living in the unknown and uncharted territory, which leads us into fulfillment and happiness.
How often have I felt exhausted and forsaken by life, crumpled up and told myself it isn’t worth it. It’s just too hard. Too impossible of a journey. I simply don’t know the way so I’ll just give up and stop trying.
But there is something within that won’t let me stay down. The next morning I rise up and begin again. A little voice says, “Just do your practice. That’s enough. Stop expecting more! Who do you think you are anyway? Are the clouds supposed to part and angels sing a few chorus’s of Alleluia?”
After admitting I wouldn’t mind that, I get up, brush my teeth and begin my daily sitting.
Yes, it’s back to the meditation chair, my studies and my journal.
I once again practice love by speaking kindly and gently to my inner child, offering support by reminding her that I’m there for her. I listen to her disappointment and sadness. I care.
I hold her and tell her of course she feels this way. Causes and conditions have programmed her to experience this. She has always done the best she knew how to do. She can only give as much love as she has received.
Then I hold her and love her so that she feels and receives this love.
I take time so that she can feel this support in her body. When she is ready she can choose again, and now it will be from a deeper feeling of acceptance.
Everything that happens has been needed to bring forth the present situation.
Gandhi taught these simple steps for success:
- Set your intention
- Take steps towards it.
- Notice the outcome.
- Give the results to God.
True success for me is feeling my connectedness. I slowly develop a listening place in my heart that continues to connect with this Holy Child within.
Universal energy holds each of us and never lets us go. This is true love.
It’s holding you right now!
It’s not easy to be human, so let’s be merciful.
Merciful listening may be the greatest form of success there is!