Galatians 5:25-26 – Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.
A successful life is something that most people are searching for and yet I have found that most people feel exhausted by the rat race of life. What if you could step out of the race and find success in your life? Below are three keys to a successful life.
1. A successful life comes from realizing you are an original.
We have built a culture in America of manufacturing and assembly line humans. Life begins as a completely unique individual and culture strives over the next 20 years of your life to strip all individuality and uniqueness from your life and reprogram your mind to believe you need to be just like everyone else. The educational system is built, in my opinion, to take individuals and by the time you graduate train you to be a cog that talks and thinks the same as every other student that graduates with you.
The more you conform to whatever is considered the norm the higher the grade you get. There is a standard set and you have to dress the same, I.e. the adoption of school uniforms, think the same, and agree with whatever is being taught. I remember the kids in my school who dared to have some originality were treated as broken and needed to be fixed.
We even do this in churches. It is a rare find to attend a church where everyone doesn’t talk the same, look the same, conform to the same unwritten rules of dress and conduct. The more you conform to the unwritten rules you are regarded as “mature” and promoted up the ranks.
However, I believe the secret to success in life is to understand that you are an original. There is no one like you in this world and thus you have an assignment that no one else can fulfill. We need to begin to celebrate the things that make us unique.
Paul says at the end of this scripture above that each of us is an original. He goes on to say that we need to do our best to live our lives creatively. What about you? As you look at your life have you fallen into this assembly line mentality and allowed your life to look just like everyone else’s? Have you lived a life of creativity and uniqueness?
I believe no one sees the world the same way you do. I believe that you are absolutely unique and you have something to offer the world that no one else can. Unfortunately, what happens is because of the assembly line mentality life becomes a competition to do things bigger, better, faster, instead of a life of freedom to fulfill the unique purpose you have. Which leads to the second secret to a successful life.
2. Stop competing and comparing.
Success has come to mean, do you have more than someone else, did you do something faster than someone else, did you make something bigger than someone else. It is an arbitrary measurement of competition against someone else. The problem with success being based on competition and based solely on comparison is that only a select few people can be successful because there is always someone faster, stronger, smarter, etc.
If we can break out of this mentality and begin to understand that we are individuals then comparison and competition become useless. It is very hard to compare an elephant and an orange. It is almost impossible to find a standard to compare an airplane to a grain of sand. These may seem extreme but I believe to compare two individual humans on whether they are successful is the same as comparing an airplane to a piece of sand.
Humans are not manufactured in a factory (yet at least). There is not another human on this planet like you. You are a unique individual and the moment you can begin to stop comparing your life to anyone else and begin to live your unique life the sooner you can be a true success. You don’t have to compete with anyone else. The unique combination of strengths and weaknesses that make up who you are, the desires you are born with and acquire over time, set you apart.
The current hot topic in our world is bullying. I was a police chaplain for nine years before I moved and over the nine years, I was called out multiple times and the majority of the calls were because a teenager took their life and it traced back to bullying. This completion and comparison mindset begets a culture of the perceived strong belittling the perceived weak to become a success.
The freedom that comes from being released from the rat race of comparing and competing will allow you to live a life of success because the only measurement becomes did you find your purpose and did you fulfill it. There is no more need to compare your life to someone else because they have their own unique purpose.
If we continue to live a life of comparing and competing it leads us to a worldview of labeling others into categories so we can create perceived equality. We do this in politics all republicans are the same and then we can compare them to democrats. We manufacture equality because we realize that to compare and compete there has to be an equality baseline. Since we can’t compare two individual humans we have to turn to labels to create an even baseline. This then leads us to our third key to success.
3. Stop using labels to dehumanize people.
The problem with creating labels to categorize people into an equal baseline is that any category you create or any label you create has a million variables. This competition mindset has allowed us to lie to ourselves that all humans within a certain category are exactly the same. Thus we can eliminate a huge section of competition by using labels to elevate ourselves.
Here is the problem Democrats are as different from each other as sands on the seashore. I live and work in the world of Christianity as a pastor and that is an easy label to judge a group of people who carry the label, Christian. However, I have been in this world my whole life and the difference between one Christian to another is as wide as the pacific ocean. Christians can’t agree on anything. There are so many divisions within that little label of Christians that is very unfair to use as each Christian is completely different.
You want to have a successful life begin to look at everyone as a unique individual and throw away your labels. Labels for the most part are there for us to dehumanize people so our conscience allows us to treat them less than human. Sure life is simpler when we use labels but that’s because we live in the world of comparison and competition.
Success comes when you can jump out of this mindset and begin to treat each person as an individual with a name and unique gift to offer this world. Think about how different your life would be if you began to treat each person as an individual instead of a label.