Happy Father’s Day to all the Dad’s and Grandpa’s! (June 19th if you’ve forgotten.) The poem below was given to me many years ago by someone I care about a great deal. It meant a lot when it was given to me, and it still speaks to me many years after.
THAT MAN IS A SUCCESS
who has lived well, laughed often and loved much;
who has gained the respect of intelligent men
and the love of children;
who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
who leaves the world better than he found it,
whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem
or a rescued soul;
who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty
or failed to express it;
who looked for the best in others
and gave the best he had.
Those of us who are fathers and grandfathers, hopefully recognize the role model we play for the little ones charged to our care. Children’s values in life are shaped early on by the example of the parents. Parents want their children to be successes in life. But success is one of those tricky terms; how does anyone really know when you’ve achieved “success”? Often people try to define success in terms of money, material items, or positions of power. But deep down inside most of us realize that true success is not measured by such tangible things.
True success is found within. It is a soul that has peace with God and a heart that is filled with joy over life itself. Those are things that your status can’t give you and money can’t buy. Amazingly, such values are passed on not only to our children, but to those around us as well.
In the Holy Scriptures, the writer of Ecclesiastes bumped into the same lesson. He tried to find true success and the meaning in life through the pleasures of the world, through power/prestige, and through material wealth. He found all of it to be: “Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless!”
Here are some of his thoughts:
On chasing the pleasures of this world: “I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.” But that also proved to be meaningless.”
On chasing after power and prestige: “I became greater by far than anyone in Jerusalem before me… I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”
On being anxious about our positions in life: “What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.”
On chasing after money: “Whoever loves money never has enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with their income. This too is meaningless.”
After experiencing all that the world calls important, he finally realized that true success in life is found in our relationship to God:
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”
When all is said and done, my prayer for each of you and for me is that we may truly be a “success” in this life we have been given to live. It is a precious gift from God.