The Success Illusion – Raise Kids for True Greatness

How do you define success?

Webster’s Dictionary defines success as the following:

  • the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect, or fame

  • the correct or desired result of an attempt

  • someone or something that is successful : a person or thing that succeeds

As we continue in this series of post about the book “Raising Kids for True Greatness”, we need to understand how the world defines success. Dr. Kimmel writes,

We live in a day when success is defined by looks, IQ, strategic alliances, titles, and world records. Success is supposed to attract people’s attention and put you in a superior position in the human pecking order. And it is the natural desire average parents have for their children.

It’s easy to see that parenting can become preoccupied with crowding a child’s academic, athletic, and social resume with the accolades that count most in our culture but don’t have any bearing on eternity.

This world has said that our children have to be the…smartest, fastest, prettiest, best connected, most popular, best outfitted, best rewarded and most confident.

Everywhere we turn and just about everything we hear people say reminds us that we should be raising kids who primary goal is to post high marks and great statistic. To them, life is about success that can be quantified in degrees or dollar signs.

Dr. Kimmel goes on to talk about 5 “anchor tenets” of the success illusion:


Without even trying, parents can unwittingly format their children to need the empty praise of fame by orchestrating their lives so that they can become popular among their young peer groups. There’s a fine line between encouraging our children to excel and pushing them to achieve the public’s attention in the process


True greatness does not have power as its goal, but it often gains power by default.

Health & Beauty

The problem comes when we deify and worship health and beauty. This happens when our view of ourselves doesn’t come from our relationship with God but from the way we fit into our clothes and the images looking back at us in the mirror each morning.


Money is so important to many parents that it is not uncommon for a mom or dad to push a child to pursue a certain vocation simply because of its income potential. Whether the child has an aptitude for it, or even enjoys it, is irrelevant. The important thing is that he spends his adult life doing something that pays well.

We must be careful to avoid equating wealth with greatness. They are NOT the same!

Parents, let strive to raise our children with a passionate love for God that demonstrates itself in an unquenchable love and concern for others. Let’s not let the world determine what is success in the lives of our children. Let’s look to God’s Word for guidance and direction for their lives.

Matthew 20:25-28 – “Whoever wants to become great among you must serve the rest of you like a servant. Whoever wants to become first among you must serve the rest of you like a slave. In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many people”

Foundation Verse #2 – Matthew 6:24

Matthew-624-10-03-13“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

Nothing like jumping into a verse like this on the second week of the foundation verses but what a verse it is!

Remember, God told us last week (Foundation Verse #1) that HE created everything and now HE is telling us that we have a choice. We have a choice to choose between HIM or money.

The word “serve” here indicates the work of a slave. Since a slave is the sole property of one master, he must give the master exclusive service. This verse is telling us that we are either going to be a slave to Jesus Christ or we are going to be a slave to money.

The last part of this verse is very, very clear – a person CAN NOT serve both God and money!

Materialism will do the following to a person:

  • Enslave the heart – Matthew 6:19-21
  • Enslave the mind – Matthew 6:22-23
  • Enslave the will – Matthew 6:24

It is important for us to not only look at this verse but look at the verses preceding this verse. These verses are talking about laying up treasures in heaven. Verse 21 tells us,

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

Let me encourage you today to not place your trust (or your heart, mind or will) in money!

Charles Spurgeon said it like this:

God and the world will never agree, and however much we may attempt it, we shall never be able to serve both. Our danger is that in trying to gain money, or in the pursuit of any other object, we should put it out of its place, and allow it to get the mastery of our mind. Gain and godliness cannot both be masters of our souls: we can serve two, but not “two masters. ” You can live for this world, or live for the next; but to live equally for both is impossible. Where God reigns, the lust of gain must go.

There Is NO Plan B!

As Christians, and the church, we have been given our marching orders! It is our responsibility to carry out PLAN A and “GO”.

Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Who Do You Fear?

This is a very basic question but one that so many of us have to answer wrong when we compare our answer to what the Bible has to say. I would dare say that most of us would say that when we are going to be talking to someone about Jesus or we feel lead to witness to someone, we let the fear of man stop us.

The Fear of the LordMatthew 10 opens with Jesus selecting the twelve men who he wanted to be his disciples. Once He selected them, He gave them their instructions on what He wanted them to do. Beginning in verse 16, Jesus assures them that persecution will come…

Matthew 10:17-18:

Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.

As soon as Jesus finishes warning them about suffering persecution for His sake, He hits them with these verses…

Matthew 10:28-31

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear HIM who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

All men can do is kill the body, and, if that happens, we will forever be with the Lord in heaven. But God is the one who can destroy both body and soul and send us to hell. Rest assured that God will never condemn one of His own children (Romans 8:1).

He continues…

Matthew 10:32-33

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Warren Wiersbe says to acknowledge Him means more than to make a statement with the lips. It also means to back up that statement with your life. It is one thing to say “Jesus Christ is Lord,” and quite another thing to surrender to Him and obey His will. The walk and the talk must go together.

So, who do you fear more? Man or God? If our fear for God is more than our fear of man, we will obey the commands of the Lord!

“The person who fears God alone need never fear any man or group of men. The fear of God is the fear that cancels fear.” – Warren Wiersbe

The Disciples Marveled

Over the past few days I have been reading and thinking about Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5-7. What a incredible treasure trove of instructions.

Stormy SeaBut, one of the things that I found most interesting did not come until Matthew 8. The story begins in verse 23 with Jesus entering a ship that was heading out to sea. While out to sea a great storm arose. The Bible tells us that the storm was so bad that the ship was covered with the waves. His disciples panicked!

The story continues with the disciples waking Jesus up saying, “Lord, save us: we perish.”

Jesus questioned the faith of his disciples and then rebuked the wind and the sea. Immediate calm ensued.

Here is what amazed me – the response from the disciples. Verse 27 says,

But the men marveled, saying, What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him!

These are the same men, his disciples, that have given up everything to follow him. These are the same men who have been walking, talking & ministering with Jesus on a daily basis. These are the men who knew Jesus probably better than any other group of people. These men, a few verses before, had just witnessed a centurion’s servant healed, followed by Peter’s mother-in-law being healed of a fever.

These are the men that marveled at Jesus!

When was the last time you marveled at Jesus? When was the last time you were filled with wonder or astonishment over Jesus? You may have just received him as your Savior or you may have known him for years, but when was the last time you just were amazed by our great God?

I am not asking you when the last time you went to church or sang a praise and worship song. I am not asking you when was the last time you volunteered in your church. What I am asking you is this – when was the last time you were so overwhelmed by who God is that it made you stand in awe at who HE really is?

Who is HE? He is the God-Man that even the wind and the sea obey Him!