When I first arrived in the Saddleback Valley 40 years ago, I met many people who seemed to have it all. They had plenty of money and a wonderful place to live.
Yet despite their success, they longed for significance. They wanted to know their lives mattered.
These people reminded me of Nicodemus in the Gospel of John. Like many who achieve wealth and status, Nicodemus had everything a person could want, but it wasn't enough. He didn't know what to do with all that success.
But Nicodemus took the first step in finding out—he went to Jesus. When he did, Jesus led him on a three-step journey from success to significance.
These are the same three steps we need to encourage successful people to take as we engage them with the Good News about Jesus.
- Move from getting ahead to starting over. Jesus' first words to Nicodemus were: "Truly, truly I say to you, unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). Nicodemus was ready to move further up the ladder of success and saw Jesus as the next step. Jesus' response must have been hard to hear. He told Nicodemus he wasn't the next step on the ladder; Jesus told him he had to start all over again. Nicodemus thought he could scale new heights before experiencing new birth.
Don't try to scale new heights until you've experienced new birth.
Most of us know the phrase "born again," but many people we're trying to reach don't. Here's how I try to explain it to people: Just like we all have a physical beginning, we also need a spiritual beginning. We can't just slowly slide into a spiritual beginning; there needs to be a starting point. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things have passed away. Look, all things have become new."
To take a step toward significance, you must choose to start over spiritually. You need to let God do something new in your life. God isn't another step on your ladder of success—he is a whole new ladder.
- Move from thinking physically to thinking spiritually. Nicodemus responded to Jesus' statement about being born again with obvious confusion. "'How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?'" (John 3:4).
Jesus wasn't talking about physical birth. Nicodemus didn't get it; he had to think spiritually.
When we think about what success looks like for our lives, our minds often move to fame, power and money. We think about becoming a movie star, batting at Yankee Stadium or having loads of money. However, God wants us to think bigger—beyond physical success.
We need spiritual success.
A strategy for success that ignores the most important part of us—the spiritual part—is flawed from the very beginning. Because we can see physical success, it's easier to think about the physical world when we think about success. But Jesus says the physical world is way too small of a vision.
What would it look like to think bigger—not just physically, but spiritually?
—What would be the first thing God would heal in your marriage?
—What would change about your prayer life?
—How would you approach a struggling relationship differently?
Jesus wanted Nicodemus to think about how God could change his inside motivations and give him joy—and Jesus wants the people we're trying to reach to think about that, too. That's so much more important than money, power or fame.
- Move from respect for Jesus to belief in Jesus. Most people are familiar with John 3:16—the most famous verse in the entire Bible: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life."
It's a significant verse, but the following one is equally important. "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved" (John 3:17). That's God's strategy for significance in our lives. Jesus challenged Nicodemus to not just respect him but to trust him for salvation.
Jesus wants more than our admiration; he wants our worship.
To find significance in our lives, we can't just look at Jesus differently; we must trust Him with our lives. We can believe Jesus is a great guy, even a good moral teacher. But to live a life of eternal impact, we need to take it another step.
Nicodemus ended up living a significant life. Two-thousand years after his death, his encounter with Jesus is still being shared.
You may know people who have it all, but they're not living for something bigger than themselves. Help them take these three steps, and watch them move from success to significance.
Read part 1 of this article, "How to Move From Success to Significance."
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. Pastor Rick started The PEACE Plan to show the local church how God works through ordinary people to address the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease and illiteracy. You can listen to Daily Hope, Pastor Rick's daily 25-minute audio teaching, or sign up for his free daily devotionals at PastorRick.com. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global online community created to encourage pastors.
For the original article, visit Pastors.com.
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