Success to Significance

by Rick Brekelbaum, Retired Exxon Corp. Executive

Several years ago I was challenged to think about what I had accomplished in my life and what I would do over the remainder of the years I may be allowed to live.  My upbringing, education and career were centered very much on accomplishing (i.e. being all that I could be.)

I was born in America to the upper middle-class family.  My parents instilled in me honesty, integrity, hard work, value of money and the education it could buy.  The education I received was the best money could buy: a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from Northwestern?s Kellogg School of Business.

I married my high school sweetheart and headed off for New York upon graduation with the MBA after joining one of the world?s largest and most successful companies.  My early career was very much focused on advancing up the professional ladder and I eventually became an executive manager with over 17 years of experience living, working and raising a family outside the USA.

Successful Yet Not Fulfilled
However, inside I started to question how shallow pure success-oriented living was.  Much of society’s emphasis on values of money, possessions, power, prestige, pleasure etc. seemed to be so empty and non-fulfilling.  For example, how much money was enough and did it really buy happiness? The news was filled with many unhappy, unfulfilled multi-millionaires.  I also saw examples of power corrupting and pleasures so short-lived that often lead to devastating consequences for families.

Solution With Lasting Value
At that time, I made a decision to surrender my life to Christ and follow Him.  My whole life came into balance – job, family and faith.  I truly experienced the truth of Matthew 6:33: “Seek first His kingdom and righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”  I realized then it was all about doing things in God?s strength, via the power of the Holy Spirit and not by my own efforts.

Later in my career I finally appreciated the true concept of significance in life – something that had lasting value and would impact society for generations to come.  I noticed that most people who truly had a positive impact on people were others-centered and not self-centered as my generation had been taught in looking out for No 1. People like Mother Teresa, President Lincoln, Gandhi, Jonas Salk, Martin Luther King, Bill Wilson (founder of AA  Alcoholics Anonymous) etc. acted out of altruistic desires to better their generations and those to come.  They made sacrifices and gave up relatively “cushy” lives in order to serve others and establish a legacy.

Long-Lasting Legacy
I then was challenged to consider how my LIFE (labor, influence, finance/resources and expertise) could be used to have an impact on others.  I was stretched to think outside the realm of my own family and career.  Certainly the influence I had on my sons and their families was important and something we had been working on in order to leave a long-lasting legacy. This even led us to consider retiring early as we realized how blessed financially we were, that I could retire, have enough to live on and give to my family, as well as others.  We thought about the years remaining that God might give us  and what were we to do with them?  That led us to ponder the verse: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).  We have now devoted a portion of our time working with Latin American leaders to help encourage them in the transformation of their communities as they teach personal and corporate leadership, time-tested values and standards and principles.

In conclusion, I realized that there is nothing inherently wrong in seeking success.  At the same time ensuring that the measures of success were something that would lead to significance, not necessarily in some earth-shattering invention or contribution but something that would be others-centered and serving a benefit for others in my family and society through God’s power.  When we get to heaven, we want to receive Christ’s blessing of: “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21).

Are you at the place in your life where you want your life to count for significance? Would you like to help other people reach their potential? Why not let Jesus show you how to do this? If you don?t know Jesus, we encourage you to pray the following prayer:

Lord Jesus, I want to know You personally. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of my life. Make me be the person You want me to be. Amen.

Is it the desire of your heart to make this prayer yours?

If yes, pray now and according to his promise, Jesus Christ will come into your life.

If you prayed this prayer we would love to hear from you . If you would like to know God deeper we can connect you with an email mentor and/or send you some great links.

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Why do You want to be Successful?  Business leader Peter Chung, a Christian business man, shares about his experience.

Getting Life Back on Track by Marvin Kehler

Redefining Success – Successful business owner Dr. Ed Becker describes how is definition of success changed.

 Setting up a  Proper Foundation in Your Life for a Successful Business and Personal Life – Dr. Ed Becker

Unexpected Opportunity Herb Buller talks about how having cancer in his eyes turned into positive opportunities.

Being Honest and Ethical in Business – Herb Buller talks about  Seizing Opportunities and Becoming a Work of Art

What does Success look like for You?  Entrepreneur John Roise