Whether we are Christians or not, research shows that most Australian’s are enthralled by our possessions, and continue in the scrambling to accumulate even more stuff.
So often we are crippled by debt, exhausted by working long hours, irritated in our relationships, and unfulfilled in our pursuit of success.
Most people suffer from harmful definitions of success, but are often unaware. We seek success in our careers and our families, our relationships and our spiritual lives, but success is elusive. It’s fleeting and it’s addictive.
Recently on 20Twenty, Neil spent some time discussing whether our thoughts about success may be harming us. Our special guest, Dr Omar Djoeandy, has for decades been exploring what success means to people around the world, from the slums of Nairobi Kenya, to the elite world of being a medical doctor.
Omar shares his personal experiences of redefining success in his own life according to Jesus. He is Chinese, was born in Indonesia, and has been in Australia since the age of 10. He studied medicine at the University of NSW, as well as theology in Kenya, and has worked as a GP in Sydney and as an Associate Pastor at the Nairobi Chapel in Kenya. He spends half his time now with an organisation called Serving In Missions as a missions consultant, coach, mentor and speaker.
Omar believes we are setting ourselves up for disappointment by always craving for more if we get our definition of success wrong.
“When I got into medicine, it was the first time my dad said he was proud of me. But the pressure to achieve was so intense. There was always another wrung to climb and it was never enough. If we define success by our achievements, possessions, appearance, or any other outward symbol, there will always be someone else with more.”
Omar has devoted his life to medicine and his pastoral studies, and has had many opportunities to look more deeply below the surface at how people define success. In his new book, Redefining Success, Omar shares the insights he has gained through many years of research and mentoring.
“All of us have had moments defining success in a way that is unattainable. Anytime we define success outwardly, we are making a mistake. Life is not about our possessions, it’s about following Jesus.
“Many people reach the pinnacle of success then look around and wonder if this is all there is. They keep trying to climb the ladder but what is the wall we are leaning on? When we get to the top what will we see?”
Omar continues that we need to cry out to Jesus, and ask Him if we are a success in His eyes. “How does Jesus define success? When we overextend ourselves to keep up the appearance of success, it drains us of our energy. We really need to keep asking how Jesus defines success.”
Omar believes we all want a life of meaning and purpose.
“No one can go through life aimlessly. Deep down we all want to mean something to somebody, and we need that honest soul searching. Kids in slums are actually happier than our kids who have everything! Why is that? We just keep on spending more and more, thinking that this life is all there is.”
Omar says that every time he asks people what would make them feel more secure – the answer is always the same. Just a little bit more. “But we will never feel secure unless we put our trust in God. We’re all smiling on the outside and struggling on the inside. It is far more important to be rich in a relationship with God. When our foundation is built on being God’s precious child, nothing can take that away. If our security and identity is as God’s children we are a success in His eyes. We need to sow ourselves into the work of the kingdom of God.”
Omar says that he can emphasise enough that success comes from being part of a community of Jesus followers.
“We need each other. We want to be giving generously of our time, emotional energy and money, and we don’t have that to give if we are consumed with our own personal success.”
Listen to the rest of Dr Omar Djoeandy’s fascinating discussion about redefining success below.