Do we want to be a success or do we want to be fruitful?

Do we want to be a success or do we want to be fruitful?

“The fruit of our lives may be visible only to those who live after us.” —Henri Nouwen

We learned nothing from COVID-19. We had a great opportunity during the shutdown last April to slow down and refocus our priorities. However, as soon as everything opened back up again, it seems like everyone hit the ground running and life went back to normal. I really think we missed the message God was trying to tell us — to slow down and smell the roses again.

I really hate to say this, but the time I felt the closest to God was during the shutdown. I had church with my wife and God, of course. I was praying more, reading my Bible more and just taking it all in. Then everything opened back up, and it was like nothing had changed. Instead of longing for God, people long for the old normalcy in their life again.

Now there is nothing wrong with going back to normal, but for me it was so easy to get lost in the shuffle of things. I often wonder if we are not losing ourselves in the mix. I love the line in a Lady A song, “I run my life, or is it running me?” For a lot of us, life is doing the running.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to be successful. I have a measure of success as a writer — and I want to have much more — but I should be more focused on having my writing be more fruitful, for just the number of readers I have. Having a lot of people reading what I write is great, but knowing I help people, that’s what matters the most. Numbers are for keeping score, but helping others is life-changing.

In “The Little Prince,” there is a line that says, “What is essential is invisible to the eye.” The process of bearing fruit is a long road, with a lot of bumps along the way.

We get so wrapped up in making ourselves look good that we don’t ever think about taking time off. We just want to be on the go all the time, failing to realize that to be at our best, we need to spend time thinking and resting. I’ve seen videos of successful businesspeople who say we should work all the time, but some of the most successful millionaires and billionaires scheduled time to think and knew it was about taking care of their people as well as themselves.

Some of us have been so focused on being successful that we forgot how to just be still. The Lord tells us to be still and know that he is God, not to do and know that he is God. Many good Christians in ministry are so busy doing for God that I sometimes wonder if they know him as well as they once did. I think that for myself as well.

God wants to work in all of our lives, but we need to spend time with him for that to happen. We can spend less time in meetings, get up an hour earlier or take the long way home from work, all so we can think. When we do that, we can have a more meaningful impact on people, for the good of them and us.