The other night I went to see a highly-accomplished speaker, Sander Flaum. In fact, I don’t know if I had ever been in the presence of anyone who had accomplished so many things. After graduating from Ohio State and receiving his MBA degree, he spent a few years in the military. He then went on to work for a pharmaceutical fortune 500 company for 18 years and in his tenure as Marketing Director he was responsible for many notable new product launches. He then went on to become chairman and CEO of another pharmaceutical company where he led a worldwide team of marketing strategists in introducing six blockbuster $2 billion healthcare brands. In 2004, he started his own consulting company, Flaum Navigators, which has helped revolutionize the pharma business. He is a chair and board member of a variety of different colleges and organizations. He is an adjunct professor. He is a featured speaker at numerous marketing conferences and leadership events and conducts workshops. And oh yeah, he has 2 best-selling books and another one on the way.
After they gave this introduction about him, I felt a little insignificant and intimidated. I couldn’t imagine accomplishing all that. However, not too soon after, I was at peace. You know what I realized? It doesn’t matter how successful to the world’s standards I will be on this earth. It doesn’t matter how many people know my name. It doesn’t matter how prestigious my career is. It doesn’t matter how much money I make. I already have the greatest treasure anyone could ask for. I have already done the most important action on the face of the earth. I have accepted Jesus and my future and eternity is secure with him. That is not to say that I don’t want to work hard in this life and do big things. However, my happiness and fulfillment on this earth is not rooted in my accomplishments, but rather in my love for Christ.
We live in such a performance based world. In college especially, it is intensified. We want to make a good impression on others and do a million different things to make our college experience worthwhile and to get ahead. Some of us are incredibly stressed trying to get perfect grades and will feel like a failure to our friends, parents or ourselves if we fail to meet a certain standard. I’m not saying we should not work hard, that we should not get involved in things we are passionate about. The thing though is that these things cannot completely fill us. The game never stops. We keep pursuing our dreams and desires, hoping to finally feel satisfied. But no matter how many things we accomplish or do, we will keep feeling empty if we rely on these things to reach fulfillment.
The only way to fulfill the empty parts of parts of our soul is through a relationship with Jesus. Jesus tells us that he is the living water and “whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst,” (John 4: 13).
If we look to our achievements to fill us, not only will we feel empty, but we will miss the purpose of life, that is, to glorify God. And we do this by loving Him and loving others. Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Love will last forever and have the greatest impact. Rick Warren puts it nicely in his book, A Purpose Driven Life:
“Love leaves a legacy. How you treated other people, not your wealth or accomplishments, is the most enduring impact you can leave on earth. As Mother Teresa said, ‘It’s not what you do, but how much love you put into it that matters.’ Love is the secret of a lasting heritage.”
We will not take our money with us after we pass. Our accomplishments won’t win us favor with God. When we die, our grades won’t matter. God doesn’t care whether we worked for a fortune 500 company or if we worked as a janitor. God wants us to work hard, but it really doesn’t matter in what profession, as long as it is glorifying to God. In everything we do, we must “do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,” (Colossians 3:17) Like Mother Theresa emphasized, God doesn’t so much care what we did, but if we did those things with love. The amount of treasure you receive in heaven, if you accepted Jesus, will be measured by your love. Did you love your coworkers and boss as yourself (John 13: 34)? Did you work to form genuine relations with them? Did you share the gospel with them? Did you serve and work hard for them because you truly loved them, or did you just do it to get ahead and get recognition?
I wish I would have accepted Jesus sooner because it would have saved me from so much pain. While there were certainly other factors, the fact that I put my identity in my accomplishments in college was a major reason for the stress that made me go insane in the hospital. I felt like I was failing at life. I wasn’t accomplishing the things I had hoped. My confidence was shot. Not only that, I was selfish. I didn’t love others well because I only cared about my own problems and success. My life was miserable because I was in no shape or form glorifying God. When I accepted Christ though, so much of my stress went away. Now that I was not as much concerned with achievements and glorifying myself, I was able to love and serve people in a way I never could of before. I’m not always perfect, but I strive to live for Christ and spread his love everywhere.
Mr. Flaum, if you ever happen to read this, I hope that you can take my words into consideration. I don’t know where your heart is spiritually, but I sincerely hope that you have or will one day find your identity in Christ. You have done some amazing things and I commend you and I was honored to have had the opportunity to listen to you. I want you to have the best life possible, not only in this life, but the one to come. You gave us 11 suggestions to make an impact in this world. I just hope that you will encourage others to make these actions steeped in love. And I hope you will do the same. Because without love, our legacy will never last.
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13)