Called to Be Faithful

The caption for this week’s article forms a part of some of the most poignant words I have come across in my life: “God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful.” These words credited to Mother Teresa were uttered in response to those persons who were appalled in some ways by what they considered as less than acceptable conditions of the Home for The Dying in Calcutta, India. In no way ignoring the cleanliness and order of things, Mother Teresa was more concerned in giving persons dying a sense of hope and peace; and thus the words of not being called to be successful but faithful.

What Does It Mean to Be Faithful?
Faithfulness may mean many things to different persons. For example, faithfulness to a husband means that he would not cheat on his wife and likewise she would not cheat on him. To a person watching his weight, it means discipline to diet- observing the amount and timing of intake; and to a student persistence in studying, completing homework assignments and preparing for class. To pastors and elders it means diligence in preparing for services, sermons and visiting regularly. Above all “faithfulness” is fulfilling God’s purpose for one’s life daily. It begins with spending time with God, working for Him and doing one’s best without regard to recognition. I know that that is easier said than done. However, to do otherwise is to miss the point. It is calling into question one’s motive.

What Does It Mean to Be Successful?
I would think that everyone wants to be successful, successful in class, on the job, in marriage, in raising a child to love Jesus and the like. Those desires cannot be wrong, for doesn’t the Bible call us to do our best? However the difference for Mother Teresa lies in focus or motive. Her objective was to simply be an instrument of love faithfully carrying out the mandate of God to heal, mend and restore. In this regard, she sought to please God by fulfilling what she regarded as His purpose for her, and that was faithful service. On the other hand, if we are not careful, we can do the right things for the wrong reasons. I can feed others to be recognized or to make the news; or I can compromise a little if it will get me elected. With a focus on being successful, I may be tempted to compromise my morals to get to the top. After all that could mean more money and more tithe for my church. I can tell a lie if it means that I would get the job or status. In other words, I could be so success minded that I put aside my Christian principles and values.

The Paradox of Faithfulness
When I am all absorbed in being successful, it is possible, as noted, for me to ignore my religious principles just to get ahead or to obtain what I want. On the other hand, when I am faithful, regardless if I appear to be disadvantaged, experience has shown that with God one does not lose- at least ultimately. The Bible is replete with examples such as Joseph, Daniel, Barnabas and others who focused on doing God’s will and ended up being successful in their settings which possibly could have been realized otherwise. Certainly you and I can think of personal examples of success that came from not pursuing it but by being faithful to God. With the adoption of this mantra, the world would be a better place. Maybe I am expecting too much, but did not God say, “Be thou faithful until the end?” Let’s pursue faithfulness to God, His Word and the Spirit of Prophecy in all that we do.