by Paul Proctor
Used with permission
I was again reminded last week of just how far the perceived church has strayed from the Great Commission upon reading an article published in the Baptist Press entitled: Mid-life adults can move from ‘Success to Significance.’ It begins by quoting the renowned and now deceased business management guru Peter Drucker, whose celebrated concepts and principles came not from scripture but reportedly from his own observations and life experience – pragmatic precepts that have become the very leaven of today’s church, with the help and influence of men like Bob Buford, author of the book, Halftime.
The BP article’s writer, Don Beehler, quoted Drucker as having said this:
“people now have two lives — life one and life two…. They are over prepared for life one and under prepared for life two…there is no university for the second half of life.”
He then poses the question: “What exactly did Drucker mean by two lives?” followed by a suggested interpretation given later in the article from “successful” real estate developer, Lloyd Reeb:
“I came to the realization that each of the buildings I had built would one day be torn down and be forgotten,” Reeb said. “I began to re-evaluate life in view of God’s definition of success rather than my own, and made some serious changes.”
So, now, instead of our lives being assessed scripturally as either lost or saved – obedient or not – it is suggested that we divide them into two Earthly parts: A pursuit of “success” (Part 1) and a pursuit of “significance” (Part 2) under the implied premise that the latter is God’s definition of the former – that the pursuit of significance somehow has redeeming qualities because it is motivated by benevolent intent rather than brazen materialism.
The article goes on to say:
“The ‘halftime’ concept centers on the growing number of people like Reeb who reach mid-life and discover that the pursuit of success isn’t enough. They want their second half of life to really count for eternity.”
As presented here, “the pursuit of success” isn’t considered sinful, rebellious or even contradictory to the Christian life – just “not enough;” but not enough for what? – Our egos? When our pockets are overflowing, isn’t that about all there is left to fill? And the alternative is what? Pursuing significance? Did Jesus say: “Be ye significant, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?” What is the eternal value in that? Sounds significantly self-centered to me; but then I was taught that the biblical alternative to rebellion was repentance and that what Jesus demonstrated in the upper room with the basin and towel was that we are to be servants, not significant. Then again, I guess the role of servant is a little hard on one’s self-esteem – or if you prefer, one’s self-significance.
“‘Our goal is to cast a vision for church leaders to reach the greatest untapped resource that sits in front of them every Sunday — halftimers, marketplace leaders and individuals with experiences, gifts and callings to serve God,’ Reeb said.”
Cast a vision? Unless that’s the name of some fancy new fishing lure, I’d say we’re getting into pointed hats and flying monkeys here. Come on folks – let’s put the crystal ball up. Are we God’s resources or God’s redeemed? My dictionary defines “resource” as somebody or something “that can be used as a source of help or information.” Since when does the Lord need my help or information? If I understand the scriptures, it is WE who are in need of help and information – not God. All He wants is our obedience.
“…Reeb began speaking to men and women around the country about using this period of their lives to pause and to redirect time, talent and treasure into something fulfilling and lasting for Christ…”
Here, true repentance is craftily replaced with a kind of religious redirection and reinvestment of time, talent and treasure “FOR Christ” as if the Almighty, like the Marines, just needed “a few good men” to “get her done.”
“Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” – Revelation 3:17
Shall we now help God by helping ourselves, or is someone just seducing us into cooperation here by way of our own self-absorbed search for significance?
In the Baptist Press piece, Reeb cites a Harvard/Met Life study which he claims “shows that half of all Americans age 50-70 are interested in working to help the poor, elderly and others in need. They want to transition from lives of success to lives of significance,” adding “the trend is especially strong among baby boomers.”
In other words, this trendy baby boomer interest in helping “the poor, elderly and others in need” has nothing to do with the Word of God – the conviction of the Holy Spirit – true repentance and faith in Christ or even the Church, for that matter, and everything to do with “half of all Americans age 50-70” wanting to “transition from lives of success to lives of significance.”
If anything is being “transitioned” here, it is the Church being transitioned into that of a benign social services organization for the brotherhood of man – transitioning churchgoing baby boomers from “I am crucified with Christ” to “All for one and one for all” – which, to the spiritual, implies a one world religion – and to the secular – a new world order. The result is, not the adding of good works to one’s faith in Christ, but only the subtle substitution of true repentance with self-significance. Very shrewd, and ego-friendly, don’t you think?
Instead of repenting from a disobedient life of self-satisfying rebellion against God to an obedient life of self-denying righteousness in Christ, we are taught now to simply “transition” from “success to significance” – which in my view is simply moving from vanity to vanity since there is no scriptural evidence that significance is any more a fruit of the Spirit than is success.
Later in the article we see where this is all heading when Beehler reveals the following:
“Bill Craig, LifeWay’s director of leadership and adult ministries, said the widespread desire ‘to transition from success to significance among people reaching the second half of their lives creates tremendous opportunities for churches to partner with marketplace leaders in their congregations — and discover innovative ways to improve not only their local communities, but also the far reaches of the globe.”‘
So, “widespread desire…creates tremendous opportunities…with marketplace leaders…to improve local communities.” Somebody please show me in scripture what this has to with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and His Eternal Kingdom!
My trusty creeker-speak decoder ring with its special seeker-sensitive doubletalk descrambler tells me that it means the church has decided to unequally yoke itself to wealth, power and influence to make the world a better place for everybody – a world Jesus specifically commanded us NOT to love – to come out from and “be ye separate.”
“Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.” – Jeremiah 17:5
These aren’t pilgrims, folks – these are self-significant settlers making themselves right at home here in a kingdom built with hands.
Beehler eventually ends up leading us right into Hollywood’s latest liberal celebrity fashion craze of preferred charitable endeavors by talking about African villages, AIDS, orphaned babies and the providing of food, clothing and education – eventually mentioning, only in passing and ever so briefly, the “Gospel” (whatever that means to him) as if the afterlife was merely an afterthought, before going on to tell of “another person who made this transition from ‘success to significance,'” Sandy Griffith of Houston, who “rocks, feeds, soothes and, in prayer, asks God to bless… premature infants and those struggling to overcome other severe health problems” at Ben Taub General Hospital’s high-risk nursery unit.
So, what’s wrong with Lloyd Reeb speaking to people around the country about redirecting their “time, talent and treasure” into “something fulfilling for Christ?” and Sandy Griffith rocking, feeding and praying for preemies? Absolutely nothing, unless you’re using good intentions, acts of kindness and the irresistible pull of motherly heartstrings to replace the real Gospel of repentance and faith – something that is curiously unimportant in the article and, with the exception of one word, missing altogether.
Once again, grinning wolves are among us friends, using their warm and fuzzy truths to decoratively frame a cold and deadly lie; that the purpose of the Church is to love the world and make it a better place.
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” – 1st John 2:15-16
The final quote in the Baptist Press article reveals even more about the misguided nature of the Success to Significance program:
“‘We hope to ignite lives of adventure and impact throughout the nation,’ Reeb said.”
Is that what Jesus Christ commissioned us to do? – “Go ye therefore and ‘ignite lives of adventure and impact?'” That’s our incentive here? Did Jesus ever try and make the Christian life sound exciting, inviting, fun or adventurous to his followers? When did He ever dangle carrots of self-significance or adventure in front of them for motivation? So why do we repeatedly dangle such carrots today?
In my estimation, it is because there is no longer any conviction of sin or sense of foreboding about this fallen kingdom we find ourselves in – or even a longing for another. As far as I can tell, the vast majority of pew warmers today are not passing through to a better place – they’re already home.
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” – James 4:4
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
Jesus Christ did not suffer and die on a cross two thousand years ago to change the world, but rather to redeem us from it. By erroneously embracing the former, one foolishly forfeits the latter.
“Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.” – John 18:36