Elijah thought winning the battle with the prophets of Baal would restore the faith of the Israelites in God. For three years the prophet had waited and dreamed about this moment. It had been an incredible spectacle on Mt. Carmel (1 Kings 18), but, in the end, it really made no difference. It sadly culminated with an exhausted Elijah wishing he was dead, (1 Kings 19).
Dreams can die hard. Ask a child what he wants to do when he grows up and you’ll hear, “I want to be an astronaut,” (or a superhero). Not one will say, “I want to be a drug addict or a bum.”
Perhaps you’ve reached the age when you doubt your dreams will ever be fulfilled. You might even feel like a failure. “I’m never going to be …” It’s the great heartache of middle age. Batsell Barett Baxter called failure one of the four destructive emotions (anger, guilt, and fear round out the list).
It’s a fact of life that we can’t all be president or pro-golfers, so perhaps, the problem is with our definition of success. Peter told us to “make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue,” (2 Peter 1:5). I believe virtue is better translated “excellence.” The Greek word behind the English translation, arete, is extraordinary.
Originally, arete described being the best in something good. So, “in the Odyssey, Penelope has arete, because she is the best wife a woman can be. But Achilles in the Iliad also has arete, because he is the best warrior that a man can be. Odysseus has arete because he is so clever, and thinks up effective plots. Athletes have arete when they win the foot-race. Being very good at something good is the definition of arete; Medea’s witchcraft, for example, isn’t t because it’s a bad thing.”
Elsewhere arete describes “manliness” or valor in battle, fortune, fame, and success, but as time went on the word was used to describe an excellence — including moral excellence — that is so remarkable, it must be miraculous. It is obvious God is working in your life.
Success then doesn’t depend on the accomplishments listed on your resume, but on the excellence of your life. Be excellent in your craft, whatever it may be. Be excellent in your relationships. Be excellent in your soul! Be excellent! You’re a child of God.
Sign up to hear from us about specials, sales, and events.