Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Pilgrim Road Blog Photo

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

31 Days of Courage: The Courage To Climb The Right Ladder

“She’s the kind of girl who climbed the ladder of success wrong by wrong.”  ~ Mae West

(That quote cracked me up...from Mae West no less!)

I want to say at the outset that I’m pro-success.  I love to see people find something they’re good at, that is satisfying to them, and God bless them too if they can make loads of money doing it.  (More on that in a minute)*.

It seems though, that in Western culture most of us have our ladders leaning on the wrong walls, and we climb them in the wrong direction.  It has taken me my entire adult life and some seriously difficult seasons to figure out that many of our aspirations are completely wrongheaded.  Making it to some well-planned goal, achieving a long held dream, experiencing what the world we inhabit calls success is taking a secondary thing and putting it in first place.  These blessings ought to be the good fallout of living with right priorities. (And there are no guarantees there either).  But it takes a great deal of courage to step out of our sin stained, self-loving shoes and choose the ladder less travelled. 

You’ve got to be brave to climb the right ladder.   Because you’ll be going against a hurricane force wind from the opposite direction.

I bet there’s someone out there thinking: “Who the heck is she to say what the right ladder is?”  And they’d be right.  But I’m just here to report what the Director of the Universe says:

“Seek ye FIRST the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these other things will be added unto you.”  Matthew 6:33

I’m not even talking to non-believers here.  I’m talking to people like me, who love God, and have a relationship with Him, and who've messed this thing up countless times.  I’m appalled at the way I’m swept up in the culture, how I fear man , and spend so much of my conscious life seeking after comfort, security and acceptability until I’m sick to death of myself.  To rise in the opinion of others for the sake of being admired is pride. Wanting to be the top, not to serve but to be served, is pride.  Wanting a home others envy or children you can boast in to your peers or letters following your name so you can feel a wee bit superior is pride. No sense dressing it up in some euphemistic blarney.  Facts are stubborn things.

Climbing the ladder Jesus describes means climbing DOWN:

“He who is greatest among you should be the servant of all.”  Matthew 23:11

When God in the flesh stoops down to wash and dry the filthy feet of his friends, that ends all discussion of what greatness really is.  We’ve got the whole fandango royally backwards.

If you have a place of authority, climbing higher means going lower.  If you’ve been blessed with wealth, climbing higher means digging deeper into those pockets for the sake of the poor.*  If you are gifted in any way, climbing higher means freely distributing that gift for the sake of others.  And if you don’t think this way of life requires a large dose of courage, I’d like to check your pulse. 

I think I shocked someone I’m acquainted with when last week I mentioned to him that his gifts and position were a marvelous opportunity to serve others.  This is a man the culture would say is wildly successful.  I’m not sure he ever even thought of it that way before…that it really isn’t about him at all.  God knows I’ve got to remember that truth every day. But he’s been so indoctrinated into our wrong direction ladder theology that he’ll have to be awfully gallant and resolute to move his ladder to another wall.

It’s just this friends:  It takes courage to go against the tide of power, materialism, intellectual superiority, artistic snobbery, worldly beauty and a whole host of other twisted priorities to get the dang thing right.  There is only one right ladder of success, and that ladder leans on a wall called The Kingdom of God.  Each person will have something different to do on those rungs, but they all move in the same direction: down. 

That’s not down in some joyless, woe is me, martyr kind of way either.  It’s the greatest ladder of success the world has ever known.

Remember that the most successful man of all time said:

 "He who loses his life for my sake will gain it...and what profit is it if a man gains the whole world but loses his soul?"  Matthew 16:25-26

 Lots of times, because we were greatly blessed to be born in America, we get all sorts of other icing on the cake of true success.  But the minute we start looking for those things as the primary goal, we’ve leaned our ladder on the wrong wall again.

 This is a daily effort, and not for the faint of heart.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


1 comment:

  1. This is an encouragement to me. Thank you. Some of my life choices have seemed like a step down but have brought great life and joy to me, and to some others I hope.