What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Mark 8:36
"What price are you willing to pay for success in the business world? Are you prepared to reach the top though it may cost your marriage, or the affection of your kids?" So what if you climb the ladder of success, only to find that it was leaning against the wall of the wrong building?
I'm thinking of the businessman who sat down in my office and began to pour out his heart. "Dr. Sala," he began, "I've been very successful in my career." That was already obvious by his clothes, the car he drove, and even more telling, his mannerisms. Successful people have a way of mentally taking control. Wherever they sit is the head of the table. They have a kind of commanding demeanor, and he had that.
"I have more than 2,000 employees in my company, and I've made a lot of money," he said. But then his eyes dropped to the ground, not focusing on anything in particular as he said, "But when it comes to my wife and family, I fear I have been a miserable failure." The question I would ask is this: "Has a person really succeeded when he makes it in business but fails in the most important of all relationships, those involving his wife and children?"
Long ago Jesus said, "For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36, KJV), but today I think he would say, "What does it profit a man, if he shall gain the company presidency, or attain a position as CEO and Chairman of the Board, if he loses his wife and family in the process?"
All of this, of course, is not disturbing when it applies to "the other person"--the ones you see with their white knuckles grasping the briefcases as they run for the commuter train or to the parking lot to race to another appointment. But when you look in the mirror and say, "Man, you are losing it. You snarl at your kids and transfer the stress from work to your wife. You've become a grouch, always too tired or too busy to play with your kids" – it becomes very personal and disturbing.
Some folks wait until a crisis strikes and then they back off and do what should have been done long ago, much like the one of whom Jesus spoke when He told about a man who said he would tear down his barn and build a larger one, not knowing that he would drop dead in the process. "But God said to him, 'You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?'" (Luke 12:20).
When God calls someone a fool, it is a strong rejoinder; but that's exactly what you are when you allow what makes you successful in business to destroy your family and personal relationships.
The Prodigal came to his senses and said, "I will return to my Father"; and wise is the person who says, "It may be late, but not too late to come home. It just isn't worth it." My wife has always said, "There are some things that only you can do. You've got to decide what is important and then make the hard decision."
She's right. Deciding what is important may well be the most important decision you ever make in life. Don't wait until you are felled by a heart attack, or your wife takes the kids and goes home for an unscheduled visit, to look at your priorities. Your decisions are reflections of your priorities, so think through them and decide today what really counts.
Resource reading: Psalm 1:1-6