Choose Not to Work for Fame or Fortune

One More Year of Choices

By Barbara Dahlgren

We’ve all heard that fame and fortune will not bring us happiness. Of course, most of us would like to prove it for ourselves.

Fame is a fickle mistress. What is popular today may not be popular tomorrow. So if our identity is based on our fame, how do would we feel or cope when the adulation of others is gone?

Money can buy some things, but not what really counts. It can’t buy health, a good marriage, a loving relationship with our children, true friendship, patience, integrity, trust, peace of mind, or wisdom. According to the Beatles, it can’t even buy us love. So if our identity is based on our fortune, how would we feel or cope when we have to fly coach instead of first class?

Working for the wrong reasons can be distressing. After all, we work, work, work for stuff and when we die we have to leave it all to others. We do all the work and others get the benefit. We don’t really know what they will do with our accumulated wealth. (Ecclesiastes 2:17-19) All our precious, special treasures will end up in somebody else’s yard sale. Believe it or not, life is not measured by what you own. (Luke 12:15) And you can’t take it with you!

Why do we work then? This is an important question, because why we do what we do determines our outlook on life.

Work is important to God. God set the example in the beginning by working to create everything. (Genesis 1 & 2) Adam and Eve were told to work in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 2:15) We are told to work with all our might. (Ecclesiastes 9:10) We are to provide for our families. (1 Timothy 5:8) One biblical principle I stressed often to my children was: If you don’t work, you don’t eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10) It was particularly effective before a meal. Having a work ethic is very important to God. However, God wants us to work for the right reasons.

If our purpose is just to accumulate wealth or become famous, then what happens once we achieve those goals? We will no longer have a purpose. An unhealthy desire for fame and fortune causes people to succumb to temptations and lusts that lead to destruction. (1 Timothy 5:9-10) Better to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, patience, gentleness, and love. Better to have a right motivation. (1 Timothy 5:11) Placing too much emphasis on getting fame and fortune is what the book of Ecclesiastes is all about. It’s all vanity.

Yes, we do need money to survive in this world. We all need the basics like food, shelter, and clothing. I think of my dad who didn’t have much education, so he worked in a factory job day in, day out. It wasn’t a job he loved, and we barely got by. However, he worked cheerfully because he loved his family and wanted to provide them with what they needed. He was doing the best he could. He was working for love – because he loved his family.

Actually, it was a little deeper than that. Ultimately, he felt his work, no matter what it was, should honor God. The Bible says we should work hard, as if we are working for God, not men, because God will give us our reward. We are actually serving Jesus Christ through our work. (Colossians 3:23-24)

Consider this…Working to honor God can provide purpose and meaning far surpassing fame and fortune. People forget that fame and fortune are actually gifts from God and can be taken away more quickly than acquired.

Working hard and enjoying the fruits of our labor is actually a good thing when God is the focus of our lives. (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19) When we work to honor God, fame and fortune don’t really matter. They are nice, but not necessary. We learn to be content with what we have – whether it be a little or a lot. We can enjoy life regardless when we give God the glory!

 

Suggestions for practicing this choice…

Stop believing the lie that fame and fortune will make you happy. Actor Jim Carrey said, “I wish everybody could get rich and famous and have everything they ever dreamed of, so they will know it is not the answer.” Happiness is a choice.

Don’t step on others to get what you want. When climbing the ladder of success, treat everyone with dignity and respect. You may need them if you fall down the ladder.

There’s nothing wrong with finding a job you love. However, until then, make the most of the job you have. Show up on time. Do your job and then some – a little above and beyond.

There’s nothing wrong with having dreams and working towards goals. Develop a positive outlook. Don’t get discouraged. Most importantly, always keep God in the picture.

Remember that no one achieves anything on their own. Be willing to give others some credit – especially God.