Written By EDEW, Philippines
In this materialistic age, we often equate success with attaining status, wealth, and power. For some, material success is the means to attaining self-actualization. According to Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”, self-actualization is about realizing one’s full potential, and is the top level of needs after other needs are satisfied—physiological, safety, love, and self-esteem. It is the desire to accomplish everything that one can, and to become the most that one can be.
But have we confined this idea of self-actualization to an empty and selfish material pursuit? As Christians, have we also made pleasure our primary goal in life?
My personal path to self-actualization started with a desire for material possessions, but by the grace of God, it evolved into a thirst for peace which only God was able to provide (John 14:27), and a desire to fulfill His will—and not my wishes—in my life.
While I know that God does not prohibit us from getting wealthy—He endowed riches on people like Job, Joseph, and Solomon—He has taught me some things in my journey towards seeking true fulfilment in my life:
- God alone deserves the glory. When life gives me all that I desire, I end up taking the credit for my success rather than giving the glory to Him. If money comes easily, it becomes easy for me to believe that I can buy security, peace, and resources instead of relying on God. In today’s world, it is easy to worship money and its purchasing power.
- God is the one who gives us our talents. When Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites, he protested that the Egyptians would not believe or listen to him (Exodus 4). But God used the rod in his hand to defeat Pharaoh’s snakes, to turn water into blood, and to part the Red Sea. God is the one who gives me the talents and skills to be used according to His purpose. Whatever I have, I should use it for His glory. I should not seek honor from men, but make it my priority to do His will.
- God’s idea of fulfillment is sacrifice. God’s Son, Jesus, lived a life devoid of material wealth or comfort. He was born in a manger, not in a golden crib. He was born into a carpenter’s family, and not into a royal household. He was crowned with thorns, not with honor. He dressed in humility, and not with a robe of pride. And finally, He was rejected, shamed, and hung on the cross. In completing the Father’s mission for Him—that is, to sacrifice His life to save sinners like me from judgment—Jesus fulfilled His purpose. I believe that this is the true meaning of self-actualization—fulfilling God’s purpose in our lives—and it has nothing to do with materialism.
I am thus convinced that it is only in God that I can attain self-actualization, just as John 15:5 states, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
My true calling is to serve God’s purpose; happiness and serenity will then follow.