There is a preschool teacher my husband and I just love. Once a year, usually early in the term, she explains to her students that pushing ahead of everyone else, not sharing, and not being patient are sometimes harmful. Generally, after this lesson her students go home in a more mannerly fashion and act more lovingly. And they usually remember not to push and shove to get ahead.
In our adult world, however, there does seem to be a lot of pushing and shoving. We all face the temptation to be first, to get ahead faster, to do better than others. Left unchecked, excessive competitiveness might reach into every nook and cranny of our lives—from how we drive to what company we decide to work for.
Of course, there's nothing wrong with trying to secure a better place for ourselves—if our motive is to serve others better. But if we're trying to get ahead of others simply to gain wealth or status—to glorify ourselves—we may begin to feel that material things are what make us important, and that it doesn't matter how we go about obtaining them.
Mary Baker Eddy, who spent her life serving others, writes, "A deep sincerity is sure of success, for God takes care of it" (The First Church, of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 203). What kind of success is this? And what is this "deep sincerity" that brings about such success?
Understanding one's relation to God—and then putting it into practice—is one aspect of the deep sincerity needed for success. This means viewing oneself as God's loved and perfect child, understanding that God expresses Himself through His children (you and me) and that this expression is entirely good.
All good qualities come from God, qualities such as integrity, health, honesty, and intelligence compose our true, spiritual nature. These are the real substance of our identity, and utilizing them enhances every aspect of our lives. The result is a deep sincerity that benefits everyone with whom we're in contact. Any "me first" inclinations begin to fade out as we embrace this more spiritual outlook and genuinely want to help others. This kind of sincerity is also a strong defense against the temptations of dishonesty and egotism.
The success we gain from practicing this deep sincerity is tangible. We don't need to push others out of the way, because we're learning that everything good comes from God, and that all of us are equally and amply supplied by our Father-Mother.
The thought that others stand in the way of our advancement is a misconception of our relation to God. It makes greed and envy our motivators by telling us that unless we are aggressive competitors, we'll never get ahead. This attitude tends to make us feel separated from the presence of God, divine Love. But when we trust in the laws of God to take care of our interests in the best possible way, we can destroy such misconceptions.
Many years ago, a close friend of mine often played in piano competitions—and often lost. These were usually very trying times. The pressure and fear she felt, along with her envy of other performers, took away her peace and trust in God. Getting ahead, finishing first and best, gaining recognition, were at the top of her list.
Then, one day this friend's piano professor began to talk to her about competing with herself instead of focuing on others. To the teacher, this meant praying to do better each time my friend played a piece—to express more beauty, vitality, purity, and tenderness. It meant utilizing the qualities she naturally reflected from God.
The piano professor began to talk to her about competing with herself instead of focusing on others.
After this, my friend's prayers and efforts began to focus on what it means to express the attributes God has given her. Her fear subsided. Her jealousy faded. The pressure ceased, and there was genuine improvedment in her talent and attitude.
The result was not that my friend won any competitions—but that she was growing spiritually. Joy and freedom of expression came more naturally, and she was content, not only to improve herself, but also to see the good in other performers. My friend was perceiving more of her relation to God. She was also better able to serve others.
Progress and success result from spiritual growth and from gaining a clearer perception of our Father-Mother God. This is the deep sincerity that God takes care of and rewards. It's your success. It's our success.
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