Measure of Success

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The WORD in other words (2018) by Fr Naciso Cellan SVD – Nairobi, Kenya

In a recent study about success and achievement among African nationalities in Kenya, those for whom success meant living well with other communities outnumbered those who saw it in self-reliance. Those who believed that success was in being married, having children, animals, food and land were more than those who thought that success was personal happiness.

Non-Africans might argue that one can only live well with communities if the person is self-reliant, and that he/she can have personal happiness without necessarily being married, etc. To Africans, however, this line of argument misses the point – community comes first before self-reliance; family first, personal happiness second.

In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us the parable of three servants who received ten gold coins each from their master, and then were told to engage in a trade with what they had. The two did as instructed.

The first servant acquired ten more, and so was awarded with ten cities. The second gained five gold coins more, and thus was given five cities. The third servant however just kept the gold coins hidden, and so did not earn anything extra. Consequently, what he had was taken back by the master.

Success can be elusive, but in the end failure is a matter of choice. We need to be clear therefore with our priorities and values. What comes first for us? And how do we define success? Where do importance of community and family come in the equation of what we want to achieve in life?

The two servants who heeded their master’s command did what they did because they understood that their master and perhaps other people, too, depended on them. They were driven and willing to sacrifice. They cared more, thus received more.

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