Great persons are they who see that the spiritual is stronger than any material force.
—RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Many people define success in terms of their material possessions. To be successful is to own a large, expensive home, with swimming pool, hot tub, and an entertainment center fit for captivating royalty. Add to that a vacation home by the shore, a luxury yacht, and two or three automobiles, including a high-powered sports car, a luxury sedan, and perhaps an upscale sport-utility van. Not many people can rise to such heights of affluence, but these artifacts populate the dreams of millions. It’s all right to dream of these things, and it’s all right to acquire them if your dreams take you that far.
But you won’t find true happiness in these material possessions alone. And success is an empty attainment if it doesn’t bring happiness.
Elvis Presley is an example of someone who had it all: a fine mansion, every luxury money could buy, and the adulation of millions. He was so saturated with money that he could buy a luxury car for a total stranger as a gesture of generosity. Yet, in the end, he died in despair.
In contrast, as Ralph Waldo Emerson points out, “The greatest man in history was the poorest.” Though Jesus Christ had no home of his own, few material possessions beyond the clothes he wore, and no army or workforce at his command, he was able to proclaim success on the eve of his trial and execution: “Be of ...