The Means and Ends of Success and What It Profits a Man to Gain the Whole World


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A friend and I got together for dinner this week and discussed his answer to a question I asked him several weeks ago about my podcast. What precisely that question was escapes me now, but it was something along the lines of what he thought of the podcast, and what might be some areas of improvement to pursue, particularly where the quality of the content is concerned.

In the interim between the ask and answer, he listened to a number of episodes, and shared some of his observations. Most of those I'm still mulling over, but one has to start somewhere on the questions. So some of the questions he asked surrounding what the goals of the podcast are and what success looks like seem as good a place as any to begin.

Answering the general question of what the goal of the podcast is, and how specifically talking about my new desk or men getting vasectomies relates to that goal, the admonition our Lord gives in the gospels is at the fore of my attentions.

"What does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?"

Don't misunderstand. This podcast being successful need not mean losing my soul. Listening to sound advice and constructive criticism on ways to improve the podcast is not the same thing as selling out. But where some changes might bear a closer examination of the hierarchy of priorities here, I want to restate, even just to myself, what the order of operations is.

First, in order to hear in the end "Well done, good and faithful servant" from my God and King - this requires that the topics and their treatment here come from a place of devotion to God. And this in turn requires recalling God's Word as our only infallible authority for life and doctrine.

Where we are commanded therein to "take every thought captive" for Jesus, what all should be considered "gospel issues" correspondingly expands to every topic and subject to which God's Word could be said to speak. And when we frame the question in those terms, as to what constitutes a "gospel issue" we should want to keep our definitions from becoming unproductive for being either too broad or narrow.

But where God has given us all Scripture to know Him, ourselves, one another, and both life and godliness, the entirety of the Bible is "the gospel." Or else what technically is it except "the good news"? And isn't the good news this, that God rules and reigns over every facet of life? Is it not that all Creation belongs to Him just as it was created by Him? Is it not that all Creation is under His Sovereign rule and reign, and that our prayer and meditation ought to be to relate to all of the above in a way that honors Him faithfully by His grace?

Second, where we husbands are commanded to live with our wives in an understanding way, and to train up our children in the fear and admonition of the Lord, this podcast for me specifically is at its core intended as a labor of love to serve God, my wife, and my children well as we endeavor to think holistically about what it means to provide for the needs of our households.

And where the prophet Jeremiah delivers the faithful and true word of the Lord to the exiles in Babylon to "seek the welfare of the city" to which God's Providence has brought them in their exile, and to build houses and plant gardens and take wives and have children, this also is the reason I would talk on this podcast about my standing desk, or other men getting vasectomies.

But where some changes to the way I research, outline, record, edit, and publish this podcast may serve these goals well, or better, humility requires heeding wise counsel like his. And where other changes might undermine these goals, even there a clarifying of purpose by answering the questions again is also a benefit in renewing the commitment to what conscience dictates is a good, worthy, and God-honoring endeavor.

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