Day 10: How do we define success?

A LoveSingapore 40.Day prayer devotional

Rev Dr Joshua Sudharman // July 10, 2024, 12:30 am

40D 2024 Day 10 (16x9 Thumbnail ENG)

Bible reading for 40.DAY 2024 | Mark 8:36

Question: Who is the most successful person in the world in your opinion? Keep that name in mind.

Next question: Which is the most successful nation in the world in your opinion? Keep that nation in mind.

Whoever the individual was that you thought of as being most successful, chances are, many other people think the same of them and envy them. This individual would be a hero and a benchmark that many others peg their aspirations to.

Whichever nation it was that came to mind, chances are, many other nations around the world envy this nation, and millions of people around the world wish their own nation was as successful as this nation.

The life source of a soul is God’s presence. To be separated from God as our life source is to forfeit your soul.

We live in Singapore – one of the most successful and envied nations in the world – and we are full of very wealthy and successful people. In fact we have become a magnet for the super wealthy. Remember how the movie Crazy Rich Asians was largely based here?

To the successful, and those aspiring to be successful, Jesus has a sobering but life-saving message: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36)

And by extension, He would say about nations: “For what does it profit a nation to gain the whole world and forfeit its soul?”

What does Jesus mean for a man or nation to gain the whole world? That’s easy to understand. When you’re top in every chart: Winner of a scholarship to a prestigious university, promoted to the C-suite at a young age, glamorously good-looking spouse, live in a good class bungalow, drive a super car, top-grossing internet influencer. Or best airport, lowest unemployment, lowest crime rate, highest per capita GDP, best education system, best transport system, and so forth.

But what did Jesus mean when he said “forfeit his soul”? 

A person’s soul is the innermost part of them, which gives life to their bodies and will ultimately outlive their bodies. It is that intangible part that is created in the image of God, and sets us apart from every other living creature.

The soul is only able to live when connected to God, and dies when disconnected from God. 

The life source of a soul is God’s presence. To be separated from God as our life source is to forfeit your soul. No amount of success, accomplishments, money, possessions, awards and human accolades, pleasure or power can compensate and keep your soul alive.

If we believe that these trappings of success can give life to our soul, we have believed a lie. These things not only do not give us life, they distract us and divert us from the one thing that does give life to our souls, which is an intimate and close relationship with God our Maker.

Redefining success

How can Singapore, this shining gem of a nation, not forfeit her soul? There is no other way than to redefine success.  

According to Jesus, the most successful person or nation is the one whose soul is in good shape, not just for now, but for eternity.

God wants Singaporeans and Singapore to succeed, but to succeed in the things that matter most. 

My fellow Singaporeans, whose view of success are you going to subscribe to? The world’s view, or Jesus’ view? 

He wants Singapore to have a relationship, even an intimate relationship, with Him. He wants Singaporeans to turn toward Him, to know Him, to be in love with Him.

It comes down to priorities. Every person who is successful has to make sacrifices and trade-offs, and that is true for success in business, or sports, or politics, or whatever. 

You have to prioritise certain things and de-prioritise other things. You can’t do everything. There just isn’t enough time.

So when we redefine success to the way Jesus defines success, it means that we need to make certain trade-offs and sacrifices. In attaining the success that truly matters for all eternity, we may have to sacrifice some of the success the rest of the world chases. 

We can’t have everything. We have to choose, because there just isn’t enough time to have your cake and eat it, too.

So, my fellow Singaporeans, whose view of success are you going to subscribe to? The world’s view, or Jesus’ view? 

That successful individual you thought of at the start of this message – is that person still your hero, your measure of success? If it is someone whose soul is in intimate relationship with God, then you have a good model to emulate. If not, please find a better hero. 

Let’s pray.

Dear Lord Jesus, You speak some hard truths that we need to hear. Open our eyes to see that we were wrong and You are right. Help us respond by a change in our priorities, for Your sake, and for our soul’s sake. 



1. In honestly evaluating your priorities, what would you re-prioritise in order to “profit your soul”?

2. In what way can you contribute to the “success” of Singapore by God’s standards? 

3. How will you pray for leaders in Government, church, industries, schools and community to pursue a success that is sanctioned by God?


1. Pray for a deep desire to know God, convinced that the greatest fulfilment of our soul is to be found in Him. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” (Jeremiah 29:13)

2. Pray for our nation’s leaders, confident that He has sovereignly placed them in authority and marked the days for which He will use them for His purposes. Pray that, by His mighty hand, He will be merciful to our nation to work in the hearts of those to whom He has given authority. 

3. Intercede for those whose hearts are cold towards God. Pray that they would believe in Christ as Saviour (John 5:24) and confess Him as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), so that they, too, might live within the grace of God.

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About the author

Rev Dr Joshua Sudharman

Rev Dr Joshua Sudharman is the Warden at St Peter's Hall.