Dr. Lee Camp: What is true success?
Last week Dr. Lee Camp from Lipscomb University lectured as part of this year’s ”Thinking Critically about Success” series at LCU.
Dr. Camp came to campus at the invitation of Dr. Susan Blassingame, dean of LCU’s Hancock College of Liberal Arts and Education and coordinator for the Thinking Critically initiative. This effort seeks to foster discussion in the LCU community about important issues that impact the university and the world.
There were three highlights in the lecture that challenged and inspired me.
1. The story of Albert Speer
Dr. Camp related the story of the German architect Albert Speer. Speer was a “successful” family man, working man, and above all, an accomplished architect.
What we as listeners didn’t know until Dr. Camp revealed it was that this successful architect worked for Adolf Hitler. Camp said that Speer’s great failing was just wanting to be a good architect, and not examining who or what he was working for. Apparently Speer never visited Auschwitz, the largest concentration camp he designed for Hitler.
Speer’s life illustrates that, in Dr. Camp’s words, “Self-delusion requires a policy of refusal to give account for one’s life.”
2. The bigger story
Dr. Camp used Speer’s life to reflect on living “a big enough story.” Speer’s big story was to be the best architect he could be. “But isn’t there a bigger story?” Camp asked. We must guard against finding our big story in idols, when there are larger stories to accomplish. “Dare not take all God gives us to bury it in the dirt,” Camp said.
To me, his point was that God gives us tools to be successful in our walk with him. But this means we must take the time to consider our bigger story, which is our relationship with God. Therein lies the success we should strive for.
3. Everyday dangers
Dr. Camp said we need to be aware of everyday dangers in our lives. He tied this to how we might love something or someone wholeheartedly. But as we do that, are we excluding others? Are we loving someone or something to the exclusion of all others? For some, that wholehearted love is for God, or for your faith. But it might also be an idol that isn’t God. Is your love a dangerous love that actually excludes others?
He also said that “danger in a community lies in seeing God.” As he spoke on this, I pictured a wall. On one side of the wall, there is me. On the other side, there is nothing. I realized that on the other side of the wall actually isn’t nothing, but a community of people who believe in God as I do. We need to see God and the right path, but not just as a one-sided perspective. Faith exists on both sides.
As Dr. Camp closed his lecture, he challenged us all to seek the “much more true success to which we all get invited.” That was a reminder to me to strive for this success over all others: the big story of Faith and being welcomed into the Kingdom of God.