We all have a picture of what success in life would look like.

There are typical templates. Wealth and riches, prestige, a blissful relationship, a loving family.

It was no different for me. I wanted to be wealthy. I reasoned that if I had wealth, I could protect the interest of the people that I love – how noble!

So when I recently graduated from a local university, I had the same concern as most graduates: How can I secure a job that either pays well, or one that I’m passionate about?

I woke up each morning with the knowledge that my friends would be working – but not me. I felt sour about how my friends were settling happily into their newfound jobs.

I stepped out of university fresh and starry-eyed, ready to secure a respectable job and start earning a decent income.

I initially started with several carefully selected jobs. With each rejection, I would increase the pace and scope of my application process.

Within months, dejection and self-doubt had fuelled my morphosis into a resume-sending machine.

Amid the flurry of applications and the numerous rejections, it didn’t help that I couldn’t help but keep tabs on my peers’ successs in getting employment. The joy they felt at moving from an unwilling bum to a desirable contributing member of working society was shared on social media posts, during catch-ups, or – ironically – when they whined about a tough day at work.

Each time I congratulated my friends, I couldn’t help but to feel a tinge of bitterness well up from the depths of my heart. It felt as if I was being left in the dust as my peers stride forward into the next phase of their lives.

I woke up each morning with the knowledge that my friends would be working – but not me. I felt sour about how my friends were settling happily into their newfound jobs.

My pride had been bruised, my self-worth challenged. I was bitter and afraid. I feared that at this rate, I may have to feed on grass like a cow for my meals in the near future.

It was plain that I had placed too much weight on attaining prestige and wealth.

In the same way, those of you who do not give up everything you have cannot be my disciples. (Luke 14:33)

The Scriptures regularly highlight the cost of discipleship. For example, also see Matthew 10:38, Luke 9:23 or Luke 14:26. But how many of us are truly prepared to place the pursuit of God over all our other desires?

Some aspirations and desires can even be made to sound virtuous. But no matter how innocuous these desires are, if we are unwilling to give them up for God, then we should really begin to ask ourselves whether we have God in our hearts. For where our treasure is, there our heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).

In Mark 10:17-31, Jesus invites a wealthy man to follow Him – on the condition that he sells everything that he had and gives it all to the poor.

I never could figure out the rich man’s mindset. How can material wealth be compared to an invitation from the Son of God Himself! I would have dropped everything and followed Jesus in a jiffy … or so I thought.

Whatever it is our picture of success looks like – a decent career, a life partner, a wonderful family, whatever – if these desires take priority over our passion for God, then we’re declining Jesus’ offer to follow Him.

Now, I get it. The last few months have taught me the truth about the importance I place in my worldly pursuits. I can’t be absolutely confident to say that I wouldn’t have made the choice the rich man did.

Whatever it is our picture of success looks like – a decent career, a life partner, a wonderful family, whatever – if these desires take priority over our passion for God, perhaps we, too, are declining Jesus’ offer to follow Him.

If you’re wondering: After months of applications, I’ve finally secured a job offer. I no longer have to worry about the prospect of chewing cud for my meals.

But now, as I step forward into the next phase of my life with equal parts eagerness and trepidation, my prayer and earnest hope is that one day I would be able to declare with certainty that I am a man who goes all out for God.

That I would give it all up for Him.