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Being an avid (and quite amateur) aficionado in both cinema and at-home baking, the perfect storm, in my estimation, is the 2009 film Julie & Julia. It is a quaint, if somewhat forgettable little romp with a perfect Meryl Streep performance and numerous food-montages that have left me quite literally drooling on each subsequent viewing.
There happens to be one montage in particular that stands above the rest. In this scene, Julie Powell (a New York food-blogger) is documenting the many highs of Julia Child’s recipes. She concludes that the singular ingredient that, without fail, guarantees the success of each dish is always, always butter. I would argue that desserts never go wrong with a dash of cinnamon either, but butter is the undisputed, triumphant king. Who dares question it?
When it is hearty and rich; it is butter. When it is silky and smooth; it is butter. When it is the perfect marriage of salty and sweet (easily the best combo); butter is usually the culprit.
As you are surely aware, this is a bit of a loose rule, but it isn’t without merit. Not only merit either, it is also quite an established guideline that guarantees and brings home the success of the dish.
This perhaps best illustrates the principle of ingredients to a fruitful and fulfilling life.
You see, Solomon penned a good portion of the book of Proverbs. Being himself the wisest man to ever live (and one who sadly didn’t often follow His own poetry), he was quite bent of communicating to his sons what it takes to find a life of quantity and quality.
Proverbs 3, above the rest, seem to have passages that will be most familiar, but it is only in one small passage, 3:3, that we find our criteria. In verse 4, the author communicates that these previously mentioned, two ingredients, when truly respected, integrated, and followed, secure success before God and man alike.
So. what, pray tell, are these two essential ingredients?
- Loyalty: Steadfast Love
The Hebrew term for steadfast love is the word hesed. It is a term most often associated with kindness, generosity, but it is often painted in the canvas of loyalty. It is perhaps most documented in the story of Ruth in which Ruth’s kindness, gentleness, and service to her mother-in-law Naomie would mean nothing if it wasn’t in regards to a committed and long-term kindness. “Where you go, I will go” Ruth cries (1:16).
Solomon is communicating that an integral part to a young man or woman’s life starts with their ability to commit to and hold onto something to the end.
It should come as no surprise that our society is constantly in an ocean of identity crisis. With every new phase and each new technological discovery, existentialism and the possibility of anything and everything is forcing this generation to question if they can find the perfect possible option, outcome, degree, career, personality, sexuality, soul-mate, etc.
Sometimes the simplest, most basic ingredients are the ones that bring the most assurance of mind. Solomon’s ancient promise that a man or woman who masters the art of committing to something (whether initially perfect or not) and holding onto it forms a path for true success.
- Dependability: Faithfulness
The Hebrew word for my English faithfulness seems to be mostly communicating the concept of reliability or stability, and therefore seem to equate to dependability. A person who is trustworthy, a person who does what they say they will. A person who, essentially, follows through with their commitments.
At the risk of overgeneralizing, it feels safe to say our generation has found a new ease in canceling plans and dropping out of responsibilities since the Covid era. That is not to begrudge the necessity for boundaries and tending one’s mental-health needs, but it is quite clear to see the correlation between a lack of following through and failing to find passion in meeting basic responsibilities.
It’s easy to see the close-proximity of both ingredients in finding success and quality of life in the long-run. A person ought to be a committed and loyal person, but likewise that person must be one of noble character who follows through with their word. They ought to be dependable and reliable. Will they be true to their commitments? Will they keep their end of the bargain?
Solomon gives the formula to success in these simple ingredients.
Therefore, the negative takeaway and relevant inference seems to be that the man or woman who never finds (or settles for) anything worthy of commitment nor being dependable for, is a person who will continue to deprive an essential component of his or her soul and life-quality.
Do you wish to find success? Do you wish for a fruitful life rather than one that leads to emptiness? Solomon’s ingredients pave the way for a well-rounded, fruitful life.
As with butter, all ingredients have contingencies and rules for use. I wouldn’t dare waste butter on cold, watery lettuce, for instance, even though it is a reliable ingredient. So too is dependability, and especially loyalty. In order to best find the places and opportunities that will most reward our ingredients, the young man or woman ought to learn to discern where to use their commitment and reliability. They ought to find One in whom such qualities and pursuits are worthy of them.
If you are such a one in search of such a pursuit, allow us to be a help as we allow God to form the path to eternal and earthly success for each of us.
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3 thoughts on “Two Surefire Ingredients that Guarantee Success”
Great post! I love the comparison of the essential ingredients for a fruitful and fulfilling life to cooking with butter. It’s interesting to think about the importance of loyalty and dependability in today’s society. My question is, how do you suggest we teach the younger generation the value of commitment and following through with their word in a world that seems to prioritize instant gratification and constant change?
Thank you so much for reaching out! That is a tremendous (and heavy) question. I believe the answer is both simple and complex. I believe it is ultimately up to families and parents (or those who take on guardianship) to exemplify and instill these principles into the younger generation. They must see within families and church-leaders the example of commitment, hard work, and dedication to both craft and biblical values. Clearly, the issue becomes more complex when we are discussing the continual decline for those outside our home-reach, and while that can feel hopeless, even for those outside our home, the principles are similar. At the risk of oversimplifying, it is merely the primitive (and biblical) consistency of seeing and experiencing committed marriages, expectations and obligations to committing to school and work requirements, opportunities (and initially, demands) for volunteering and service in areas they initially wouldn’t prefer (but will see the worth in the long-run), and finally, hard work rewarded, etc. that will be the basics to re-instilling these within our kids and this generation. As you suggested, these qualities are becoming a lost art today. It should motivate us, as the body of Christ, to all the more be lights and examples to a world that is rapidly contrasting these truths. Because light and dark don’t mix, a final word on this; we do not owe the world anything with our children. If phones or activities or social media (etc.) is a contributing factor to our children’s decline, they needn’t be consistent factors in our children’s lives period.
Thank you for your detailed answer. Far too few people are prepared to work at something for very long, even if they see the end result is worthwhile.