How do you personally define success?
Or, when you think of success, what comes to your mind?
Over the years my definition of success has been altered quite a bit.
As a teenager, success meant scoring 36 points in a basketball game and getting my photo in our local newspaper.
As a college student, it was getting up for class on time.
As a young employee, success was moving up in the company.
As a young business owner, it was having no limits put on my effort.
As a mother, it was raising my children in the ways of God.
As one who achieved much in my career, success sadly became something I worshiped. It turned into accomplishing more, acquiring more, earning more money, working harder, dreaming bigger, and doing whatever it took to accomplish the next goal.
But something happened within me a number of years ago when I began to serve in a local ministry who helped the formerly incarcerated, the homeless, and others in need.
The success trap I had fallen into didn’t fit in with my service there. What I considered “successful” wasn’t found in that kind of humbling work. Little did I realize, my ideas began to change as God began to change me.
Success had nothing to do with me, and everything to do with Him.
This change happened gradually. But, the moment I saw a former colleague’s social media post about achieving her next diamond ring as I had minutes prior prayed with a man struggling with addiction, success had become much more than I ever thought it could be. I knew then my diamond-ring-earning-days had come to an end.
Success took on an entirely new meaning in my life.
Success can be different for each of us. I believe it can depend on where we are in life and at what stage we find ourselves in. It depends on our faith journey, and if we have one at all. It may depend on our past experiences and how life has shaped us.
One thing I’ve learned, however, is God’s view of success is often different than ours.
Only by humbling ourselves will we be exalted.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:10 ESV
Success comes when we submit to God and respond to His will.
Commit your works to the Lord [submit and trust them to Him], And your plans will succeed [if you respond to His will and guidance]. Proverbs 16:3 AMP
Our souls are more important than earthly successes.
Look, does it make sense to truly become successful, but then to hand over your very soul? What is your soul really worth? Matthew 16:26 VOICE
Success comes from trusting God, and not ourselves.
My son, never forget the things I’ve taught you. If you want a long and satisfying life, closely follow my instructions. Never tire of loyalty and kindness. Hold these virtues tightly. Write them deep within your heart. If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself. Proverbs 3:1-5 TLB
No, there’s nothing wrong with earning and acquiring and succeeding in this life. But let’s do it according to God’s plans and not our own.
What are your thoughts on success? I’d love to read them below.