“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.”
Back to defining success… Being the nerd that I am, I decided to pull out the dictionary and see what the actual definition of success is. According to my friend Webster, success is the achievement of something desired, planned, or attempted. This seems slightly vague to me. Doesn’t that definition come across as being very subjective? People desire, plan, or attempt all kinds of things, and almost everyone “achieves” something, even if it’s just stumbling out of bed in the morning. Does that mean everyone is successful?
I decided to test my theory by asking several different people how they define success. (I even resorted to using my Facebook status!) I asked everyone from my family to my students to my Facebook friends, and I received a variety of responses. My younger survey subjects had pretty straight answers… success is making an “A” on a test, or winning a game. Their answers really made me think about what our society is teaching children, even at a very young age. Do they really believe they can only experience success by winning all the time? What happens if their team loses by one point, or if they make a “B”? Does that make them unsuccessful?
The rest of the responses that came my way basically fell into two groups. The first group had to do with happiness. Most people said that success is a result of personal contentment, being happy with the person you are and what you’ve done. However, the second group was centered around being all that God has called you to be. Success comes from having a servant’s heart, working for others, and bringing glory to Him through your life.
I think I fall in a third category… I think success is being completely filled with and fulfilled in Christ. If I live a life in which it isn’t about me, a life where I don’t live but He lives through me, others will be helped and He will receive the glory. And if I’m living this kind of life, how can I be anything but happy, and content, and at peace?
I’m currently reading Max Lucado’s book titled, It’s Not About Me. Lucado points out that our success only comes from God, and that He gives us that success in order to glorify Him. We will experience success at some point in our lives. God has given each of us gifts to use for His glory. The catch is to remember that our success is because of Him and for Him, and that without Him we are nothing.
When I look back on what I’ve accomplished so far in my life, I am filled with regret about how many times I missed an opportunity to let Christ shine. I’ve had to learn some lessons the hard way, and God has taught me that even if I have absolutely nothing or no one, He is all I need. Being completely fulfilled in Him is the greatest success anyone can ever experience.
So what have I learned through all of this seeking? I’ve learned that the answers to our questions are always found when we look in the right place… God’s Word. In the book of Proverbs we can find a great summary of success… “True humility and fear of the Lord lead to riches, honor, and long life.” -Proverbs 22:4 (New Living Translation) I pray we all find strength in Him to fight the temptations of succumbing to society’s expectations for success, and instead find our success in living lives focused on bring glory to God.