Monday, October 19, 2015

What is the definition of success?

I've been pondering the topic of success lately.  First as it pertains to my life, but then that led to how the world and people around me view success, which led me to how God views success. As with most things, God's ways are completely opposite of our ways.  Just a quick read through the stories of the Bible should illustrate that nicely.

God chose an insecure, stuttering murderer to lead His people out from bondage in Egypt
God told Elijah to completely saturate the altar with water until it pooled beneath it and then set it on fire
God instructed the Israelites to march around Jericho 7 times and blow trumpets so the walls would fall down
God took a young arrogant boy, made him a slave, and then elevated him to be prince of Egypt
God told Ezekiel to lie on his side for a year to illustrate the period of time the Israelites sinned
Jesus Himself did some rather unpredictable things:  He took some dirt and spit on it and laid it on a man's eyes to heal him of blindness
Jesus forgave the prostitute and let her go when by the law His Father had given the Jews, she should have been stoned to death

And these are just the ones off the top of my head. I bet you can think of a ton more

The other day I was bemoaning my lack of success. I was talking with Father God and explaining to Him how I'm not really after fame or fortune, but I simply want to be successful in my career. Yes, I have achieved some measure of success but an author's ultimate success is measured on two major things:  Millions of copies sold, and whether he or she has ever made the New York Times Best Seller List! 

It's a completely natural thing for each of us to want to be "successful" in our chosen endeavors, whether that be Motherhood, Home schooling, Driving a truck, Working at a retail store or restaurant, teacher, doctor, lawyer, or engineer.  I believe it's a God-given desire to want to do well, to be applauded for our achievements.

Yet, as I was pondering my lack of success, I heard God's voice within me saying. "Against whose definition of success are you measuring yourself?"  Hmm. Wow.  I had to quickly admit that I was measuring my success by the world's definition.  The world has some very strict definitions of success, doesn't it?  And they all have to do with Fame, Money, Awards, Power, and Prestige.  Famous Actors, Pro-Sport Players, Famous Musicians, Pastors of Megachurches, CEOs of companies, Millionaires, Governors, Congressmen, the President, (authors on the New York Times Best Seller List)  these are the people we hold up as being successful. 

But is that God's definition of success?   And if not, then whose definition should we be measuring ourselves against?, the Creator of the Universe who will be our ultimate judge OR the world system that is fickle, carnal, and passing away?

Jesus told us exactly what God's measure of success is: 
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. John 6:28

And Jesus lived out that measure of success right to a gruesome death on the cross. 

Are you living in complete submission to God's will?  Am I?  Whether we ever achieve "success" by this world's standards doesn't mean a thing in the end when we are standing before God. The only measure of success He will use is the number of times we completely surrendered to His will and did His will over our own.  


  1. Awesome post, my friend. Words to live by. Sharing.....more people need to read this. Hugs!

  2. Goodness, MaryLu! Sometimes I wonder if God whispers something to you just to confirm something He's told me. Happens a lot of times. I asked God this very question this morning, even in tears, and some of the stories you mentioned off the top of your head were brought to mind, too. Wow! Now I know I'm not alone. I feel God pushing me to concentrate on blogging right now (even while I still write), a ministry God has placed on my heart to encourage people (like readers, music/movie lovers) who pay attention to Christian Authors, Artists, and Actors: something I know I wouldn't have bothered with or paid enough attention to, if I were "successful." Thank you for being brave and sharing a piece of your heart, because it surely helped mine. :)

    1. So True, Miranda! I also spend much time doing devotional blogging in addition to an online missionary group and I wouldn't have time for those things if I was "successful" by the world's standards!! Who knows how many people we are reaching? Which is God's true measure of success!

  3. MaryLu, so often you discuss subjects that speak directly to what I'm feeling, like with this post. Thank you for having the courage to share your spiritual and writing journey. You have boosted my spirits and strengthened my faith many times. It's hard to feel inspired when you aren't seeing the results one would expect of a "successful" author, and in those times it's easy to question God. Thanks for your reminder that God's ways are not our ways. Worldly success comes with a price of sacrifice and demands which I don’t really want, so I remind myself to just trust God. He knows the plans He has for us and they are plans for good.

    1. Amen, Lisa! As a fellow author, I know you understand the struggle here. I'm so blessed God used me to boost your spirits and strengthen you faith. Hugs!

  4. MaryLu. You and Katie Weiland are thinking along the same lines this week. (Great writers think alike.)

    1. Hi Ed!!! So great to see you here. :-) Thanks for dropping by. That article by Katie was great. Hope you are well!

  5. Amen, MaryLu!! At my age and stage in life, success - in the eyes of the world - is unlikely, and also unneeded or wanted. What matters is only that I am following His plan for me. Success is reaching others for Him - I have no doubt you and your writing have done that.

    Love, hugs, and prayers!!

    Shared post!!