The Measure of Your Success
Do you feel successful in your life? If so, why? If not, why not? How is it evolving or even eroding in these present circumstances? What is the measure of your evaluation?
Sadly, many evaluate success by false standards or subjective feelings. Neither is a true measure. When life gets upended we are wise to step off the treadmill of an overachieving life and take another look at where we are really headed and why.
The external, materialistic measures of this world are ultimately temporal and meaningless. King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4:28-37) paraded the success of his skill, position, and wealth only to face the fragility and emptiness of this approach. He is but one of countless examples of those who achieved and accumulated only to still find a huge hole in the soul, overwhelmed with confusion and dissatisfaction. The Bible is full of reminders that our net worth is not a primary indicator of our self-worth.
The Bible is full of reminders that our net worth is not a primary indicator of our self-worth.
Likewise, our self-assessments of success are often very limited and short-sighted. Like Mr. Holland in the film Mr. Holland’s Opus, who felt very insignificant only to suddenly realize the amazing impact of his life – we, too, can lose sight of the real goal among the fog of the daily grind.
I heard a definition of success many years ago that I have never forgotten. It tells us that “success is when the people who know you best respect you the most.” While we cannot measure this ideal of success we certainly can embrace and pursue it for our gain, others’ good, and God’s glory.
I heard a definition of success many years ago that I have never forgotten. It tells us that “success is when the people who know you best respect you the most.”
Why is this definition important? I see several reasons. This kind of success values people over productivity. Those who neglect or disregard people in their hot pursuit of the almighty dollar, the bigger organization, or the next prominent title really do lose in the contest of life. They have traded the temporal things in exchange for the eternal value of souls. Jesus reminds us that, like Him, we are not here to be served (in pursuit of personal ambitions) but to serve and give our lives away for the needs of others – especially those who know us the best. When our quest for the goal leaves a wake of wounded souls and broken hearts, we have lived a very misguided life.
This definition elevates integrity over impressiveness. We all know the allure of living an “impressive” life where the crowds, the customers, and the clients all sing our praises. But the emptiness of knowing that the real substance of our life is unraveling behind the scenes is tormenting. I think the proper balance is found in the familiar quote, “If it doesn’t work at home, don’t export it.” Success starts at the core of who we are, the people we relate to most closely, and the life we conduct when the crowds are not tracking us.
Success starts at the core of who we are, the people we relate to most closely, and the life we conduct when the crowds are not tracking us.
Most importantly, this kind of success elevates God’s glory over ours. In our own fleshly talent, personality, and determination we can all “succeed” at a lot of things. Only Christ, by His grace and indwelling power, can shape a life of highly respected and truly genuine character. As Jesus said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing… By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:4, 5 & 8). The pathway to real success prioritizes fruitful abiding over frenetic activity.
The pathway to real success prioritizes fruitful abiding over frenetic activity.
How do we progressively journey toward this destination of success? First, we must live in daily spiritual reality. The inner man must be renewed day by day so that we do not conform to the values and visions fed to us by a superficial society. Instead, we are empowered to live out of a transformed “core “engaged each day from glory to glory in the reality of His indwelling presence and inspired Word.
Second, we must live with regular relational conscientiousness. We’ve heard the wise advice about keeping short accounts. We do this by regular self-honest confession of our sins and failures toward God (1 John 1:9). We also must do it by making sure that all offenses on our part and any harbored bitterness toward others are addressed with the daily resolve of a clear conscience. Paul said, “I myself always strive to have a conscience without offense toward God and men.” Jesus warned against our tendency to go through the motions of a religious life without a radical commitment to value authentic relationships (Matthew 5:24). When we fail to do this, not only are we miserable inside but we drain our reserve of respect in rapid fashion. I learned a long time ago that my kids did not expect me to be perfect; they just needed me to be honest and make things right when I wasn’t.
Also, we must live with ever conscious Spirit-controlled consistency. Really, a life where those who “know us best respect us the most” can only occur under the moment-by-moment control of the Spirit of Christ. He produces the fruit of a respectable life in us (Galatians 5:22-25). The portrait of a successful life is painted from the palette of the Spirit’s love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Left to ourselves, we are all disrespected messes. Under His control, we can be an immense blessing to others – especially the ones who know us best.
The portrait of a successful life is painted from the palette of the Spirit’s love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Left to ourselves, we are all disrespected messes.
So, here’s to your success. May it be real and rewarding for you and the ones who love you – and want to help you succeed.
Copyright © 2020 Daniel Henderson. All rights reserved.