How Do You Define Success?

How do you personally define success? This was a question that was asked in a self-development blog post I read recently ( Most of us want to be successful. The problem is that many folks haven’t sat down and defined what is success for them. This is an important step, especially for the Christian. To put this in perspective, imagine you were running a race, but you didn’t know how long it was and you had no idea where the race ended. How exactly do you run that race? Do you sprint or do you jog? Which direction do you head off in? If we’ve not taken the time to determine what would equate to success for ourselves, that’s exactly what we’re doing in life.

And it’s not too hard to see how things go from there. Since we’ve not defined personal success, we start listening to the world around us, and we start going after things that sound like they mean success. But the problem with those things is we’ve never asked ourselves if those are really our goals. Will we feel a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction if we somehow reach them? Is the prize worth the journey we have to take to get to them? So we’re rushing around willy-nilly with no clear direction in mind, not sure if we’re actually doing anything that will feel is rewarding, striving after all of this as the days and hours tick by. This is crazy, but so many folks fall into it. Even if we have well-defined goals, we could still fall into this situation if we don’t keep a clear eye on what we’re trying to do. I think all of us fall into this situation from time to time.

“But now I come to You; and these things I speak in the world so that they may have My joy made full in themselves. I have given them Your word; and the world has hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. For their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they themselves also may be sanctified in truth. I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me.” – John 17:13-21, NASB

This is Jesus Christ’s prayer for us. These are some of the things He asked the Father for, for us. And if we look at it closely, we can see Christ’s expectations for us. We may have other goals, but certainly the expectations He has laid out for us should be how we define success. He is our Lord and Savior. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And He knows that without Him we will never feel satisfied, we will never be complete, we will never be whole. So what are some of the things He asked of the Father?

  1. We have His joy.
  2. We not be of the world.
  3. We be protected from Satan.
  4. We are sanctified by the Word.
  5. We are carrying out His mission, just as He carried out the Father’s mission.
  6. We are one in body with each other.
  7. We are one in spirit with Him.
  8. We help the world believe that Jesus Christ was sent from the Father.

None of that sounds like the goals we typically hear about. Nothing about wealth. Nothing about being able to retire early. Not a word about rising to great fame and fortune. Not a mention about having a killer crossover dribble or a “laser, rocket arm.” There’s nothing about comfort. There’s not a shred about an easy life. It’s about being made holy by God’s Word, about being one Body of Christ, about a strong and sustained relationship with our God, about being protected from the Enemy, about finding the joy that can only come from God, and taking the Gospel to the world.  This is true success, success that has eternal meaning and duration. How very far this is from most people’s definition of success!

As I grow older in the faith, I see that the things that I once grasped after and pursued just don’t hold much meaning. This list of eight is powerful. God is telling me exactly what I need to do to be a success in His eyes. And God’s judgment is forever. So it behooves me to go after these things and the other things God identifies in Scripture as important. And the more I’ve pursued these goals from God’s Word, the more I’ve defined and pursued success based on the way He has defined it, the greater the satisfaction I have felt. How do you personally define success? Does it match up to how God does?


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