Is there a more loaded word in the English language than “success”? The types of people we like to tag as successful center around a narrow list of characteristics. Money is usually the first marker, followed by acclaim, and then maybe influence.
But am I truly successful because I have money? What about acclaim?
I heard, recently, about social media heroes who have had mental breakdowns trying to handle the pressures of managing their acclaim and influence. Would we say they are really successful if their acclaim leads to destructive thoughts and behaviors?
Peter Scazzero says that, “Success is first and foremost doing what God has asked us to do, doing it his way, and in his timing.” There is nothing about money or fame in his definition. In many ways, money and fame might be easier than Scazzero’s view.
Doing what God has asked us to do requires us to understand scripture and to pray, and most importantly, listen. These tasks are not easy.
Then, when we understand what we need to do we have to do it God’s way and in his timing. This is the part that is most challenging to me. I like to develop a plan, to devise a series of steps, and to begin taking action immediately. So many times, especially over the last few months, I have had to battle my desire to execute my plan, in my way, in my timing. The reality is God often moves slower than I would like and his way of managing a situation may not really look anything like the way I think it should be done. So, even if I am doing what God wants but do it in my own way and in my own timing then I am not being successful at it.. You need all three, God’s will, God’s way, and God’s timing.
So, it goes back to the practices of understanding scripture, developing a listening ear for God, and prayer. Also, I would recommend celebrating small successes and not just focusing on the big wins. This way, we get out of the mode of marking our success by the world’s standards.