Defining Success

I think I first developed an affinity for Converse-style runners in kindergarten. I had an orange pair for gym class I would regularly re-lace after putting them on. I remember the teacher’s aide asking me one time why I did that, and all I can recall doing in reply is shrugging my shoulders before continuing with my self-appointed task.

It’s funny the things we’ll remember. (By the way, I still like to have my laces be “even” in my shoes. It’s a measure of success to me, indicative of a good lace-up job having been done. That or I’m marginally OCD. Take your pick.)

Even laces, uneven self-assessments? Check.*

I also remember having a hard time – particularly in high school – figuring out what I was good at. Maybe that’s why I liked re-lacing my shoes so much as kid. There was (to me) a clear measurement, a precise indicator as to whether or not I had successfully completed my task. But figuring out what my skill set was? Not so much. I could never find the “even” ground, tending always to underestimate what I was good at or what I could do because I didn’t want to go too far the other way and overestimate what I could do and set myself up for failure.

So I suppose, in a sense, I purposely failed. Weird, I know. And it’s a resistance I often find myself fighting against – at least until recently. For it has come to my attention I have been wrong in how I have defined and measured success.

For so long I have looked at success as attaining some level of popularity or profit. What that looked like exactly, I couldn’t say. It was never within my grasp. Take this blog, for example. I have deemed myself a failure at it in one form or another mainly because I don’t have high traffic stats or comments.

But is that how success is to look for this blog?

Maybe not – maybe it already is successful and I’m just not seeing it. For what if, as I heard in church yesterday, I began to define success as seeing and seizing a God-given opportunity when it arrives, whatever it may be?

It may not be about “hits” or comments, but instead may be about writing something one person needed to read that day . . . even if I never hear about it. It may be about sitting down, three times a week, and disciplining myself to write something – anything – when I least feel like it. Success could consist of (to loosely quote Winston Churchill) my going from failure to failure (real or perceived) without loss of enthusiasm for stringing together words and telling stories. And also remembering in the process that God, being God, can use even my duds for something good.

Maybe I’m closer to success than I think (and in regards to not only this blog).

Either way, if I don’t push on through the hard times, if I give up as soon as it gets hard or I mess up, then I for sure won’t see it, whatever the “it” is God has for me.

It’s definitely something to think about, to pray about . . . to live out.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.” ~ Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)

*Photo Credit: Raquel M © 2008 (Flickr via Creative Commons)

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