Defining success: God’s way or our way?

According to Wikipedia, “Success may refer to: Attainment of higher social status, Achievement of a goal, for example academic success, The opposite of failure”.

I love this compilation of famous quotes about success at the following link. 50 Great Thoughts on Success

Stick with me though, because my thoughts may surprise you.

According to Richard Branson, success is doing what you want to do and getting others to help you do it (basically).

Anita Toddick’s definition is… who knows?! Destiny, personal journey… peaches flying through space with glitter and bandanas??

Zig Ziglar’s sounds like a cop out, it’s in the trying not the triumph… Umm I don’t think so—that’s a different word!

(And who are these two people anyway?!)

George Bernard Shaw—no offense George but what exactly are you trying to say? I don’t understand. It would be a success to decipher your literary code!

And where is Brian Tracy?

Deepak Chopra and Maya Angelou, I’m sorry but how much is enough… and please don’t quote Oprah to me!

It just gets worse!

Steve Jobs quote just makes him sound like an arrogant so and so, and Carrie Fisher, well I dont know about you but I think a good definition of success would be when I can nap anytime and anywhere and the money is still rolling in by the million… umm, yep, Carrie try again!

So, according to most of these “famous” people success is about ourselves… interesting, isn’t it?

Achieving your goals
Being your best
Visualising your dream
Attaining your heights
Reaching your destiny

Many of today’s “famous” “thought leaders” make me want to vomit!

It’s easy to motivate and inspire (and dish out crowd-pleasing sentences that say/mean nothing) when you’re pocketing a million dollars a second.

Mmm…

So, let’s see where I can find more substantial and solid definitions of success, ones that I can actually understand or at least apply in my life.

After all I don’t have a starting budget of $100,000 to buy success, or a rich anyone to finance me!

Success according to God!

Success, according to God, a much better source in my opinion, and really the only true authority, is to:

“Observe what the LORD your God requires: Walk in his ways, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go.” (1 Kings 2:3)

So the first thing He says about success is that it’s not about focusing on what I want, it’s what He wants that should be my focus. It’s not about doing things my way, it’s His way I should be following.

Let’s see what else He says.

“Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3)

So success according to God happens when you commit what you do or plan to do (everything) to Him. But what does that mean?

My understanding is that it means telling Him what you plan to do, including Him every step of the way, talking to Him about it and asking Him to help you. It’s about giving up the control and trusting that He will come through, and, even if He takes you on a tangent from where you started, it’s about continuing to include Him and trust Him.

(Note: it is much harder to do the above than “follow your destiny” or “do what you love and see success happen”! Perhaps you can already begin to see that the world’s thought leaders’ definitions of success are really just ego-centric words to motivate our hunger for self-gratification.)

The right “success” is to include God in our life strategy.

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.” (Psalm 1:1-3)

Interesting isn’t it that success, according to the One who created it, is focusing on Him day and night!

Then after God defines for us what success really is, I love that He reminds us that it’s all in vein if at any point we forget Him.

“But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.” (Deuteronomy 8:18)

So, He says that we’re to do what He wants, follow His way, tell Him everything we’re doing and plan to do, trust Him and ask for His help, not forget about Him at any time in our “success” cycle and finally…

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11)

…show Him that we can handle success honestly, humbly, graciously and honorably towards Him so that we can look beyond the here and now.

So God, the ultimate authority, defines success as:

  • Success is focusing on God.
  • Success is doing what God wants, His way.
  • Success is including God in everything.
  • Success is asking God about everything.
  • Success is trusting God in everything.
  • Success is never forgetting God.
  • Success is being trustworthy with what He gives us.

Success is knowing that God has it all covered, that we never will without God, and that we will never need to if we follow His definition of success.

It’s the best definition I’ve found of success and I believe it’s the only right one. Because the One who created all those people, created success too—and that’s a pretty decent resume!

Thank you God that You created man and gave us the desire to learn and develop our minds and our lives. Help us to achieve success according to Your definition and not according to our own wrong thoughts, or the world’s skewed perspective. Help us to focus on You, follow Your ways, include You, trust You, be trustworthy and most importantly never forget You, as You have never forgotten us.

In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

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