Everyone defines success differently. For some it’s money. Others? Family, stability, titles, degrees.
But no matter how you define it, there are two traits you must possess in order to achieve your definition of success. What are they?
Faith and perseverance.
For the first, faith, I’m not explicitly invoking God but rather implicitly. What I mean is that if you don’t believe you can succeed, you won’t. I had this very discussion with my seven-year-old who said, “I never get 100 percent on my spelling tests.” And he was quite distraught about it. He thought because he had never achieved a perfect score that he could not do it in the future. As a result, what chances do you think he had of ever spelling all twenty-five words right?
You must believe your definition of success is possible, you must have faith that you can do it. If this sounds humanistic, I apologize. It's not meant to be. Your faith in yourself must be grounded in God. Meaning through Him, you can achieve your goals. I don’t believe I can do anything good on my own. It is only by the grace of God that I am even alive.
The second, perseverance, is also essential to success. Why isn’t faith enough? Your faith will wane. There will be times when you don’t believe as strongly as you once did, when odds seem stacked against you or your family or your church. It may be hard to believe in those dark times that you will succeed, but dogged determination will carry you through.
The gospel of Mark recounts the failure of Jesus' disciples to heal a demon-possessed boy. The father brought them his son, believing they could heal him as they'd done many times before. When Jesus arrives and the father explains the situation, Jesus says, "Everything is possible for the one who believes." And in response the father says something interesting:
I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief. (Mark 9:23-24)
You see belief isn't always black and white. The man obviously believed the disciples could heal his son, or he wouldn't have brought him in the first place. But when they failed, his faith began to wane. The father, in the same breath, both affirmed his faith and recognized that his faith wasn't as strong as it should be.
When you come to this moment your choices are to give up, or to persevere. If your definition of success is congruent with God's, what choice do you have but to persist?
|Photo by Quino Al|
To this point I would consider my life a success, but I have not achieved all that God has called me to do. And, quite frankly, I don’t think anyone has as long as he or she is alive. God’s not done molding you into the man or woman He wants you to be. It’s your job to allow Him to form you, all the while believing that you "can do all things through him who strengthens [you]" (Phil. 4:13). And at the same time allowing "perseverance [to] finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (Jas. 1:4).