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Are you on the road to success?

August 13, 2011
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Road to successWhat would you class as being ‘successful’? What would have to happen during your life for you to be able to say ‘Great, I had a successful life’? I’m working as a doctor’s surgery receptionist at the moment and admittedly it’s not what I expected to be doing after Uni, but it has made me think a lot about the idea of ‘success’. I have found that my ideas regarding ‘success’ are somewhat skewed and don’t reflect what matters most in life and more importantly are not inline with God’s view of ‘success’.

So, let’s have a think – what kind of candidates are there for being able to evaluate a person’s ‘success’? These are just a few that sprung to mind..perhaps career? Qualifications? Money? Financial Security? Popularity? How good we look? People’s good opinions of us?

Obviously having or achieving any these things is not wrong, but the reason I think the idea of defining ‘success’ is important is that often where we think ‘success’ is found is exactly where we will put all of our thoughts, energies, time and efforts, so surely we want to make sure that we’re investing those important things in the right place! I think I can be drawn into thinking of some of these things as ‘success’, particularly to do with jobs and money…At one point it was really bothering me that I didn’t have some kind of grand ‘career plan’; I don’t know what I want to go into…and it really was taking up quite a lot of my time worrying about that and thinking I should have a ‘plan’. But then I thought some more and realised that even if I plan a great career and have a great career, at some point it will end – all of the candidates we came up with for ‘success’ with fade away, they will end when my life does, if not before!

No one’s going to put all of their efforts and energies into spending hours and hours perfectly building a tower of bricks if you know that your toddler’s going to come and knock it over in a matter of seconds…and no one will spend months building and furnishing an immaculate house if you know a flood’s coming tomorrow! We all want to work towards something that matters, something that will last, something of significance…

So, surely if there was something that lasted it would be worth investing our time and efforts in that?! I believe there is just one something, or rather someone, who won’t fade away and will never end – God. So, the thing that matters most in life must be to do with Him. After all, it is God, my maker, rather than me, who will decide whether my life has been a ‘success’ or not…and I tell you what, He won’t be judging it on how well paid I am, or how high up I was in that company (thankfully), or how good looking I am, or how many friends I have; He will be judging my ‘success’ on what I’ve done with Him and His Son, Jesus, who came to make it possible to know Him, whether I’ve been living my life for Him and have been working towards something that will last forever:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” Matthew 6 verse 19-20

Knowing God and having this perspective makes every difference to my attitude and my whole life. It totally reorientates and reorders my life and my priorities. For example, it changes everything at work, because as a Christian I don’t think that the most important thing is what I do for a job, but rather how I do my job – God has put me in the place I’m in and for now that is working in a doctor’s surgery and so, I want to please God, by doing the job in the way he would want me to, so other people can see a glimpse of what God is like and might come to know Him, which is something that will have eternal significance. So, for example, it means trying to be patient when I’m having a busy day and my patience is wearing thin, it means trying to be understanding with the patient who is giving you grief, it means trying to be kind to the patient who is being rude to you …and of course, I fail pretty regularly and that reminds me that true success can’t be found in me being moral or good either, it is only found in trusting Jesus and asking God for forgiveness for all the times I mess up…and asking Him to use me to further His Kingdom and invest my time and energies in things that will truly last!

“You see, if we live with heaven in our hearts, it changes all our plans and goals. It makes us see this world for all that it is and reminds us that this life is not all there is. If heaven really is my destination, I need to think more about making my life count… If I have heaven as my daily reality, then all that matters in my life is how it is evaluated by God. The only affirmation I really need is to hear him say, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant'”(Matthew 25:21) From Empty Arms, by Keren Baker, p.105-6

As ever would love your thoughts on these ideas…

18 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2011 3:31 pm

    If you are happy within yourself, proud of who you are and what you are then by any definition you are successful.

    • Natalie permalink
      August 23, 2011 3:24 pm

      Thanks for your thoughts, Larry. I think that touches on part of what I was exploring, as if it was just down to you, or me, to decide whether our life is successful we could definitely mark it by those things. But I was suggesting that it’s not just down to us to judge our own success, but God has the right to do so.

  2. August 13, 2011 5:53 pm

    Success is having the Lord say, “well done good and faithful servant.” Fulfilling our purpose in life which is to give Him glory.

    Now, having said that, it’s not easy to LIVE it when the world is always “preaching” and marketing to us a different definition.

    • Natalie permalink
      August 23, 2011 2:50 pm

      Thanks Trish 🙂 I totally agree, it is so hard to live what we know to be true when we’re surrounded by loads of different candidates for ‘success’! Guess we have to keep praying and trying to remind ourselves of God’s word and what life is really all about! Again, easier said than done..!

  3. August 13, 2011 6:41 pm

    Success is living a life that honors Him.
    I don’t need to be happy or proud to be successful. In fact I think pride can make success harder to come by.

    I do need to have a Spirit-filled heart and share my joy in my Savior.

    • Natalie permalink
      August 23, 2011 2:51 pm

      Thank you Sheila, I really value your comment. I think it is so true.

  4. August 14, 2011 2:31 pm

    For me, success means having deep and meaningful relationships with others, doing work that is a reflection of who I am and the talents God has given me, and making the lives of others around me better.

    Practically speaking, it would mean making a living through writing, speaking, and personal coaching, doing regular humanitarian work around the world, and having lots of acquaintances and several deep friendships.

    Am I on that road? Well, I think I may be a little closer to that road than I was a few months ago. I’ve finally taken the step toward my dream vocationally with writing and publishing my first book. As for the relationships, still desperately lacking in that area.

  5. August 14, 2011 9:15 pm

    For me, being a success is being a wife that is always there to encourage her husband, inspire her children and to stretch my perceived limitations and cross the borders of my comfort and serve God in whatever capacity He is calling me.

    Great post Mike 🙂

    • Natalie permalink
      August 23, 2011 2:56 pm

      Thanks Jessica 🙂 I think you’ve hit the nail on the head…serving God is definitely crucial for a ‘successful’ life!

  6. Fil permalink
    August 14, 2011 10:17 pm

    Until they were on there way, I never thought i would : have a long term job,
    have a wonderful wife,
    be a born again christian,
    have a house,
    have a daughter,
    then have a son,
    or even have a room full of lads to watch a
    film at our house.
    But they all happened. I don’t feel i deserve them but i do feel enormously blessed because they have happened. That said, if they were all to be taken away tomorrow they still happened and i still didn’t deserve them. The Lord can be the only success because He holds us all in the palm of His hand. The Lord giveth and the Lord can taketh away. Give God the Glory in all things. . . .Heck, where did that come from ?

    • Natalie permalink
      August 23, 2011 2:58 pm

      Thanks Fil 🙂 Really appreciate your thoughts and for highlighting how gracious and loving God is 🙂

  7. wisdomandlife permalink
    August 14, 2011 11:51 pm

    Success means different things to different people. My definition of success is:
    –Being happy in my current set of circumstances.
    –Loving what I do.
    –Having the BEST group of friends I’ve ever had and the single BEST friend I’ve EVER had.
    –Knowing how truly blessed I am

    That’s it. Just those four things are all I need to call my life a success.


    • Natalie permalink
      August 23, 2011 3:21 pm

      Thank you for your thoughts Chris…I think you’ve highlighted a vital point; that success means different things to different people. I think we largely consider success as subjective, but I wanted to explore that and suggest that there’s actually someone bigger than us, who has told us the objective measure of success, which we’ll be measured on.

  8. Savira permalink
    August 15, 2011 12:43 am

    Success…. In relation to what….whom… And why does one have to label it….success?
    I rarely look at my achievements as success as it means there is no growth or moving forward…
    Just my thoughts.

  9. August 21, 2011 8:57 pm

    I often get caught up in this loop of thought in regards to teaching my children. Do I consider good grades, perfect handwriting, spelling and grammar more important than character, condition of their hearts, spirits that are soft and pliable to the will of God and most of all a heart and desire to follow after Jesus. It’s easy to see which is more important — but hard to constantly keep that focus!

    • Natalie permalink
      August 23, 2011 3:01 pm

      Thanks Lisa 🙂 really helpful comment…I think it is so easy to be side-tracked by any number of other things and be distracted from God and from what really matters most. I can only imagine that there’s a whole host of different distractions when you have children too!

  10. January 6, 2012 7:46 pm

    My success always starts with God in the forefront!

  11. Debanjan Banerjee permalink
    January 7, 2012 3:10 pm

    Wish you a very happy and prosperous 2012.

    Very nicely described post Natalie. The picture that you given also is quite nice whereby a small girl is looking to go to her destination without knowing what her destination be.

    My dear Natalie , will any one be able to have the same kind of success that you talk about without sharing your interpretation of Jesus (Peace be upon him) ?

    Peace be with you.

    Take care

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