A quick Google search of the definition seems fairly simple. In summary, to succeed is to accomplish something, or to reach a certain position in life (of wealth, fame, etc.) that is considered desirable (or to be the person/thing that has achieved these things).
I think there are a few ways we can see success. The first is personal success. An accomplishment that may not mean a great deal to others but is significant to you.
Take this blog, for instance. When I had more time to write and publish, it would attract thousands of visitors a year. This was a blessing and, to me, certainly a success. I never expected to have hundreds of people visit my blog, much less thousands. While I know there are countless blogs and websites that have achieved a great deal more than mine has, I still consider it a success.
The second view of success is far less personal. What was success to me would not be in the eyes of many others. Perhaps if my blog reached hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, (still falling far short of other websites/blogs), I would finally be considered a success. So in this view, success is more determined by other people’s opinions of me and by how my accomplishment compares to similar things.
There’s a problem with both ideas, however. They make people and opinions the main factors in deciding success. With the first, I felt that I had achieved this personally great thing, and therefore my blog was a success. With the second, I rely on the opinion of others to tell me whether or not I have done well enough to be considered a success.
Very often, I find myself desperately hoping to be told by others, in one way or another, that I have succeeded. Caught in the ever changing current of people’s opinions (if they even consider it worth an opinion) is not the most pleasant place to be. And to be subject to my own idea of success isn’t ideal either.
So what does this mean? Is success only available to the few who have caught the public’s hearts and attention, or who are able to see success in themselves?
I’d like to present a third option. Let’s leave our success, or seemingly lack of, in God’s hands. Place it at the foot of the cross.
This may seem an obvious answer (you probably saw it coming), but I’d just like to invite you to consider how this would affect your life. To leave our success to God is to take our eyes off ourselves and place them on Him. The question becomes less of “How does the world see me?” or “How do I see myself?” and more of “How does God see me?”
And God sees a success. Not in the way the world might consider you a success, having achieved something through your own merit or hard work. Instead, God sees the child He lovingly created, the one He laid down His life for. You did not earn it (thankfully, for we cannot) but were given it. You are His success.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:8-10, NIV)
Because of this, everything we do for the Lord is a success. It’s not about how well we do, how “great” it is, or how many people know about it. It’s about living for God. We may or may not achieve the worldly idea of success, but we don’t need to. We are a success in a far more important way. We serve God with our lives, and trust Him to take the things we do and make them great, for His glory and not ours.
This isn’t an easy thing to do. It’s difficult to let go of our own idea of what success should be and take hold of God’s. It isn’t a one time deal either. It’s a daily choice to live our life for Him. To walk with Him and trust Him with our success. Will you take the first step?
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6, NIV)