|Photo courtesy of nuttakit|
Friday, April 22, 2011
Flailing at Success
Today I was reflecting on success and it brought to mind some of the thoughts I shared a few years ago in my book Becoming Real.
After interviewing people about their definitions of success, author and speaker Denis Haack wrote, "Most people I've asked seem to have little trouble identifying the predominant version [of success] in society: Success means attaining some measure of money, fame, power and self-fulfillment—and then looking the part."
When I first read that, I had to ask myself how much of my life is spent in the pursuit of money? Or fame? Or power? Or self-fulfillment (however you define that)? And then looking the part?
For instance, why do we wear the clothes we do? Or drive the car we do, or live in the house and neighborhood we live in?
"But," I can hear a voice inside of me argue, "I can't afford a nicer car or a better house!"
True. But if I had the money, if I had the opportunity to get a better car, or nicer clothes, or a bigger home, well, admittedly, just like most people, I’d probably get them. After all, in our society, how successful are you—really—if no one notices?
Money. Fame. Power. Self-fulfillment.
It struck me that when I die, God is not going to ask to see my bank account or my 401K plan or my abs. He's not going to ask me how many friends I had on Facebook or if any of my books were New York Times bestsellers or how much I can bench press. But I think he is going to ask me if I was faithful with the gifts, with the ideas, with the time he gave me.
I came across an instance when Jesus said, “A person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God,” (Luke 12:21) and I realized that, for me, whenever my work becomes more focused on accomplishment than on faithfulness, I'm no longer on the road to true success, but am actually on a detour around it.
So, I'm curious. What are the criteria you typically use to measure success? How do you identify or define a successful person? And maybe, most pertinently of all, are you a successful person?