Redefining Your Definition of Success
If you had to paint a picture of success, what would it look like to you? Would it look like working in a high-level career where you’ve finally snagged the corner office? Would it look like total financial freedom — being able to do whatever you wanted, when you wanted with your money? Or maybe it looks like having your dream house, husband, and family.
For so long, I had a similar definition of success. To me, success looked like being at the top of the coaching industry, having a profitable business, and being able to work in ministry all while having an intimate relationship with my husband and family. I would look at the lives of my favorite ministry leaders and business owners and crave their lifestyle thinking, “This is the kind of life I want to live. I want their success.” They were my inspiration, what I aspired to be. But although I had great aspirations, they weren’t exactly biblical.
Many of us unknowingly fall prey to defining our success in biased, unattainable, and unbiblical ways— especially when we are basing our success on other people’s lives, standards, or even our own uninformed expectations. Comparing and measuring our lives to others is like linking ourselves to a moving target rather than something that is concrete and actually attainable. This is what the comparison game paired with distorted expectations do. They trick us into believing that we will only be happy or all of our problems will go away once we have or attain success. They condemn us to believe that we’ll be successful once we do everything right, pray a certain way, or be this “perfect” Christian or women of God. These are such falsified definitions of success.
In order to find true fulfillment, we must redefine our definition of success to align with God’s. God has a much simpler, unrestricted definition of success. When you move from a worldly definition of success to a Kingdom one, success is about stewardship -- making the most of what you’ve been given. We can see in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-30), that the servants' success was all about taking care of what their master had given them. When the master reviewed their efforts, he didn’t compare them with one another; he compared their results to the resources he’d given them. He measured their results to how well they stewarded their resources. God measures our success in the same way. He’s reviewing how we are stewarding our gifts, talents, and everything else He has given us to pursue our purpose and build His Kingdom. How well are you stewarding what He’s given you?
When we define success in terms of stewardship, this releases the pressure to strive and perform. It means that we don’t have to attempt to be anyone that we’re not. Our only focus and concern is completing what God has given us to do, our unique assignment. We don’t have to compare our assignments to anyone else’s. Just like in the parable of the talents, they’ve been assigned based on what we can best handle. This is how we redefine our definition of success. And when we do, life becomes less of a competition and more of a communion where we are at peace and harmony with ourselves and one another. But success is not based on stewardship alone.
The other side of the success spectrum has to do with who you are. To God, success is more about becoming who He has called you to be than doing the right things. By becoming all He has you designed you to be you’re more able to do what He has called you to do because doing flows out of being. So the question is: who are you? When you define success in terms of being, this also releases the pressure of having to be in a certain role or place in your life. Instead of thinking about where you’re not, what you haven’t done, or what you’ve even failed at, your definition of success looks like evolving more into the woman He has designed you to be.
True, biblical success is nothing like the world’s way. If you’re defining your success using the world’s definition, you will always be striving and comparing your life to the next person. But God’s way frees you to focus on exactly who He has designed you to be and where He's called you to. Let that determine what you define as success.