How Do You Define Success?


Take a minute and think about what success looks like for you? Is it:

  • Having a high paying job?
  • Living in a beautiful home?
  • Acquiring access to influential people?
  • Enjoying a peaceful family life?
  • Fulfilling dreams of traveling the world?
  • Achieving the financial ability to retire?

These are all good things. What if you achieve them? Would you consider yourself successful? I think it all depends on what you do with them and where you give credit for the success. Did your success come from your own hard work and skill, or does your attitude reflect God as the ultimate source of your success?

Defining Success
I recently read a book by R. Scott Rodin called The Steward Leader. I will be honest; it wasn’t an easy read. But the overall message was an interesting perspective about leadership success.

According to Rodin, we become leaders when we respond to God with joyful obedience. God is concerned more with our transformation than with what we can do. Achieving success in leadership and in life requires submission to Him. We must

  • Love God before we can serve.
  • Follow Christ before we can lead.
  • Submit to His will before we can succeed.

Success means a willingness to submit in joyful obedience to God’s will. If I fight for my own way, I set myself up for failure. By giving God control and living out His way, I can’t lose. He will give me success.

A Successful Point of View
Rodin says the following in the context of organizational effectiveness, but I believe it applies to the success of individuals, as well.

When we develop definitions for “success” and “organizational effectiveness,” we must be very careful to ground them in thoroughly kingdom terms and according to kingdom values.

We must do all things out of an understanding of God’s point of view. Otherwise, we will lose sight of our purpose or even cause others to get off track. Jesus recognized Peter’s worldly view in Matthew 16:21-23 when he said, “Get away from me, Satan! You are a dangerous trap to me. You are seeing things merely from a human point of view, not from God’s.”

As Christ-followers, a worldview influenced by in-depth relationship with God is key to success in His kingdom. Rodin writes

In a world that sees everything apart from Christ’s control, people still can see Jesus in the lives of the workers of his kingdom.

Reflecting Jesus and making an eternal impact on the lives of others—that’s what I call success!