Defining Success

February 17, 2011 — 1 Comment

Tomorrow we have an all-day staff retreat with the staff of New Vintage Church. We’re going over the master calendar, talking through some leadership principles, spending time in nature (weather permitting) and talking about our personal measures of success.

Andy asked the us a week ago, “How do you define success?” He said, “Be very careful how you define that for yourself. Somewhere along the way someone defined success for me. In seminary a professor said that a church of 1000 is a very successful church. I let that define me for way too long. My definition of success has drastically changed.”

So, I’ve been thinking about it. What does it mean to be successful? One definition I found is: having succeeded or being marked by a favorable outcome. I like this definition because it’s not about hitting a benchmark or some arbitrary number, or cash amount… it’s simply “favorable.” But even this definition seems to be lacking something.

I feel like success that is defined by results is partially dependent on things outside my control. Sure, if I work hard, I will be rewarded… but sometimes despite how hard you work, the economy tanks and you’re out of work. I don’t want circumstances to define any part of my “success.” If I’m going to measure success I think it has to be more internal, character-driven. It has to be more about who you are becoming than what you’ve done.

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters. – Colossians 3:23

The attitude of working for the Lord changes how I work. It changes how I interact with my family and friends. What if every interaction was used for the glory of God?

So my success is “to live as if I’m working for the Lord, not for man” in every area of life.

Am I always successful? No. But I’m thinking more deliberately because I’m not letting life happen to me, I’m an active participant.

What’s your definition of personal success?