What Success is Not

Too often we define success with words that denote a goal…

Keys - SkeletonLet’s say that we look for success to bring happiness, love, contentment, riches…

Then we look for the key approach to make these goal’s successful. We search the “get rich quick” schemes, hard work, education, and often think that marrying into a certain strata will make everything perfect.

In books and writings of old I do not find that success defines the result of great searches. In fact, everything I see tells me that we should start out our walk in this world with these things already settled.

Maslow HierarchyOver the life of blogging, I have written about this several times. My mind is not changed. I think that before we gain success we begin life looking and living for basic needs. Maslow defined these as a hierarchical pyramid where our most important foundational needs are broad and very basic to life and living.

Without these needs being met, no amount of “success” will satisfy. My premise is that we need our foundation before we find success, and not that success will build our foundation.

While it is true we often define success with dollar signs, our primary definition should not revolve around what we do not have that we are working toward. This may sound confusing, but I believe we start out with certain strengths, capabilities and mental acuity. What our future holds only clarifies and sharpens this bedrock.

Consider the Apostle Paul’s writing to his protege, Timothy. In fact, if you would read this entire chapter you would find the foundation that I am speaking about.

“But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” ~(1 Timothy 6:6-8 ESV)

See, if success only defines what we acquire, then Paul tells Timothy that he brought nothing with him, and will leave without anything he acquired.

Paul is not telling Timothy to live in some low estate. Rather, contentment comes from who we are before we ever add anything as a result to our search for more.

Do not take this wrong. I believe we are always looking for a better life. Hence, we work hard, study long, and are making the effort to improve our life – if not for ourselves, then at least for the next generation.

Consider the words of one of our founding fathers, John Adams:

“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.” ~John Adams US diplomat & politician (1735 – 1826)

Success, in my words, then is the hard work I do now, prepares the next generation the liberty to build on something different. So, success is achieved by knowing who you are and the values you hold dear – long before you start the trek to help the world for the next generation!

“Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me.” ~(Hebrews 13:5-6 ESV)




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