There are competing views of success in our world. Achieving success in your life will depend largely on how you define success in the first place. I must admit, my own personal definition of success has changed drastically over the years.
One view of success in the world is measured by victory. We'll call this the Victory School of Thought. If you are in sports or business or any type of competition, success is defined by winning. Interestingly, though, some of the most successful in this category, such as legendary coach John Wooden of the UCLA basketball team, defined success as doing one's personal best and giving full effort toward that end. In his view, winning was a natural by-product of this philosophy. It certainly worked for Wooden. He remains the most successful coach on record in nearly any sport at any level. However, Wooden, even though he was so successful, is still rare in his philosophy. Most consider winning as the true measure of success.
Another view of success involves "capturing" things; whether it be titles, status, recognition, fame, or material possessions. We'll call this the Attainment School of Thought. This is the "He who dies with the most toys wins" philosophy. This view is a close cousin to the Victory School of Thought.
While these two schools certainly have their good points, and victory and some of the trappings of success are not wrong in and of themselves, they do both come with a fundamental flaw. That flaw relates to the real way we human beings are wired and what truly gives us satisfaction. The flaw in the thinking of both the Victory School of Thought and the Attainment School of Thought is that the things of this world can please us, that they are worthy as an end-goal in our lives.
The third and final School of Thought, I believe, is the Eternal School of Thought. Here true success is found. While it is okay to pursue victory in our lives in our professional endeavors (and who among us does not like to win once in a while?), and it is okay to enjoy the rewards of hard work and prosperity, real success is found in filling what one author called "The God-shaped void in our hearts." You see, humans scratch around on the earth, busy about all kinds of things, pursuing all sorts of pleasures and objects designed to bring satisfaction, when the whole time what they are really searching for is a relationship with their Creator. How do I know this? It's what the Bible is all about, and it is what has happened in my own life.
My last post was about Indianapolis Coach Tony Dungy. After reading his book, Quiet Strength, I would recommend it to anyone. And I will pull one more piece from that book to illustrate what I'm talking about here. According to Dungy,
"God's Word . . . presents a different definition of success - one centered on a relationship with Jesus Christ and a love for God that allows us to love and serve others. God gives each one of us unique gifts, abilities, and passions. How well we use those qualities to have an impact on the world around us determines how "successful" we really are."
I love Dungy's definition of success. It focuses on God's grace and what He has done through Christ on the cross, and shows that our grateful response should be one of service to others and sacrifice for God's glory. That is true success. If the other, worldly definitions also happen here and there, so be it. But the world's definitions of success on their own are hollow and lead to increased depravity as people strive for more and more, hoping to fill that "God shaped vacuum" that no amount of
"the world" will fill. Real success comes from that relationship with God through His son Jesus Christ, and living out our days fulfilling, to the limits of our ability, the calling He places on our lives.