Pro Athletes. Movie Stars. Artists. Designers. Grammy Winners. What do all of these people have in common? Success. By the twenty-first century world's standards they have all achieved success. What is the key? How did they find it?
I spent the first 10 years of my professional business career striving to be successful. I hunkered down, paid my dues and earned my seat at the Executives table. And while I learned a great deal from all of the experiences in the business world, there was so much the business world could not fill in my life. Business success left me longing for more.
As a company president my adrenaline thrived on the endless to do lists, fires that needed to be put out, employee issues to resolve and confronting challenges with suppliers. As time went on, my adrenaline ran out. I became worn and ragged in my efforts to be successful.
In order to be successful did I have to wear myself out? Was that the key? Did I have to put my work before my family? Was that what it would take? I began a debate within my soul asking, "was success really worth it?" Was being successful worth not knowing my daughters? Was being successful worth having a mediocre relationship with my spouse? Did work success have to come at the expense of everything else that was lovely and good in my life?
Was this the only way?
Over time my questions began to change from "how do I succeed" and "what is the key to success" to "why do I feel the need to succeed", "why am I trying to prove myself" and "who am I trying to prove my worth to?"
I began to discover that my drive for success was all about my lack of self esteem. It was about my need to feel worthy and valuable. Success in and of itself is not bad to aim after, but for me striving, achieving excellence, was my way of feeling worthy of love and respect.
Deuteronomy 6:11-12 (GNT) says, "The houses will be full of good things which you did not put in them, and there will be wells that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant...make certain that you do not forget the Lord who rescued you from Egypt."
These verses from Deuteronomy hit me square in the face. I am, we are, beneficiaries of the goodness of God. In all of my striving to be "someone" and "accomplish something" I had forgotten God. But it was and is He who opens the doors to success. Period. I don't have to prove myself worthy to Him. He calls me daughter. He says I am valuable.
If you ask me, the key to success is not picking the right lottery number, or putting in eighty hour work weeks but instead knowing the one who paved the way and never forgetting what He saved us from, and what He has promised us in eternity. Recognizing this takes a lot of pressure off of us to perform. It becomes less about our abilities and more about God's provision and timing.
Striving to reach the ever moving bar of success has become a faded dream. Today, I work hard. I have dreams and ambitions I am working toward. But these dreams and my work, do not own my life and they do not define my value or worth. When my dreams come true, it will be all because God has paved the way before me, and He will receive the Glory!
What is your relationship with work like? What are you striving for? Is there something in your life you are forcing, pushing, or constantly pursuing but are unsure it is really what God has for you? Why are you striving? What bar of success are you after? Will it fulfill you?
In all of your efforts, do not forget who paved the way for you, and who fills your life with good things. But most of all, successful by the world's standards or not, you are worthy, and you are valuable.