Measure of success


Success. Failure. Both present themselves as our greatest motivators and our greatest fears.

If we measure success only by things achieved, numbers gained, ground acquired, awards won, or influence attained, I think we miss the whole point. The time we have here on this earth, our one lifetime, is meant for more than success measured by those standards. The purpose of our lifetime is a transformational journey of becoming who God created us to be, in His image.

I believe that success and failure are partners with the same end goal….growth. In order to truly measure our success, we have to be willing to embrace our failure. Winston Churchill said it this way:

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.

When we measure success by what we do or what we have, we always find our selves “less than” someone else. There will always be someone who has more money, more fame, more possessions, more authority, or more influence than we do. True success in this lifetime can be measured by who we are.

If growth is our goal, then how we measure success really matters. What if we begin to think about the measure of success in new ways? Here are a few ways we can measure success by a different scale.

  • We measure success by our attitude in the face of failure. – Rather than seeing failure as the end of who we are, we can see it as the launching point to who we will become. We embrace an attitude of enthusiasm, hope, and motivation that this failure teaches us one more lesson we need in our transformation. We appreciate the valuable lesson in it and use that to fuel our growth.
  • We measure success by the contrast of who I was yesterday in comparison to who I am today. – We can choose to wake up everyday, look in the mirror, and ask ourself, “Who am I going to be today?” Our success lies more in the daily choices of who we are than the yearly choices of what we do, where we go, what we have, and how we got there. Regardless of the journey scattered with successes and failures, if we can see significant growth and transformation in who we are, our measure of success is great.
  • We measure success by the depth of our character. – We very well may fail by the standards and measures of others, but if we have done it with true humility, there is a measure of success. We may find ourselves disappointing others or not living up to their expectations, but if we have developed surrender, integrity, and compassion in the process, there is a measure of success. If our character develops and deepens with each disappointment, failure, mistake, and misstep we are achieving success in our life’s journey.

What is your attitude in the face of failure? Who are you becoming? Is your character increasing?How do you measure success?

7 thoughts on “Measure of success

  1. This is exactly what we needed to be reminded of this morning. Thank you for letting God speak to us through His work in you. This has lifted me spirits more than you can ever know. ❤

  2. I love the Winston Churchill quote. It was so freeing when I decided to be okay with failure. The tough part is figuring out how to measure those things you’ve listed, which are all great to strive for.

    Reggie McNeal, in his book “Missional Renaissance”, says the church needs a new “Score card,” and suggests we measure success or failure based on things like encounters with people in real life – even if we don’t mention Jesus every time. This has more to do with the church’s mission and you post is about personal growth, but your post made me think of it.

    • Thanks for your comments Dave. I think the beauty of measuring the intangible is that we can’t. It requires God’s intimate engagement in our lives to be able to measure such supernatural intangibles as attitude, growth, and character! 🙂

      I really connect with the idea of a “Score Card” on the basis of personal and relational encounters! There is a whole heap of transformation in that idea!

  3. Lisa,

    Two points come to mind in reading this blog…

    Sometimes, in out own vain humanity, we view success as conquering or winning, i.e., I got the big promotion, my team won, etc. We want people to recognize and acknowledge that we are the best at what we do. But that kind of success, in the end, never satisfies. We always need another hill to climb. Because of the insatiable hunger of our ego, too many times it doesn’t matter how “successful” we are, it’s never enough. A very public example might be Tiger Woods (not to pick on him, but for the grace of God…). Without question, he is the greatest golfer of his generation. But how many people would say define what he has been through as a successful life?

    In relation to failure, I’m reminded of a time not too many years ago when I was at the absolute lowest point in my life. After a lengthy but difficult marriage, I went through an even more horrible divorce. I don’t need to go into detail here, but suffice to say, at the time, I felt like an utterly,abject, total failure. I specifically remember breaking down crying when someone called and told me that people were praying for me, because I did not even feel that I was worthy of being prayed for. If God had “abandoned” me, why did anyone else care?

    My point is this: Sometimes when people are in such a state or worse, “success” consists only of surviving, of making it until tomorrow. We may not be capable of embracing any attitude whether it be hope, faith or whatever, when all we see is overwhelming dispair.

    I remember being so angry at God at the time. And yet… I also knew from my earlier years without God, that I could not walk away. But for a while, I just sort of kept Him at a distance. My hurts essentially only allowed me to hope for hope someday.

    Over time, God has demonstrated that His grace is clearly sufficient. (My one blog that I’ve written on here so far, dealt more specifically about where He has brought me.) But success may not always be “moving forward”; sometimes it’s just holding on through the storm and not falling back into the dark abyss.



    • Jon, thank you so much for your vulnerability and openness! Your point about our competitive culture and faulty definition of success is spot on. Your story is a very powerful reminder how the road to transformation is paved with pain, sorrow, and doubt.I agree with your point about to “success” of surviving in the midst of a storm and how you stated it….”My hurts essentially only allowed me to hope for hope someday.” The beauty of recovery is the journey that leads us from our darkest moment to faith, hope, and life!

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