Food for Thought: What Does It Mean to Succeed?

Food for Thought: What Does It Mean to Succeed?

by Ardith Hoff

It depends on what your definition of success is.  We traditionally assume that success means having a great career that pays very well.  We all want enough income to provide a comfortable present and a secure future.  Being free of financial worries seems like a pretty good definition of success to most of us.  Some synonyms for success are: to attain, achieve, accomplish, thrive, prosper, flourish, thrive, win, triumph, and grow.

We can divide them into two categories.  One set of words pertains to getting and having and the other set of words refer to feelings.  To attain, prosper, and win, are on the side of getting and having.  Achieve, accomplish, thrive, flourish, and grow are more indicative of how we will feel if we have success. Which is more important to us will determine how we define success.

Each person may have a different definition for what success means to him or her at any given stage in life. Bob Goff has wisely written, "I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I'm more afraid of succeeding at things that don't matter." Love Does, Bob Goff, 2012, p.25

Is it more important to have a lot of money and comfort, or is it more important to feel like we have accomplished something worthwhile?  The two are not mutually exclusive.  Those who get and have can use what they have to do good and those who do good, in spite of not having a lot, can both feel fulfilled.  The key is in doing good.  The Bible directs us to do good, for example in: Galatians 6:9: Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Psalm 37:3:  Trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

Ephesians 2:10: For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should do them.

If success means realizing our hopes and dreams, it is up to us what we hope and dream for, whether for what we can have or what we can give.