Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Measure of Success

"I wish I could get it right," lamented my ten year-old son as we drove his sister to piano lessons.

He had made a mistake in judgement, but it was hardly worth getting worked up about.

I chuckled to myself. I hear you God.

Over the last few days I had been lamenting. Different words, but same answer. Today my heart was groaning about it. And today, God decided to speak perspective to my heart — through my son and two different writers.
Because the culture we breathe and work in rushes against rest. It equates our worth with production and wealth and fame. The more we work toward those goals, the more society assigns us worth. (DeMuth "Everything"189)
Yes, this is what my heart has been wrestling. An idea that success, or even my worth, is somehow measured by how I compare to other people. The more I do, achieve, excel, the more value I have.

I am dissatisfied. I can always do more, be more. This way of thinking snowballs — into an exhausting competition, if you will, against the human race. I look around and see what everyone else is doing and feel a pressure to be more then I am.

And this thought process trickles down into how I parent. I find myself spiraling towards the pit as I listen to other parents brag about how great their kid is at this or that. I feel the pressure for my own kids to be more and do more. But when I slow down and watch my kids excelling at just being them, that self-imposed pressure makes me feel sick to my stomach.

How do you keep "parent-brag syndrome" from infecting you?

Lately, as I tire myself reaching for the unattainable, I hear another voice whispering.  Perhaps you measure success with the wrong ruler?
It's crucial to avoid comparison, and set your own yardstick for success. Your path is not going to look like anyone else's. (Rachelle Gardner, "Don't Feed Your Discontent")

I am fairly certain I will not discover the cure for cancer or do anything the world might find extraordinary. But if I stop using the giant ruler marked "everyone" and instead use the one assigned only to me, I find that I am pretty extraordinary!

Success, in my opinion, is merely your ability to accomplish something you've set out to achieve.

Wow, just getting dressed and out the door some mornings is success for me.

Viewing myself, my worth, through the lens of comparison has become a bad habit — but one I want to break. Slowly shifting my focus forces me to see things differently — perhaps how they were meant to be seen.

Already I feel freedom, relief, even peace. When successes are measured by an individual ruler, I see myself, my husband, my children for who they really are — who God made them to be. And I really like them!

My son's lament in the car today was a sweet reminder.

There is no one on this Earth who will ever get it "right" all the time. Perfect does not exist here. Set your ruler for doing the very best that you can and be content with that. Because that's truly all you can do — your best.

And that is the real definition of success.

Breaking habits with Ann at "A Holy Experience":


God chose "Fruitful" to be my #oneword365 for 2013. And I can't help but view this new perspective through the lens of that word. I believe God is helping me to define what being fruitful looks like and I see now that it can only be measured using my own ruler.

Linking here:


Anonymous said...

I also had a heart to heart with myself regarding success. I learned success is a world/man institution and acceptance/love is God's. I like God's better!
Keep going, great post!

Unknown said...

You are absolutely right. I like God's better, too. The hard part is actually doing it - living it out. Thanks for visiting!


Unknown said...

Be encouraged- I think you're doing great! God loves to hear us cry out to Him.

In His Grip,

PS I have a link party on Friday where I'm asking bloggers to share family fun ideas - would love to have your ideas!

Anonymous said...

I hear you. I struggle with how I measure up all. the. time. It's only when I start measuring through God's eyes that I really am able to let that go.

Unknown said...

Thank you, Monica, for your encouragement! And I appreciate the invite!

Andrea: I figured I wasn't alone in this thinking. Sometimes it's a real flesh-fight to not think this way. Maybe I need to be more patient with myself. It takes time to change the way you think, the way you see things. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

True words, beautifully communicated. Thanks, Christy!

Christina said...

Oh so true! I have measured myself against others so many times. I need to measure myself against the plan God has for me. I need to reach for the goals He has, not what He is doing in other people. This is a big battle for many, thanks for sharing your thoughts.

teresa said...

OH, I am with you. I am also reading "Everything". AND have been feeling the same way.

I have been working through prayer therapy for several months and something that keeps coming up is that God wants me to "be". He wants me to "abide" in him and stop striving-let him guide my life.

But, I fall into the comparing game all the time. The other day a lady talked about how she was getting up early every morning and working out before she got her kids ready for school and that she has been doing in for months and that is why she looks so good. Well, I have gained weight over the last few years and would like to lose it. I started to condemn myself for not getting up at 5 each morning and working out before I get my daughter ready for school and head to my job.

The whisper came to my soul that I need to wait on the Lord. Let him teach me what to do. I am not supposed to live her life. I am supposed to live mine. I may not know what that all entails all the time. But it is important for me to learn to wait and trust on the Jesus.

Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone.

I really appreciate your words and your sharing.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Carolyn, Christina, and Teresa for sharing your thoughts!

Glad to know I'm not the only one who struggles with this. I really want to change it. I need to change how I measure myself. I hope you are all with me!

Teresa: "I'm not supposed to live her life. I am supposed to live mine." Yes, yes, yes! So true!

Pamela said...

It's so easy to compare ourselves to others--looks, weight, achievement, etc. I needed to be reminded again not to play the comparison game. I only want to be like Jesus.

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