Measuring Success

Recently, I had the immense privilege of speaking to a group of graduates. This week, I thought to share the speech with you. Enjoy!


Success. How does one measure it? Is it by the school you attend? The degree you attain? The position you hold at work? The size of your bank account? The size of your home? The price tag on your car? Can it be measured by what others say or think of you? Can it even be measured at all? And if it could, what would it look like?

We each have a built-in desire for greatness. Most fear failure and prefer to be deemed a success. But might I suggest that what you choose to do professionally speaking, and any financial gain you receive from it, is actually secondary. Your education, your job, your title, or position, may all be important, but each are merely tools God gives you to do the truly important things like loving, sharing, helping, repairing, and rebuilding this messy, broken world.

I’ve noticed that the reason we’re here or there is never really why we’re here or there. In other words, the main event, is rarely the main event. It’s what you learn, how you respond, the character you build, the people whose burdens you help lift, and whose lives you may even be fortunate enough to partner with God to help alter for the better.

Every moment is really a God-infused opportunity.

You see the measure of a successful life does not consist of the number of books you read, the accolades you gain, the sizable house or bank account, or even your success compared to another’s (but you already know that). There’s only One who could possibly measure success, and He’s the same One you have already partnered with, who is cheering you on, and caring for your every breath.

Choose wisely then those things you are willing to spend your time on in this one life. The days are long but the years are short.

And if by chance you should choose to spend some time on the unpopular, the unlovely, the forgotten, or those who can never repay your kindness or help, you can be sure you are on the right track to a successful life.

And if in great need or in great abundance you can equally share your finances, time, even a smile, you can be sure you are on the right track to a successful life.

And if the beautiful things you choose to do are done for only an audience of One, you are on the right track to a successful life.

And if the world pulls out its measuring tape and you fall short, there’s a good chance that even then, you’re closer than you think to a successful life.

And know that there will always be critics. The ones who don’t understand. Who perhaps dislike your ideas, your way of thinking, or your chosen path. The ones who say you can’t – the ones who themselves won’t. But don’t be one yourself, remembering that the thing that makes you different is often your gift to the world.

Be instead the one who tries, who dreams and dares and graciously differs, who attempts the impossible when others remain on the bleachers. Be the one who when everyone else won’t, does right, does good, speaks the encouraging word, camps on the truth, doesn’t give up, refuses to maintain mediocrity, and swims against the flow of humanity when necessary.

Be one who fearlessly and graciously overrides the critics, but who above all else loves God, and in doing so lives out that lavish, abundant grace and love bestowing it on others – and on self – all the while living out the purposes for which God placed you on earth at this point in history. If you do these, you will wear success as easily as a comfortable pair of shoes.

Be it in small things or great, you – in all your quirky, amazing uniqueness – will make a difference to this bleeding world. And if by chance you get to stop the hemorrhaging or apply a simple band-aid, both are priceless. And if you happen to do it in the midst of working, rejoicing, struggling, or bleeding yourself, but neither give up or give in, here too you will have found success.

Because no matter what you choose to do, you not only have a purpose, you have a secured destination. And the One who bought your passage there already sees you as pure and perfect and successful.

Here is some advice directly from God on living successfully:

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6: 19-21

Strive for greatness, yes! Reach for excellence, absolutely! Aim for a successful life, for sure! But be that success invisible or intensely public, it all matters the same in eternity. But let that success, in whichever form it takes, be, most of all, comprised of greatness of eternal value soaked in love. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Congratulations you amazingly talented, brilliant human beings! There is no limit to what you and God can accomplish! I love you and am so very proud of you! And…I’ll miss you!



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