How Does God Define Success?

grey truck

One day I was driving home from church and passed a big, shiny, brand new pick-up truck.  It was a beauty…and it was grey.  Oh, did I mention that it was really shiny with lots of chrome and cool lights. Did I tell you that it was impressive like the trucks on the commercials that are driving haphazardly through large mud puddles and hauling tons of important, manly looking items?  That is about all of the technical details I can recall about this truck.  If my husband had seen it, he could tell you the make, the model, the year and several important facts about it.  Then he would say with a frustrated but wistful longing, “I would love to have a truck like that!”

I would love for my husband to be able to have a truck like that!  He has owned at least 4 different pick-up trucks, all of them used.  All of them needed a lot of repairs and were more trouble than what they were worth, in my opinion.  But Chris does do a lot of hauling and hard work, and loves pick-up trucks.  As I passed this particular grey truck, I wondered to myself, “What would it feel like to be able to own a truck like that? What would it feel like to be successful enough to turn Chris’ dream into a reality?”

God used that grey truck to shine a light on the inner workings of my heart.  I realized that my definition of success was this: having enough money to buy an expensive new truck.  Then I thought about my vision for our future, a future where Chris and I had been successful.  I saw our family living in our dream house we had found on the internet.  The one that has seven bedrooms, six bathrooms and ten acres.  We were able to pay all our bills on time.  We were able to buy a new camper.  We were able to take time off from work to use that great new camper on vacations with all the children.  We had enough space and time and money to open our home to missionaries needing some R &R, and maybe we even developed a ministry to special needs children on our lovely property.

In my vision, our future was so beautiful and we were so prosperous…and comfortable.  My idea of success is the American dream: to work hard to earn a good life and then be able to enjoy that good life. defines the American dream as: a life of personal happiness and material comfort as traditionally sought by individuals in the U.S.

Exactly!  That is what I wanted!  Isn’t that what we all want?

But is that what God wants for us?  Is that His best for us?  What is God’s definition of success?

Jesus said that we should seek his kingdom first.  Isn’t his kingdom all about…well, HIM??  Isn’t it all about knowing Jesus and having relationship with him and becoming like him? Anything that distracts us from knowing him is no success at all.

I realized that my definition of success was infinitely too small.  A shiny grey truck could make me happy when the most beautiful, powerful, captivating treasure was waiting in the wings…waiting to be sought out, to be discovered, to be experienced, and to be loved.  And that treasure was waiting to show me his love, to blow apart my mindsets and wreck my American dream if necessary to bring me to himself.

“You will not measure true spiritual fruit rightly while you are in the earth.  You can only measure your true success by how much more clearly you are able to behold the LORD, by how much better you know His Voice, and by how much more you love the brethren.

“You must not try to judge by the fruit that you see on earth, but do what you must because it is right.

Even so, more that bearing fruit, your call must be to know the LORD. If you seek Him you will always find Him.  He is always near to those who draw near. ..There is no higher purpose.  Your victory will be measured by your seeking.  You will always be as close to Him as you want to be. Your victory in life will be according to your desire for him” – The Call

A new idea of success was forming in my mind.  To know Jesus more each day.  To look into his eyes every moment and see his great love for me.  To live in that love.  To be able to see the face of God clearly enough to make out when he is smiling.  To desire to make him smile with my every thought and word and deed.  What joy and peace that would bring to any circumstance of life that I might find myself in.

That, my friends, is true success!