What does success look like?

“So why are you writing this book? Do you want recognition?”
Ouch.

It’s a fair question. I’ve embarked on writing a book and I’ve been telling people about it as it’s understandably taking up a lot of my time – it’s going relatively well (i.e. slowly) amidst a full time job, thank you for asking.

This week though, I’ve been reminded of what success should look like: humility.

“Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

What qualifies me to speak or write with authority on a subject? I am not especially wise. I have some knowledge and experience, but at the core of the matter, I am just me – no better or worse or more qualified than anyone else. And it’s this I need to remember.

In doing what I believe God has called me to do in writing this book, I don’t think it’s because I’m overly qualified. I’m not somehow deserving or perfect. Moses was not a gifted public speaker – in fact he hated it, Mary was a young woman in a time when women were second class.

Do I want recognition? I don’t think so. Being recognised for being divorced is, believe me, not top of my list of things to be recognised for – my taste in scarves or my extensive earring collection rank higher. But rather than being recognised for those things that fade, success is in achieving what God has asked of me, rather than worldly recognition. Success means giving the glory to God.

the entirety of life

We all have our own definitions of success. For a long time, my view of whether I was successful was defined by relationship. Being married and having a family was to me, a marker of success – after all, my job could be gone at any point. I realise that in the light of my life now, this statement is somewhat ironic. It made me reevaluate what success meant to me.

I would still love to be married again, have a family one day, and I hope that this happens for me. But if it doesn’t, I won’t consider myself unsuccessful. I never thought I’d love my work as much as I do. I could have worked harder and become a Key Stage leader or a subject leader. To the world that would be success. Instead I decided to go back to the bottom.

So I’m single, at the bottom…

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