What is success? And how do you measure it?

  • Some measure success by how happy they feel.
  • Some by how much they have accomplished.
  • Some by how wealthy they are.
  • Some by how many friends they have.
  • Some by how many people know their name.

But do these things really amount to success?

God provides us with an alternate viewpoint. It involves happiness and achievement and it touches relationships and wealth. Yet it transcends run-of-the-mill assumptions about success for prizes that are much deeper, sweeter, more lasting, and more brilliant.

Here are three gospel-centered ways to measure success in your life.

If success means that everything in your life is going reasonably well, you will never, ever find success on this planet. But there is another way.

Tweet this

#1 – Ups and Downs

O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water. . . . When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches, For You have been my help, And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy.

–Psalm 63:1, 6-7 (NASB)

Life is full of ups and downs. This is such a truism that it’s hardly worth mentioning, yet it’s also hard to remember.

Very often when we think about success, we imagine arriving at a place where everything in our life is “up” and nothing is “down.” It usually seems that there are just a few things missing (“if I only had this”) and a few things standing in the way (“if I could only change that”) that are preventing us from getting there.

It’s easy to identify people who appear to have the success we want. But if we knew them better, we’d find that not everything in their lives is “up” either. In truth, everyone on Earth is experiencing a “down” in some area of their life right now.

If success means that everything in your life is going reasonably well, you will never, ever find success on this planet. But there is another way.

The Book of Psalms, much of it composed by David, is a God-breathed model of how to respond when your life is mostly “up,” when it’s mostly “down,” and when it’s mostly getting better. We call these three conditions thriving, surviving, and reviving. The key to success is going to God no matter what situation you’re in.

For instance, in Psalm 63 David remembers how great it felt to commune with God in the middle of the night when he was thriving. Now, however, he is “seeking [God] earnestly,” “yearning” for him in a desert where he is barely surviving. At the end of the psalm, David expresses confidence that God will soon vanquish David’s enemies and David will start reviving.

For David and for all the psalmists, all of life is about God, and all of life is to be shared with God. We love it when things are “up” in our lives, and the gospel gives us hope that in the new heavens and the new earth everything will be “up” someday. But for now, true success is to be with God whether we’re up, down, or getting better.

A bucket list can actually be a way to honor God, celebrate his blessings to you, and bless other people.

Tweet this

#2 – Your Bucket List

David said, “My son Solomon is just an inexperienced young man, and the temple to be built for the LORD must be especially magnificent so it will become famous and be considered splendid by all the nations. Therefore I will make preparations for its construction.” So David made extensive preparations before he died.

–1 Chronicles 22:5 (NET)

Do you remember the 2007 movie The Bucket List? In the picture, two terminally ill men escape a cancer ward with a to-do list to accomplish before they “kick the bucket.” The movie propelled the term “bucket list” into our vernacular, meaning “a set of big, bold things to do before you die.”

Do you have a bucket list? Many believers immediately recoil from the notion. To them, the whole idea seems selfish. Let me tell you, a bucket list certainly can be selfish, but it doesn’t have to be. A bucket list can actually be a way to honor God, celebrate his blessings to you, and bless other people.

Let’s look at David again. God didn’t permit David to build a monumental temple for him; that task was reserved for David’s son Solomon. But David set a goal that he wanted to accomplish before he died—namely, to amass a huge quantity of the materials for the amazing building. Accomplishing this item on David’s bucket list gave him joy, but it also honored God, helped his successor, and met a need of the whole nation.

So consider what grand things you’d love in your heart of hearts to accomplish. They could be things to do, places to go, skills to learn, objectives to achieve, or possessions to obtain. They could (and should!) emerge out of all areas of your life—work and play and worship, family and friends and flying solo.

Weigh each goal on your list against these questions:

  • How is the goal facilitating deeper intimacy or special bonding with people?
  • How is the goal enabling personal re-creation or particular inspiration?
  • How is the goal providing a general blessing or unique investment?
  • How is the goal promoting increased faith or gospel advancement?

Perhaps the biggest question to ask is this: if your bucket list belonged to someone else, would you want that person to accomplish it? Do you think it would be good for the world and would glorify God if they did?

Living the dreams of a bucket list like that is true success.

What if you really do have just “one job” that God put you on earth to do?

Tweet this

#3 – Your Ultimate Contribution

David, after he had served God’s purpose in his own generation, died [and] was buried with his ancestors.

– Acts 13:36 (NET)

“You had one job.” You’ve probably heard this chastisement before, especially when delivered by a comedian poking fun at someone’s flagrant failure.

That’s not normally how life works though, right? No one just has one job. In any one season you play all kinds of roles, each entailing all kinds of jobs. Just think how those jobs multiply through the variety of roles you play over the course of your whole life!

But what if the joke conceals a truth about life that few people see? What if you really do have just “one job” that God put you on earth to do? What if the decades you spend doing lots of jobs are setting you up to accomplish your singular life’s work, your ultimate contribution?

Again, David is a great example. David did loads of things in his life. He herded sheep, wrote and sang psalms, slaughtered enemies, united and expanded a kingdom, centralized worship, organized temple servants, and fathered a slew of kids.

But these activities added up to an ultimate contribution that transcended them all. David was put on earth to model what the king of God’s people was supposed to be like, a model that would not be matched until Jesus the Messiah arrived and perfected it. Modeling kingship was how David “served God’s purpose in his own generation”; that was his one job.

Do you have any clues as to what your ultimate contribution might be? Look at the vocational path you’ve been on from the beginning. Also look at the yearnings of your heart even if they doesn’t seem to have much to do with your vocational path so far. And ask people who know you well what they see unfolding.

Then begin to shape your day-to-day and year-to-year life according to what your ultimate contribution might be. Because true success is making the mark God made you to make.

Want to really dig into the process of redefining success? Join Dave Rhodes, who co-founded Younique with me, on Wednesday, April 29 at 2pm (eastern) for a webinar that will walk you through a practical tool to define what God designed you to do. For an investment of $29 and about 90 minutes of your time, you'll have a clear target at which you can aim your life.

Topics: Date: Apr 23, 2020 Tags: younique