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We’ve all seen an action movie where the daring hero is making his way through a series of obstacles all to the ultimate goal of rescuing the girl or defeating the bad guy (or both). But then, suddenly, he meets an obstacle: there are lasers blocking the hallway or the door locks behind him or he has to make the dreaded choice between the red and the blue wire. What is the hero to do? Your heart pounds for a moment as he somehow figures a way out of the predicament and you breathe a sigh of relief when he moves past it. In most of these movies there’s a clear moment where you could yell “Success!” on the hero’s behalf. His mission of getting the girl or saving the city or kicking tail with a particular flair has been achieved and he will live to fight another day; success can be clearly labeled and measured. But, unfortunately, real life isn’t written by Hollywood writers following the typical rise and fall of a plot line.

What do you do when success eludes you? 

Recently, I’ve been feeling like a failure. I’m 25 years old (I’m young, I know), but I’m nowhere near where I thought I’d be. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve imagined 25 being one of the best years of my life and I came into this year expecting God to do something amazing and, while it’s been good, I don’t know that I could label it “amazing”. Much of the time it feels mediocre, sometimes peaking up to “good”, but never really exceeding that. I have grand dreams and ideas and every time I try to pursue one of them I seem to get shot down, which, makes me feel like a failure.

So, what do you do when you feel like a failure? I don’t know, so I’ve been doing what I typically do when I have no idea how to solve something, I take it to God. He’s much smarter than me and has a much better perspective that I need.

“You’ve been measuring success incorrectly.”

This is what I feel like I’ve heard God whispering to me.

When you’re trying to measure a sprinter based on their distance or a long-distance runner by their quickness, each one will seem like a failure, because you’re looking in the wrong place. When we measure our own success and that of others incorrectly that can lead to frustration, anger, added hurts, and even abandonment. I’ve been contemplating walking away from a number of things lately all because they haven’t measured up to what I deemed to be “successful”.

What if success looks different than numbers or revenue generated or clicks on a page? What if success looks like connecting with another human being? I’m beginning to think that sometimes the “bigger picture” involves helping another person. Take a look at your life, are there any areas that you would label unsuccessful? I wonder if those can be turned around by helping someone else who is less fortunate. If you’re trying to start a business, have you considered measuring success by more than just your bottom line? If you’re a blogger or a speaker, have you thought about the quality of impact rather than the quantity of views? Or, maybe this season of “failure” is just what’s needed to learn a lesson that can catapult you to “success”.

I encourage you to ask the Lord for clarity about what success means for you. For me, the businesses God has me focused on now are not about me. What I imagine and wish to be revenue-generating are so much bigger than that: they’re about other people. If what I am doing at work or after hours, benefits another human being, another person who God loves, then I have been successful. He is teaching me that, at the end of the day, my success is not defined by the balance in my bank account or how many people know my name, but if I’ve listened and obeyed His still small voice.

So, to all of those fellow “failures” out there, I think you’re just one paradigm shift away from being a success. I’m going to allow God to dictate what a “success” looks like in my life, what about you?

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