HOW DO YOU JUDGE SUCCESS?

If someone were to ask you the question, “What makes you term people successful,” what would you answer? Would you consider how recognisable their names are, how wealthy they are, how fashionable their clothes or list some of their remarkable achievements? While you wouldn’t be entirely wrong in doing so, I feel that success is actually specific to the individual. In other words, the yardsticks for determining success vary from person to person.

Why do I think so? I feel that one cannot be successful outside what God has called him or her to do. And since God has not called all of us to do the same things or to do particular things in the same way, we really can’t be judged by the same parameters.

To illustrate, I want to use the lives of two men from the Bible: the prophet Isaiah and John the Baptist. Isaiah spoke the counsel of God for about 60 years (740 B.C. to 680 B.C.) to kings, from Jotham to Hezekiah, his call coming in the year Jotham’s father, King Uzziah, died. He spoke to the nation of Judah and about other nations, particularly Babylon.

Isaiah walked the corridors of power. He was consulted on matters of policy and when the nation was in dire straits. When Sennacherib, the King of Assyria, conquered some fortified cities in Judah and had Jerusalem under siege, he sent his field officers to terrorise the people and make them to surrender, reminding them that the Assyrian army had overrun many nations. His insolent query was: “Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?” – 2 Kings 18:35 (NIV)

The story continues ….

“And it came to pass, when king Hezekiah heard it, that he rent his clothes, and covered himself with sackcloth, and went into the house of the Lord. And he sent Eliakim, which was over the household, and Shebna the scribe, and the elders of the priests, covered with sackcloth, to Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz. And they said unto him, Thus saith Hezekiah, This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy: for the children are come to the birth, and there is not strength to bring forth. It may be the Lord thy God will hear all the words of Rab–shakeh, whom the king of Assyria his master hath sent to reproach the living God; and will reprove the words which the Lord thy God hath heard: wherefore lift up thy prayer for the remnant that are left.” 2 Kings 19:1-4

Well, Isaiah did pray and a subsequent passage says that the Lord sent an angel and he killed 185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night (v. 35). One account said it was a plague. Same thing. End of siege. The northern kingdom, Israel, had been conquered and its citizens exiled about eight years before this incident but the southern kingdom not only outlived Sennacherib, the threatening king, it survived for another 115 years till it fell to Babylon in the time of King Zedekiah in 586 B.C.

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Isaiah midwifed this and other awesome deliverances of the Lord’s people. When God wanted King Hezekiah to prepare to die, it was the same Isaiah that he sent. Hezekiah was quite unwilling to go and “wept sore” (v.3). God sent Isaiah back to announce he had got a reprieve (15 years added to his life span). Isaiah also gave directions to bring about Hezekiah’s healing (2 Kings 20:1-6).

So on all accounts, Isaiah was super successful as a prophet. His predictions came to pass, and with far-reaching implications. He performed miracles like causing the shadow to go back the ten steps it had gone down the staircase of Ahaz (some sort of sundial). This guy turned back the hands of time! Incredible, but true! (2 Kings 20:9-11) Of course, it was God working, but He did this through Isaiah.

We might be tempted to think thereafter that any prophet worth the title must do the sort of things that Isaiah did. Sounds reasonable, but that’s not the way these things work. Centuries later, a priest called Zechariah had a vision in the temple that his wife would have a son who would walk in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare God’s people for the coming of the Messiah (Luke .1:8-17). Around 5 B.C., that child was born.

When he grew up, he lived in the desert. His food was locusts and wild honey, his robe was made of camel hair held with a leather robe. From about 29 A.D.,he preached a message of repentance, baptising those who felt convicted in the River Jordan, hence his name John the Baptist (Matthew 3:1-6). His preaching sparked such a huge revival that all classes of people sought him out in their numbers, including soldiers and tax collectors, considered the most oppressive and corrupt segments of society.

His ministry lasted about two and half years before he was imprisoned by King Herod and subsequently beheaded (Matthew 14:3-11). But the Lord Jesus said he wasn’t just a prophet, he was more than prophet! He also declared that of those born of women, there was none greater than John (Matthew 11:9,11).

These were His exact words:

“As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: ‘What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist …'” – Matthew 11:7-11 (NIV).

John’s ministry was so short. He performed no physical miracles, he didn’t move in exalted circles. He gave no personal prophecies to anyone, the destiny of kings and nations was not in his hands. He rebuked sin, short and simple. Then he pointed to the way of salvation, which was and still is Jesus. And that was enough! Why? Because that was what he had been sent to do. A man of the wilds, he captured the nation’s attention for a brief moment and then he was gone! He was the end of the old order, the new beginning with Christ.

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When we compare the lives of these two men (Isaiah and John), we will see that each of us need to stay in our own lane and run the race appointed for us. The measurement of our success should be based on how true we stay to our course and how well we fulfil our mandate.

So, do you know what God has called you to do? Are you carrying it out with zeal and diligence? May the Lord multiply grace for you to do this daily. And even if people don’t, may the Lord Himself certify you successful at the end as He did John and countless others before you in Jesus’ name.

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The scriptures used in this post are from the King James Version of the Holy Bible except where otherwise stated.
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I am a university lecturer. I teach Mass Communication, mostly writing courses like Feature and Interpretative Writing, Magazine Article Writing and News Writing, and let’s just say I’ve been doing this for a long time. As you have probably guessed, I am a born-again Christian.

67 thoughts on “HOW DO YOU JUDGE SUCCESS?

  1. Hmm. This is cool. Everyone on earth has a different call; we are sent for different purposes. We should not lose sight of it. By hitting our targets we succeed. And that’s real success. “Stay in your lane and keep running!”

    • Perhaps, I should have used your own quote above for the second graphic. It’s more succinct. You look like a success to me already, praise God!

  2. This is simply striking!
    Ma, why does it seem like a counselling session was conducted by you for me before this post surfaced?
    The entire content of this post reflects my present condition right now!

  3. Thank you so much ma, just like you said, people are successful because God designed them to be and if one is leaving what God has call them for, they end up taking the wrong track in life…

    • Yes, Sampson, men may call such people successful but within them they will not be fulfilled. Have a beautiful weekend and keep reaching for the stars.

  4. Awesome, Edith, never thought of those differences in that way..2 men from different times, and places, yet each perfect and successful in what they were called to do, equal..

    • It just came to me one day, Rita, and I am glad you liked it. May God help each of us to stay true to our calling in Jesus’ name.

  5. Anyone who thinks he or she can be successful in life without God is making a very big mistake .It is God who gives and accounts for success .

  6. Thank you very much. Personally, I measure my success with how fulfilled I am in Christ. My fulfilment doesn’t come outside God ’cause in Him I live, move and have my being.

  7. People should learn not to judge their success solely based on the world’s view of being successful.Fufilling God’s purpose for you on earth makes a successful man. Each man to his own race. God bless you ma, everyone needs to read this.

  8. I love the fact that we are each called to do something different. I love how you pointed out that John the Baprist, all he did was tell people to repent. Simple, yet effective.

    • Thanks a whole lot, Susan. I was surprised to learn that John didn’t perform any miracle, not one! It’s awe-inspiring to know that God’s thoughts and ways are truly far different from ours most times. Abundant blessings on you and yours in Jesus’ name.

  9. Success is defined differently by different people… To me, it is measured by the number of lives one impacted in his or her lifetime, financially, psychologically and otherwise.

    We shouldn’t use other people’s kind of success as a yardstick for measuring ours because God has created us differently with different talents of varying sizes and strengths.

  10. As Christians we are required to measure success from God’s perspective, in accordance to our Destiny because that is only when we are making true success.
    Thanks for sharing, God bless you.

  11. As Herbert Einstein puts it “not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”. Most people measures success with wealth, luxury home and sophisticated life. But it really doesn’t count that way. Everybody has been destined by God to fulfill his/her task differently . We shouldn’t allow anybody to rush us with their own timelines, everything works at its own pace.

  12. I will say success doesn’t count your wealth or earthly possessions but success is your impact on the world, how far your name has gone , and how long it can be remembered

  13. Everyone has a calling. God created everyone for a purpose, the problem is discovering what you are created for. God bless you ma.

  14. I agree with you completely aunty. We were all created differently with different destinies. The fulfilment of our unique purposes on this earth should be the yardstick with which our success is measured. Having this at the back of our minds, we should not envy others for any reason whatsoever. Let’s just keep running our race on different lanes and hope for God’s grace to finish well. I Love the race track graphics aunty. Tells the story quite well too

  15. True indeed!! Most times, we tend to judge success based on acquisition of material things, fame and money. Sometimes, we don’t even appreciate God’s goodness in our lives because we have higher expectations. Not that it is bad to acquire wealth and fame, but that fulfillment of God’s purpose for creating us is foremost important.

  16. Everyone has a specific purpose God wants us to achieve, success shouldn’t be judged by materials things or the certificates obtained. Success should be judged based on our faithfulness to God’s word, being the doers and not only the hearers of the word. God’s salvation should be seen as the greatest achievement or success a person can have in this world. Thank you, Ma, for letting us know this truth.

  17. Being successful in truth is when you are fulfilling God’s plan for your life. Most people judge success based on material things; how many cars one has, the amount of houses and so on. But the real deal is fulfilling God’s plan and purpose for your life. That is real success.

  18. Wow, so we can only be successful if we are in line with what God has called us for, thank You MA!

  19. God has called us to embrace the gift he has given to us and one of the ways to please him is running on our own lane ,
    As the talent story goes we have different talents and each and everyone of us is expected to fulfill such .

  20. Amen! I pray God help me walk in my own purpose. I am also of the belief that when you are walking in God’s purpose for your life, you are bound to be successful. But when it is outside of God’s plan for you, it only leads to struggles and frustrations. Success is when you are fulfilling purpose. So help me God.

  21. Proclaiming God’s goodness and his purpose in your life is enough success. In recent times people place so much emphasis on money as a yardstick for success but it shouldn’t be so.

  22. I have to say that I love how you used the example of two people you might say that are theoretically in the same line of work or calling and how very different their success stories were. It goes to show that it’s not about how long a job was done but how well. It’s also important to remember diligence, hard work, humility, and consistency all contribute to success.

  23. Success to me is not measured by what you accomplish,but by the opposition you have encountered and the courage with which you have maintained the struggle against overwhelming odds.

  24. There is no stand scale of success. Success is when you actually achieve or accomplish what God wants you to do or be in life. Someone at the apex of this career as an Engineer and a Junior Doctor are both successful as far as they are aligned at the point where God wants them to be in their life. Success is also accomplishing short term reachable goals set out by an individual.

  25. I agree with your point of view on the success scale, it’s a scale that varys from person to person. I personally fit ambition and self realisation into that scale. When you know your purpose and what you are meant to be in life and still decide not to work on it. Then it doesn’t turn out well. It’s just like the saying that faith without work is dead.

  26. We are all created in the image and likeness of God. We all have special call and purpose in this life. You ability to answer your call and fulfil your purpose on earth, that is when you are termed successful.

  27. Personally, I judge success by our hard work and dedication to God. Humans are not the same, even identical twins. So, as we are different, our calling’s are also different, we have different success and mandate to fulfil but then it can be achieved by working on God’s direction. Thank you ma, for the inspiration. You are lifted.

  28. I have always judged success only based on wealth, achievement and other material things of life. It seems there is much more beyond that.

    The word success depends on an individual’s perception. I am now convinced that if we do whatever our creator had sent us to do, we would be successful and this means wealth, fame and achievement are not the only prerequisite for being successful.

    Find what you know aligns with your passion, stop with the copy cat syndrome, success will take time, but will come eventually.

  29. Being successful doesn’t basically mean the amount of wealth,knowledge or experience one has gathered.
    The measurement of our success should be based on how true we stay to our course and how we fulfill it.
    May God widen our horizon to see what being a successful being is all about.
    Thank you ma, I now view being successful from another dimension. ??

  30. Success is when you are living according to God’s purpose for your life. Even though a person is doing something else and the person is financially buoyant the person may not be fulfilled. May God help us to work according to his will so that we can walk the pathway of success.

  31. For me, being successful is not a matter of acquiring wealth or degrees. Being successful is working and walking in line with the plans of God in my life. Staying at the right place which God has placed me and fulfilling the purpose why God brought me to this world. That’s SUCCESS for me. God bless you ma’am.

  32. this post is strengthening, really success is not what many today consider as one, it’s all about a fulfilled life in doing God’s will, some times humans miss the track that God wanted to follow ND the end they will realise even if they achieved material things they are not successful. Now I understand what success is all about.

  33. this is an eye-opener. from this post, i have been able to understand that different people will become successful through different ways. success is neither measured by wealth or appearance, but fulfilling God’s plans and purpose for us. this is quite interesting because before now, i used to think success is when one acquires lots of money, properties , cars and every other good thing there is. but now, i understand that success is more about fulfilling destiny. bless up,ma!

  34. As we are created by God, we have different purposes to accomplish on Earth. You are tagged as a success whennyou discover your purpose and work towards it. Therefore everybody’s destiny is different and everyone is successful it depends on how fast you discovered and achieved your purpose.

  35. Complete words of truth! A man is tagged successful when he has fulfilled that which he was sent to do by the almighty.whatever he does outside of that is mere vanity! Therefore one must be guided and focused as to achieving that which he was sent to do because one’s fulfilment of purpose matters a lot!…bless you ma for the post

  36. We’re created by God for different purposes. I believe, for one to be successful, he or she must discover that which God created him or her for. One must stand against all odds in achieving God’s objectives for his or her life. Outside, there can be no success…

  37. To be honest, I thought being successful meant having wealth, riches etc but now I have realized that there’s a deeper meaning to it. Our success stories won’t come true if not for God who has prepared us through the right path.

  38. God bless you for this enlightenment. Until now I never know that rich and success are two different things, so you can actually be rich but not successful?

  39. Success shouldn’t not be measured by the amount of earthly and material possessions acquired. I feel one has achieved success when he is fulfilling his God-given purpose here on earth and nothing less than that. For the material possessions is nothing outside this earth.

  40. I believe I can say that people are successful based on God’s design. Success is not just enough, good success is what the Bible actually subscribes to in the book of Joshua. Success is part of God’s plan for man. Thanks ma for this.

  41. There is no success without God. Man must clung to the will of God on the path of his career in life. At alltimes we should submit every of our idea to God pray for his grace to lead us. One with God is on the right side . in the bible Isaiah success was a blessing from God “Isaiah was super successful as a prophet. His predictions came to pass, and with far-reaching implications”.so I will say with God success is sure.thanks ma

  42. Our close relationship with God. Will be a better aid for us to know our role on earth. Cause everyone on earth has a role to play. My prayer for us is we discover it.

  43. I totally agree with you ma, that there is no particular way to judge success as we are different individuals with the different views. Having been successful is being able to recognize your being, your potential, your aim in life and leaving up to it to the fullest. Knowing your mandate and fulfilling it.

  44. success is individualistic in nature …. Accomplishing the purpose of being created is SUCCESS exemplified… Dear Lord help me to always bear in mind that you created me for a reason and help me fulfill that goal in Jesus name

  45. As Christians, we should measure our success from God’s perspective. Being successful doesn’t only mean wealth, it also signifies how well we have lived on earth and our positive impact in the society. Everyone has different calling in this world, so we should always appreciate God.

  46. Thanks a whole lot ma, until we realize that each and every one has a purpose, each and every one has a mission and each and everyone has an area where God has placed him to do marvelously well for Him we would stop envying and copying others and start asking the Potter what He made the clay (you) for.

  47. I think there is no measure for success. I believe success is relative. As long as you are able to complete the the will of God in your life then that is success. I like the example used in the post of Isaiah and John the Baptist. For some people in school, a pass is all the success they need while for others it is Aceing a course is success.

  48. Amen! Before we were born into the world, God has already known what we will become.Before you will be tagged a success, is when you are able to discover your purpose and work towards it. Hence, everyone’s destiny is different from another and everyone is successful which depends on how fast you are able to discover it and achieve your purpose.

  49. Someone said something to me sometime ago, he said Joy success is not determined by how far you go but how well you will be able to utilize every situation that will always come your way, knowing what you are created for is where ones real journey starts, doing it well is another thing and being focused in order not to lose track,then you will know undoubtedly that you will make it, that is real success

  50. I used to think success was dependent on material things like house, shoes, clothes, a good job. I have come to know its a lot more than that. Growing from where you used to be to a better place and whatever does it for an individual is true success.

  51. We should not look not look at others success and think that we are not succeeding. Every one has a different purpose in life. Be in your lane and don’t get distracted by others success.

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