Success takes on a different meaning for each of us.
For those of us with high and noble ambitions success is mostly momentary. Success opens our eyes to new vistas off on the future horizon that are only reached by going back down the mountain, into the valley, and climbing the next higher mountaintop. It’s work disguised as adventure and the exploration of possibilities.
Far too often I suffer from feelings of failure because of all that I imagine and have yet to accomplish.
Recognizing success is different, however, from resting in it.
It’s odd how sometimes I can be restful and satisfied, yet at other times so restless and frustrated. What gives with that?
Unfulfilled ambition easily draws me into being a smaller, stingier, melancholy occupant of my being. I don’t like me in these flashes of embracing failure. My 30-plus–year quest of pioneering the planet to be on-purpose continues to be a financial battle to fund the next project on the horizon. Fighting feelings of frustration, nonrecognition, and financial shortfall wear away at my heart in doses of discouragement.
When I find myself tending toward hoarding and worry, I know for a fact that my better character is not at work. That devil of fear is pounding on the door of my heart and I have to decide whether to let him enter or tell him to go away.
To regain my sense of perspective and rejuvenation, I force myself to reconsider my personal and professional accomplishments over the long haul. Counting my current blessings fills me with a gracious gratitude and a spirit of generosity.
Whether it be 30+ years of marriage, a son and daughter who make me proud, two truly best-selling books in The On-Purpose Person and The On-Purpose Business Person, and more—much more—I’ve learned that none of “my success” was done by me alone. I’ve been forever surrounded by a supportive cast of family, co-workers, friends, classmates, and colleagues who’ve each invested in my work and life. Love has uplifted everything “I’ve ever accomplished.”
I’ve also dealt with people who “throw bricks” by stealing, cheating, lying, and taking advantage of me when I trusted. About every 7 years I get a major AFGE (Another Frigging Growing Experience) that keeps me from a sense of self-importance.
These “lessons” have made me wiser and stronger.
The biblical concept of the tithe (See The On-Purpose Person in the chapter titled “Giving”) is remarkably practical on this point of managing success and failure. Tithing is designed to be a joyful, intentional, and proportional (10+%) expression of our time, talent, and treasure (our success). For our benefit, the tithe offers us a periodic and healthy time for reflection regardless of the size of our accomplishments.
Giving can be off-purpose when used to control, manipulate, or lord it over another. Giving is free and without strings attached. Investment, however, comes with expectations, controls, terms, conditions, and covenants. You can be a giver and you can be an investor—just acknowledge the difference when you’re in the act.
When giving, discretion and discernment are our allies. Stewardship matters. We’re not to be gamblers in our giving but we are to take risks by stretching our comfort zones so our faith and trust are extended.
Giving freely, not from duty or obligation, is the healthy outpouring of a successful soul. This kind of success and giving are knit together. You can’t have one without the other. As my friend Steve Brown of Key Life Ministries would say, “Now, you think about that.”