Can you we define our own success? Many certainly try. Some, for example, find success in wealth and prestige, while others find it in living the minimalistic life. In both cases, success is determined by us: either the culture who affirms that being “rich” equals success or by the subculture that argues that living minimalistically equals success.
But can success really be something that we define individually? 
How should we define success? Can we define it as individuals or should we let the broader collective of humanity define it? To my mind, stating the question this way creates a false dichotomy.
Our entire view of success immanent. We either let other people or our inner-self define success. And yet, this is a radically new way of thinking.
In the western tradition, success or what they called happiness was an external standard. If you lived well, you gained the status of happiness.
For Christians, however, this measure of success or happiness came from without. The transcendent God who sits above creation defined success. If you followed God and lived virtuously, then you were successful.
Your wealth or your lack of possessions mattered little. What mattered was that the external norm of success (God’s will) validated you.
It’s not about whether you feel successful or whether your community affirms you, it’s whether God has. If he has, then you can be content. You don’t need more wealth, less clutter, or however else you define success in life.
Thousands of years ago, a man named Asaph (c. 1000 BC) envied the success of others and this brought him no joy. He writes, “For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” Asaph didn’t have the signs of success that his culture defined.
He felt dejected, without hope.
It wasn’t until he realized that success is defined not by culture but by God that he came around. He realized that he was ignorant of the truth and that brought him down. He transformed from finding his success in the opinion of others to finding it in God. He writes, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.”
When he placed his hope in a reality that transcends the world, he was no longer controlled by the frowns and judgments of others. The unchanging reality of God became the ground of his assurance, the ground of his knowing what true success was.
If we seek success in wealth, prestige, honour, family, minimalism, freedom, or whatever else, we will always be disappointed. Always. When the economy downturns and you lose your wealth, then what’s the meaning of life? When you lose your job, who are you? When your family passes away or moves on in life, then you will lose your status as parent and who you are after that?
Ultimately, Death looms with its precursor, sickness or ill-health. When your body breaks down, these things won’t matter.
Real success comes from outside of you, not inside. You don’t define your own success. And if you do, it will lead you headlong into destruction.
Ground your whole self in something beyond you. For my part, I find this grounding in God. And I think everyone ought to as well.
 I saw someone state that success was defined individually on Facebook recently. That comment became the kernel for the above article.
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