Measuring Success

How shall we measure success?

Retired administrator

EVERYBODY wants to succeed—that is almost everybody. There are a few who are content with mediocrity and failure. But what is success? By what standards shall we measure our labors and judge our en­deavors? Is one eminently successful if his name heads the list of total deliveries or maximum hours? Not necessarily. Is it suc­cess to do a little better than we did last year? I think not. How then shall we measure success?

Success is not determined by a set of fixed standards. Many factors are involved. There is the question of one's ability. Tal­ents have not been uniformly distributed. There is the question of one's health and the circumstances inherent in the situa­tions where one labors. Then, too, the ef­fects of our labors are not always immedi­ately in evidence. It is in "due season we shall reap if we faint not."

For myself I have formulated a defini­tion of success that has brought to me a restfulness that is indescribably precious. It takes me completely out of competition with my contemporaries. I am in no rat race with someone else. Here it is:

"Success is to function at a maximum of one's ability."

Stated negatively: "No person is truly successful who is content to do one whit less than he is capable of doing." It would appear that this definition of mine is sup­ported by divine counsel. Note: "We shall individually be held responsible for do­ing one jot less than we have ability to do. The Lord measures with exactness every possibility for service. The unused capabili­ties are as much brought into account as are those that are improved. For all that we might become through the right use of our talents God holds us responsible."—Christ's Object Lessons, p. 363.

How can this personalized philosophy of success be made to function in our every­day situations? Five vital factors are defi­nitely involved. Let me list them:

1.   A consciousness that we are labor­ing in the presence of God. "Thou , God seest me" (Gen. 16:13). The psalmist makes it plain that we can never escape from the presence of God (Ps. 139). In the parable of the Vine and the Branches, Jesus said that "abiding" must always precede "fruitbearing."

2.   A recognition that there are no lim­its to God's ability or willingness. "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23). Some time ago circumstances compelled me to the for­mulation of this motto: "You will never know the resources of Christ until you at­tempt the impossible."
3.   The disposition to throw one's self without reserve into the work one has been called to do. "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might" (Eccl. 9:10). A wavering, halting spirit accomplishes nothing worth while. There are few greater tragedies than the tragedy of a di­vided interest. Divinely called workers who devote a portion of their time "sitting at the receipt of custom" present a pathetic picture.

4.   The disposition to reach for and to make ever larger plans for the extention of God's work (John 4:35). It is a world task that challenges the workers of God. We are told: "You are entertaining too limited ideas of the work for this time. You are trying to plan the work so that you can embrace it in your arms. You must take broader views."---Life Sketches, p. 208.
5.   The disposition to be wise in the use of our time (Eph. 5:16; Col. 4:5). Every hour is freighted with eternal possibilities. Time is the stuff that life is made of.

The above five factors, properly com­bined, make possible the functioning of our philosophy of success. This is partnership with God—not competition with fellow workers.


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Retired administrator

July 1966

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