S-U-C-C-E-S-S…how do you define success?

I love watching the Olympics.  All the competition and drama, who doesn’t enjoy that just a little?  What I have always found fascinating is the different reactions the athletes have when they finish.  Some win a bronze medal and jump around ecstatic and filled with joy.  Others win bronze and hang their heads in utter disappointed. Same color medal.  Different reactions.  Why such extremes?  It has to do in part with how each defines success.

How do you define success?  The universal definition of success is the accomplishment of an aim or purpose. Logic follows that without an aim or purpose success is not possible. Motivational speaker and author Earl Nightingale has said, “Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal.”

Having a clear picture of what success looks like in a given area enables us to set appropriate goals that will  propel us toward that end.  We may not consciously think in such straight forward terms all the time, but if we have achieved a sense of success, subconsciously this is what we have been doing.  In our minds we have a worthy ideal for something and our actions lead us in that direction. When we arrive at that ideal we feel successful.

Knowing, articulating and sharing a common purpose on foundational issues brings unity and effectiveness to our businesses, churches, governments and families.  Without it there can be tension, frustration and confusion.  But, how could this translate personally?

Maybe one benefit is that in the little things we would have more grace for others.  Maybe I won’t be so quick to judge and devalue another’s response to shared experiences.  If I win bronze and am over joyed I won’t be so quick to judge or look down on the one who is disappointed with the bronze, and vise versa.

If asked the question, “Do you want to be successful in life?,” most people are hopeful and answer, “Of course!”  However, if asked the question, “How do you define success?,” most people struggle to answer.

 “But keep the Lord Christ holy in your hearts. Always be ready to answer everyone who asks you to explain about the hope you have.” 1 Peter 3:15

So, how do you define success?  May we be among those who are both hopeful, purposeful and articulate!

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

Cloudy with a Chance of Clouds

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“Today’s weather is cloudy with a chance of ….”  In West Michigan this is pretty much how the daily weather report begins. Fill in the blank with snow, rain or sunshine, but the constant is clouds.  Compared to the rest of the country there just isn’t a lot of sunshine. Yes, everyday the sun rises, shines and then sets.  It’s just that frequently it can’t be seen. There are clouds in the way.

Clouds have many redeeming qualities.  They do provide shade and relief from the harshness of the sun. The ground is nourished by the rain or snow that falls from them.  Imaginations are stirred as they pass overhead on a warm summer afternoon.  However, when they linger too long and subsequent days of just clouds become weeks of just clouds, well, that doesn’t make them very endearing.

I would love to say that I am unaffected by the lack of sunshine we receive here in Michigan, but I would be lying. I am affected. The clouds have the ability to blur my vision. When my vision is unclear I find myself unmotivated, lethargic and discouraged.  Dare I say depressed?

How do I clear the clouds away and get my vision back, get my energy back?  There are some who would say to suck it up and change my thoughts and focus. Will myself out. Then there are others who suggest a Vitamin D supplement and an over the counter medication.  I don’t have an issue using either option.  But what if another solution is in the clouds?

 “By faith Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Samson, David and the prophets…Others were tortured and refused to be released…Some faced jeers and flogging…They we’re stoned, sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword.  They went about in sheepskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated-the world was not worthy of them….(Hebrews 11)

Therefore, since we are surround by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that  so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. (Hebrews 12:1)

Today it is cloudy with a chance of clouds.  But today I remember that I am surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses and I am thankful for the clouds. I hear the same One who encouraged their hearts encouraging  mine.

Fear not, for I am with you.  Be strong and courageous.  Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.  You are worth more than rubies. You are loved with an everlasting love.  You are always in my grip. I have called you friend. You are wise because Wisdom resides in you. I am the King of Kings and the LORD of Lords. I am the Lamb that was slain for you. I died, was buried but I arose and conquered death.  I am the resurrected One who sits at the right hand of the Father and who intercedes for you. I am alive. I hear you. You are not alone.  I need you.

My heart is stirred.  I am encouraged.  I persevere.

Today it is cloudy with a chance of clouds. I may not see the sun today but I have full confidence that the Son is shining.

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Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

Rum pum pum pum

Everyone needs a good gut laugh now and then. You know, the kind that melts stress, gives the old abs a workout and adds some depth of character to the face.  I got just what I needed when the non-profit organization I Like Giving sponsored an event featuring comedian Michael Jr.

This guy is funny.  Very funny.  What made him so memorable to me, however, was the way he intertwined Truth throughout his comedy routine.  He shared how God challenged his approach to comedy and the subsequent mind shift that transpired.  Where as before he would  seek to get laughs, now he simply presents his gift and gives the audience the opportunity to laugh.  He isn’t seeking to get something.  He is seeking to give something.  This approach has opened doors to ushering laughter into places where laughter is hard to come by; prisons, homeless shelters and child group homes.  Boy does this challenge and speak to my heart!

How do you and I use our gifts? Are we looking to get or to give?  If I am looking to get there is incredible pressure on me to perform.  I can easily try to control, make things happen and force the outcome. Ouch!!   But in giving there is none of this pressure.  I am responsible for just my part.  Now that’s freeing!  What is it that I am trying to get anyway?  Approval, recognition, rewards in Heaven?  I might very well receive these things. They may be byproducts of my obedience, but where is my focus?  On me.  If I seek to give instead, the focus and honor shift to the One who gave me the gift to use in the first place. He is glorified.

Present my gift and give.  Reminds me of the little drummer boy.  That little boy presented and laid his finest gift before the King. Then the boy picked it up and played his best for Him.  Rum pum pum pum.  And HE smiled.

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!