The Pursuit of Success

I’m delighted to see women using their gifts by serving in more prominent positions in public life. The UK, Denmark, Thailand, Trinidad, Iceland and Bangladesh all have female prime ministers. The 116th U.S. Congress includes a record number of women. Women serve in more diverse ways within the Christian community as well.

As opportunities for women broaden, a batch of books geared toward helping women live up to their potential currently fills the shelves of book stores. Three of the five non-fiction hardbacks on the New York Times best seller list are written by women. Girl, Stop Apologizing, by Rachel Hollis, a pep talk for women’s success, is number three on Amazon while I am at the keyboard this moment.

As a Christian woman, how can I live in such a way as to maximize my potential? We sisters are bombarded with messages about success. Where do we discover how to succeed? For that matter, what does success even look like and how do we pursue it?

My computer dictionary defines success as the achievement of an aim or purpose. Some writers urge us to stop living to please other people and to start living to please ourselves, but isn’t that just exchanging one idol for another? So, I asked some like-minded friends to define success and some of their responses include:

  • Following through on the calling God has placed on your life.
  • Being satisfied …with what you do and what you have…seeing those you have mentored become independent and successful.
  • Fulfilling God’s purposes for my life.
  • Faithfulness.
  • Giving to others [by sharing] skills, time, love, food, encouragement and …accountability.
  • Finding joy every day.
  • Loving God; loving others.

What a great bunch of friends I have. Most of their responses focus on God or others.

The Word of God has a lot to say about our purpose. Both the Old and New Testament speak again and again about glorifying God. Perhaps Paul stated our overarching purpose most passionately in his prayer in 2 Thes.1:11-12, “And in this regard we pray for you always, that our God will make you worthy of his calling and fulfill by his power your every desire for goodness and every work of faith, that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

If glorifying God is our purpose and achieving it is the believer’s mark of success, how do we do it? This passage and others have a lot to say about that, but for now I’ll give you some passages to explore: Ephesians 2:10; Matthew 28:18-20; 1 Cor. 10:31. This month let’s keep the idea of glorifying God in our minds as we study the Word: what does it mean to glorify God? Does it look different for different people? Come back next month to read more on this topic.

Beth Barron and her husband have worked cross-culturally for decades, first in the Middle East and now in the U.S. She teaches English to refugees and uses her writing skills to advocate for them. Beth enjoys writing, biking, vegetable gardening and connecting heart to heart with other women. She is involved in her church's External Focus ministry. She and her husband have three adult children, two daughters-in-love and three grandsons. Beth graduated from Rice University in Houston, attended Dallas Theological Seminary and is committed to life-long learning.