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Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to succeed.  I asked myself the question, “What does it look like for Amy Coxwell to be a success?”  Because, honestly, I can’t say that I’ve ever really felt like a success in my life.

So, is success what the world says: wealth, power, notoriety, a hot husband/wife, position, possessions, fame, comfort, a vacation home, a Land Rover, and iPad, a private jet…?

Or, is success what the church says: high church attendance, safety, kids with good grades and draw pretty pictures in Sunday School, a nice house, a healthy marriage, the ability to tithe more than 10%, going on mission trips to Africa, reading your Bible every morning, having God’s “blessing”…?

Or is it neither?

In thinking about success, I go to Jesus (since He is our model after all), and I can’t help but look at his life on earth and wonder if people thought he was a success.  Even after the resurrection, the world was not looking at him saying, “Now that’s a guy who had it made.  I want to be like him!”  No, they mocked him and killed those who followed him.

Jesus’ life was anything but glamorous.

Matthew 8:19-20 says,

Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

The Son of God didn’t even have a place to sleep.  That doesn’t sound very successful to me…not even by church standards.

But, I am not pointing a finger at anyone but myself.  I am guilty.  I am guilty of wanting glamor in my life.  I am guilty of wanting to be known. I am guilty of desiring to be successful.

But what if success doesn’t look the way I think it does?  What if God’s “blessing” on our life is not the American dream?

What if success isn’t having a great apartment, a perfect husband, a high-paying job, my name in print, a happy family, a nice car….?  What if success is the exact opposite?

What if success is emptiness?  Loneliness?  Poverty?  Brokenness?  Suffering?  Invisibility?

Not having a great place to live, but having no place to lay my head.

Not being safe, but moving in the face of fear and risking it all.

Not having a perfect family, but leaving family behind.

Not having great wealth, but giving everything away.

Not comfort, but sacrifice.

What if success is chasing after Christ and nothing else?  What if success means living out of my gifts and talents, being what only I can be, no matter the cost?

That success is terrifying.