Measure of Success

Like I mentioned in the last post, the past month for me has been one of much change and adjustment as we welcomed our 3rd child into the world. It has been a time of true joy getting to know this sweet little girl, and has also been a time of re-evaluating my priorities. As all of you moms know, it isn’t as if we have loads of time standing free in our lives before the addition of a new child (or the addition of any new responsibility, really) that is just waiting to be filled! Life is 100% full to begin with, so things have to shift around and priorities have to be re-addressed to find a healthy balance again.

For the first couple of weeks I think my subconscious aim was to “try to stay on top of things.” The challenge each day was to keep up with the tasks that I was used to doing before our daughter’s arrival, as well as to fit in nursing and caring for a tiny newborn as well. It didn’t take more than a couple of days to realize that this task would be nearly impossible and that my energy supply would likely not last more than a few weeks, if even that long.

During my times in the word lately,  the overwhelming and gracious message that God has been speaking to me has been to examine what it means to be successful each day. Do I rate my success on how in order my house is or how many tasks on my to-do list I make it through? Do I rate it on how well I am doing at getting my baby on a schedule while still giving my older kids loads of meaningful experiences each day? Do I rate it on my ability to do all that I need to at home while still making time for “ministry?” I am sure you could add your own standards to this list. God has been lovingly showing how in many of these types of goals, there is a great potential to come to see myself as a failure.

As I’ve been going through the book of Ephesians recently, a number of passages have stood out that talk about the manner in which we live rather than the specific tasks that we are to successfully complete.  Ephesians 1: 3-4 talks about walking in a manner worthy of the calling that we’ve received and instructs us to walk with humility, gentleness, patience, love, and peace. Ephesians 4:22-24 tells us to put off our old self and to put on our new self that is created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:29 talks about making sure our speech is good for building other up and that it gives grace to those who hear. Verse 4:32 talks about being kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. Verses 5:1-2 commands us to be imitators of God and to walk in love. Ephesians 6:10-11 calls us to arm ourselves in order to be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

As I’ve meditated on these verses and some others, God has been showing me that even in this busy phase of life with many tasks that will be left undone, I have been given a standard of success that is achievable, by the grace of God. Ephesians 1: 3-4 tells us that “we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… that we should be holy and blameless before him.” We may not be able to do everything that we would love to be able to do in a day, and we might feel like we are far from accomplishing every worthwhile task, but we have been given the means to do what we do each day in a way that is holy and blameless before God! That to me has become a much greater measure of success. And the best part of this measure is that where we fall short, Christ makes up for it on the cross.

As we daily yield ourselves to the Spirit of God, perhaps we won’t look like the Super Mom that we’d like to be, but in the things that we do accomplish, as simple or mundane the tasks may be, we have the ability in Christ to do them righteously, with holiness, blamelessly, in love, with tenderheartedness, with kindness, with grace, humbly, with forgiveness, with patience, while building others up, and in peace, etc. Walking in such a manner is a great success.

And to anyone who is curious, by writing this post, I am not in any way claiming to be one who has come close to having mastered these things. I bet most of  you are much farther along than I am in learning such lessons! I have just been so grateful to God for the encouragement that He has been giving me through His word and for the direction in which He is pointing me that I felt compelled to share what He has spoken to me in hopes that it might bless some of you as well.

Do you find it easy to define your success by what you do rather than how you do it? What things make you feel successful in your day to day life?

(Post by: Ashley)


7 Responses to “Measure of Success”

  1. 1 Shilo August 27, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    My answer to my husbands question, “how was your day?” used to be quite often, “well, I didn’t really accomplish much.” I would be busy and work hard but still had the sense that it hadn’t been enough because it didn’t look like much. Once I caught on to what I was saying (it took awhile!), I realized how wrong that thinking was! The things that I long to do, especially teaching my children, doesn’t yield a tangible result but I’ve since come to believe wholeheartedly that this is HOLY WORK and infinitely more important than a great list of things accomplished. At times, I slip back into believing that old lie and I just have to preach truth to myself once again!
    Thanks for sharing what you have been learning, Ashley. May God bless you and your family today! Have a great weekend!

  2. 2 Phyllis August 28, 2010 at 6:54 am

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Naturally, I’m not one who measures my success by the things I get done, but lately I think I’ve headed in that direction too often. And I can always use a reminder to do everything in love.

    I usually feel pretty successful if I can go to bed at night and think back on a calm, kind, patient day with everyone around.

  3. 3 ambrosia4 August 31, 2010 at 7:17 pm

    thank you so much for sharing this! I am a huge “list-maker” so I always feel more productive when I have checked items off my list and can see results at the end of the day. I love what you gleaned from Ephesians- it’s not so much about the stuff we do than about the heart we have while doing it. Reminds me of this: “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart (1 Sam 16:7)” Such freedom in this…to follow Him purposefully, yet not under pressure.

  4. 4 ambrosia4 August 31, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    oh, and congratulations on your new little one – she’s precious 🙂


  5. 5 Christina September 3, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Thanks for sharing this. It is exactly what I needed to read today. Thanks for helping me get things back into perspective. I am a new mom (okay, my little girl is already 6 months old), and I have really struggled with measuring up to my own standards of what I should be able to accomplish in a day. Anyway, thanks for this encouraging post. May God bless you.

  6. 6 richelle September 5, 2010 at 7:22 am

    i’m definitely one of those people who naturally measure success by how much i get done and how well i’ve met up to often unrealistic standards of what i should (more accurately “wish” I could have accomplished); another strong barometer for me is the praise or words of affirmation of those around me… does someone notice how much i’ve accomplished and do they appreciate it.

    since both of those evaluative measures are not biblical, i’m trying to retrain my thinking (hoping the “feeling” will trail along behind) by asking myself:
    1) do i come to the end of my day and can i say, “Lord, to the best of my ability, i’ve done everything as unto you and in those areas where i failed, i’ve already repented and asked forgiveness from you and others.”
    2) has the focus of my time been sent on serving and loving others, investing in their lives… or has it been spent serving and loving myself (granted that a certain amount of time does need to be spent on self… but that time comes naturally whereas the other isn’t quite so automatic)?
    3) have i been gentle, kind, patient, slow to anger, thankful, joyful, peaceful, content and positive with my words and in the things that i’ve said/done? …recognizing that my thoughts aren’t always on target, but that i have a choice of what to do with wrong thinking before it becomes wrong words or actions.

    sounds so nice on paper… but the last part is recognizing that on those days where i can answer yes or mostly yes to those three questions, it was only by the grace of God and His Spirit working and changing me.

  7. 7 Koren September 9, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Thank you for the gentle reminder of God’s love and grace. I have lived on the mission field for a while, but every day brings new challenges. I have been blessed again and again by this blog. It’s so encouraging to hear how God works in the hearts of His people. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for the encouragement.

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