How to Define Success As A Christian

The new year is around the corner and I’m thinking about how much I have grown this year, by God’s grace. I’m setting goals for next year that will help me be most effective in the mission God has given me. However, it took me some time to realize what success really means for me as a Christian, and before knowing this I was, honestly, a little lost and I had no drive or passion in the things I did or the way I lived my life.

We sometimes make resolutions and set goals not considering what God wants and what we really want. I think though we may sometimes want the temporary comforts of life, we all really want eternity. We want something that will last, we don’t want to waste our lives on things that don’t matter. Christians know that our true desires are fulfilled in Jesus, and the life that we have as a result of believing in Him is abundant life — the fullest life, no the matter circumstances or seasons we go through.

So if we’re making resolutions and setting goals that are inconsiderate of what God wants and what we want, are we really achieving success when we accomplish those goals? I think not.

I think it’s important for us to determine what success is for each of us. When we have an overall view of success, we are then able to set and accomplish goals that help us become successful.

What Is The Definition of Success?

How do we define success as Christians? Christians should have a different definition of success from non-Christians because Jesus should be at the center of our lives and everything we do. At the same time, success looks different for all of us, so defining it will be different for each of us.

For me, I found my definition of success when I realized what I was not willing to fail at… by almost failing at it. I was trying to become a successful entrepreneur but my home was falling apart. My involvement in church decreased, my relationship with my husband started to be affected, and I wasn’t giving my daughter the structure the she needed to thrive. Plus, my business endeavors were going nowhere. I was frustrated, and disconnected from God because I was trying to live up to a definition of success that wasn’t founded in Him.

If we’re not careful, we can define success by the amount of money we make, how high we climb the corporate ladder, how good of a parent we are (based on our children’s behavior, grades, etc.), or the number of followers we have on Instagram. The problem with defining success in this way, without God being at the heart of it, is we seek these things instead of God. When God is not in it, we won’t experience the complete fulfillment of our “success” because, ultimately, He is what we desire most.

Success in Christ

Christians are most successful when we are connected to God and living our lives for Him. The specifics of that vary from person to person and may or may not be directly connected to what one does for a living, but success in life in general will always have something to do with loving God and loving people because those are the two greatest commandments.

What does it mean to love God? Loving God means to have faith in Him and obey Him. (Deut. 11:1, 13, 22; Deut. 19:8-9, Deut. 30:16, 20, Joshua 22:5, John 14:15 etc.) To obey Him we need to believe in Jesus so that the Holy Spirit can live in us and help us to please God (John 14:15-16). We need to read God’s word to know what He wants us to do and how He wants us to live.

What does it mean to love people? Loving people means continually “laying our lives down” for each other. (John 15:13) In other words, this includes putting others before ourselves, not having selfish ambitions, practicing the Fruit of the Spirit (again, we need the Holy Spirit’s help) including patience, self-control, kindness, etc. Obviously one of the best ways to love someone is to show them who Jesus is and help them grow in relationship with Him.

Success Is Different For Each of Us

Here is the part that make success unique to each of us — each of us has different talents, personality traits, backgrounds, ethnicities, passions, families, etc. We take all of these things into account when we determine how exactly we will live successful lives.

For me, simply put, success looks like having a growing relationship with God, inspiring my family to faith in Jesus, and using my gifts and talents for God’s glory. I think God leaves the “how” up to me based on who He made me to be.

Right now that looks like respecting my husband, nurturing my relationship with him, training my toddler in the things of God and caring for her physically, emotionally, etc. It looks like stewarding the home God has given us to live in for this season. It looks like being a pastor’s wife, supporting my husband in youth ministry. It looks like being active in the church as a member of the church, not just because I’m married to the youth pastor. It looks like being kind to strangers and smiling when I go to the grocery store. It looks like writing blogs, books and Bible studies. It looks like developing multiple business endeavors using the skills I’ve developed over the years. It looks like giving financially and intentionally to causes God has given me a passion for, as well as to missions and, off course, to the Church.

My definition of success allows for seasonal changes, but is rooted God. And because He is my desire, it fulfills me personally. I’m a dreamer, so I have so many ideas for the future that I continually align with how to be a successful Christian.

Journaling Questions:

I have some journaling questions for you to define success for yourself as well as how you will actually live a successful life today. I’d be honored if you’d be willing to share your definition of success in the comments!

  • What does it look like when you have a healthy relationship with God?
  • What are your gifts, talents, and strengths?
  • What are you passionate about?
  • At the end of your life, what do you want the people closest to you to be able to say about you?
  • What are you not willing to fail at? What does God not want you to fail at?
  • What is your definition of success? ⭐️

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