Home / A Pineywoods Manifesto / What Is True Success?

What Is True Success?

What is true success?
If your success is not on your own terms, if it looks good to the world but does not feel good in your heart, it’s not success at all. -Anna Quindlen

 

 

 

Last week I inquired of my Facebook friends, “How do you define true success.” I’ve been blown away by the wisdom in the following responses.

I’ve also been reminded of how many special friends I have who “have their head on straight.”

At the end of these comments, I’ve posted a story “Most Likely to Succeed” from my first book, Stories from the Creekbank. I believe you’ll enjoy it.

Curt’s definition of success: “To be a man God can use, be respected by my wife and sons, and be used to make this world a better place.” (This isn’t original but “cobbled together” from others. )

Here are comments I received. To add your definition to the list, use the comment section at the end of this blog entry or email me at curtiles@aol.com

From Sharon Ritchie Hahler:

HI Curt, I thought your question very interesting and as I pondered it for the day I actually heard someone else’s definition that I really liked. Sorry that we got in too late to post it on facebook but here it is: “Success is how many people you are discipling to be like Christ.” This was stated by Dr. Gerald Harris who writes for the Ga. Baptist newspaper

Brian Bond commented on your status:

“In a word success is faith. In believing God’s promises I believe that through Jesus I already am who God created me to be, so any attempt at success on my part is worthless.”

Krista Duhon commented on your status:

“It is not easy for me to articulate “success” … it is an emotional thing. It can be measured in another person’s smile … a child’s insight … and a million other unexpected places.”

Marcia Wood Evans commented on your status:

“Finding and doing God’s will for your life….a true success story!”

Mary Yeates Allen commented on your status:

“Making a difference in eternity.”

Sherri Mashburn commented on your status:

“Happiness”

Kim Dickens Brannon commented on your status:

“Success to me is to fulfill God’s plan for me on this earth. His plan is for me to go and share the Good News of His Son to a lost world. His plan is for me to follow the leading of His Holy Spirit.”

Pam Kermit Soileau commented on your status:

“”Well done, good and faithful servant…” ~ The Master…Bro. Kermit”

Brian Bond commented on your status:

“In a word success is faith. In believing God’s promises I believe that through Jesus I already am who God created me to be, so any attempt at success on my part is worthless.”

Carolyn Schales Simmons commented on your status:

“Success to me is having the assurance that you have Jesus in your heart and know that one day you will be with him.”

Bill Robertson commented on your status:

“Success is having said about you what is written about you in God’s word. When Jesus died He said, “It is finished!”. What was written about him could be said of him. My prayer is that when I come to end of the trail that what is written can be said of me. If so, then I will be a success.”

Ginny Cobbs Henderson commented on your status:

“my personal definition of success is a happy, healthy family.”

Success – Romans 12:1 “offer up your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your Spiritual act of service.””

Gale Gill Willis commented on your status:

“Success, “Enter in my good and faithful servant.””

Ruthie Shirley Huckaby commented on your status:

“My personal definition of success- To raise my boys to become Respectable, Successful men and for them to raise their children the same.”

Greg Baggett commented on your status:

“To live my life in such a way as to magnify and honor Jesus Christ. To die to self and live for Him. Galatians 2:20.”Most Likely to Succeed

Most Likely to Succeed

“If you measure success by large bank accounts, titles before and after names, or worldly fame, I’m not much of a success. But if true success is measured in feeling you are making a positive difference… and having a small part in seeing God work miracles in people’s lives, then I guess you could say I am very successful.”

-Curt Iles from the book Stories from the Creekbank. Copyright 2000 Creekbank Stories.

It was Saturday in the middle of the busy summer camp season. After a great week of youth camp I was enjoying lunch with some of our summer staff. Across the dining hall a group was having their 10 year HS class reunion. I enjoyed watching them as they laughed and visited after being apart for ten years.

All of these guests were former students from my years as a high school teacher and administrator. As I observed them my mind drifted back to so many warm memories of seeing them grow up.

A group of these former students came over to me with an old tattered red yearbook. They giggled as they showed me a picture from twenty-five years ago. There I was sitting on a stack of encyclopedias in my early 1970’s bellbottoms. Under the picture of me and one of my lifelong friends, Colleen Ford Tyler, was the caption:

Senior Boy and Girl voted Most Likely to Succeed

The staffers sitting around me really enjoyed the picture. Especially my long hair!

I’m still amazed at pictures from that time period when I realize how long we wore our hair then. It was hard for this group of staffers to believe their bald middle-aged director once had long hair and bangs!

Well, the former students left, laughing, hunting someone else to embarrass. All of the summer staff returned to eating what was probably our twentieth hamburger lunch of the summer.

Then I couldn’t help it…. I turned to these staffers and said, “Well, can you believe someone selected “Most likely to succeed” by his classmates would end up being just an old camp manager?”

Their reply was immediate and impassioned. It was best stated by Wendy, our recreation director who has worked at Dry Creek for four years: “Bro. Curt, what could be more successful than being involved in seeing lives changed daily by the Lord?” One by one they chimed in on the opportunities we have at camp to be a direct part of what God is doing.

I smiled at their reply… Because I felt the same way. More than anything to me, success is being part of where God is working… and I’ve never seen a place where He works more consistently than camps. I recalled the past week when over forty young people accepted Jesus as their personal Savior and many others made life changing commitments.

I thought about Wendy. How I’ve watched God work in her life through camp over a period of years. As a result of this experience she is in seminary seeking God’s will on a vocation in the camping ministry.

Then I thought back to an event in my life that happened about the time of my bell bottomed long haired picture. I was at summer camp youth camp at Dry Creek the same camp where I now serve as director. God really spoke to my life and heart concerning giving my vocational choice to His will. During the invitation time, in a moment that is still clear in my mind, I went to the front of the Tabernacle and simply told God, “I’m ready to do whatever You want me to do. Just lead and I’ll follow.” Little did I know that decision would eventually lead me back to manage the very camp I grew up in.

If you measure success by large bank accounts, titles before and after names, or worldly fame, I’m not much of a success. But if true success is measured in feeling you are making a positive difference… and having a small part in seeing God work miracles in people’s lives… and watching the Wendys of this world grow into Christian leaders, then I guess you could say I am very successful.

I’m so thankful God has given me the privilege of being part of the camping ministry. What a joy to be on the cutting edge of what He is doing! Each day I get to serve Him. Yes, most of the time it is not glorious and sometimes frustrating but I’m in a place where I know He is working and I have the awesome opportunity to be a part of it all.

 

 

 

About Curt Iles

I write to have influence and impact through well-told stories of my Louisiana and African sojourn.

Check Also

The Jericho Road

  High on the Jericho Road   It’s a story that disturbs me each time ...

2 comments

  1. HI Curt, I thought your question very interesting and as I pondered it for the day I actually heard someone else's definition that I really liked. Sorry that we got in too late to post it on facebook but here it is: "Success is how many people you are discipling to be like Christ." This was stated by Dr. Gerald Harris who writes for the Ga. Baptist newspaper. He stayed with us for a couple of nights while he was gathering information to do an article on Sturgis. We really enjoyed his stay and look forward to reading his article. Keep praying for Sturgis! Love and prayers, Sharon

  2. Curt; Here is one old man who has known of your success for more than 40 years. It influenced me for nearly as long, even when I was in the wrong place in Life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Shares