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Sister Judy Nielsen, OSF

Spiritual Direction in the Franciscan Tradition

Franciscan Community of Divine Mercy

My Blog


What Is Success?

Posted on 26 July, 2014 at 2:05
Hello again.   I have been away for a long while as life sometimes requires of us.  Now that I am back I will be posting here more often.  Thank you to those who continued to return and to those who sent emails to ask if I would be posting again.  I want you to know that I did get your messages.  I want you to know that you can post your concerns here and we can talk about it.  Be careful with yourself and send a private email if your wish to include personal information.  I want you to know that your are prayed for daily.

So let's begin by talking about success.

I have a friend preparing to move to another state for a new job.  She is, of course, excited about the possibilities and the opportunity.  I am happy and excited for her new beginning.  It was a long process from "What should I do?" to "This must be it!"  The journey wound through many doubts, hopes and much thinking about if the move would add to her hopes of increasing success within the company.   

Now that the time for the move is here we have been talking more about what success will look like. Questioning if a successful climb to her business goal will be enough or will it take more to feel that her life has been successful when she arrives at the place she wants to be in the business world.  It is my hope and prayer that she will add much more to her life.  Beginning to ask the questions and searching for the answers is a great place to begin to grow.   

We need our business life.  God made a whole world that includes work for our hands.   He also made us in a way that we need to be a whole creation balanced with work, love, community life, hobbies and rest.

We need to ask ourselves those tough questions about success:  Is it just more money?  Is it finding the right person with which to share our lives?  Is it friends that are close and caring or is it a higher number on our Facebook page?  Is it knowing that we've done our best and contributed to what is good and right in our business lives and the world around us or is it collecting connections on LinkedIn and finding people that we see as profitable?  In our spiritual lives we call this questioning discernment.  

Here are some suggestions if you should chose to explore success in your own life:

Discovering our answers can't happen without first having a willingness to be aware.  To take the time to think about it. That means that we intend to take full responsibility for our own decisions, get into action & turn over to God the responsibility for the outcome.  Life works that way anyway but acknowledging it will move away our fears of letting God help us and be with us in our everyday life.    

We are talking about committing to being aware and participating with God as opposed to letting God know what we think the finished product should be - He may have better in mind.  We'll call this a working definition of humility which is one word that represents our understanding that we are not God.  Somethings only God can fix.  Somethings only God knows and understands - we call that the mystery of God or Faith.  And, somethings just need God's assistance to work.  If we acknowledge this and live like we understand it life gets better.

The basic thread that runs through this discernment process is always:  
1) Is this temptation or opportunity?
2) Is it surrounded by confusion or calm?
3) Am I willing to put it on paper and talk to someone I trust so my thinking is real to me?
4) What is my experience of God?   Does what I am considering fit that experience? 
5) Would He communicate this to me in this way or want this for me?
6) Does it feed my desire to be of greater good in His service no matter the outcome or does it feed my ego and self importance requiring public credit, approval & my ideal of success?
7) Am I absolutely sure I'm right (usually a mistake) 
8) Am I willing to be in conversation with God about it or am I worried about His response?

Putting all this down on paper or on your computer or tablet will help you see your thoughts.
I hope to continue working on this project in my own life.  I hope God saves me from thinking I have mastered it and always know what I am doing without giving it any thought.   No one is perfect.  Life is not perfect but it is always good.   A personal commitment to become aware and accountable may be all that is required as we do the footwork toward our dreams and goals because God is in charge of the outcome.  Because He cares.  Always.


Categories: What is Success?

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4:55 on 13 July, 2020 
ben says...

I've been wanting to read an article that discusses a topic about success and just so you know, I was really inspired and motivated because of what you have shared with us. Attaining a successful life is not really easy and requires perseverance, efforts and it is true that we need to also work really hard for it. We all know that there will be lots of circumstances that we will encounter as we reach our goals in life, but always remember that everything will be worth it in the end. Anyway, please know that I'll definitely jot down every important detail you have written in this article so that I can always check them once things seem to be not happening the way it was planned.
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4:57 on 23 July, 2019 
My friends and I actually met last Friday night and one of the things that we have talked about is success. What of the things that I have realized is that we all have our own definition of success. It might be something materialistic for others but for me success means being able to see the people that I love successful as well. However, whatever definition we have, as long as we make sure that we do the right thing in order to achieve our dreams, then the success that we will be having will be all worth it. I also realized that it is good to assess our lives and the plans that we have from time to time.
Reply Sister Judy
21:14 on 18 June, 2019 
Nice to see some students and academic endeavors here. The comments reflect real thoughts about how success will look in your life. You can't succeed without first investing some thought into where you are going and how you hope to get there. Another question to ponder would be who will you meet there? When you arrive will like who you are and who you have become? I like the story about the ship: if the captain steers to the left or right he will hit the dock,damage his cargo and injure his crew so his talent must lie in taking all that he knows and has learned to stay in the middle of the ship channel to bring his team home safely. Success might well be just that: using all that you know, all you can learn, the resources God gave you and the people he provided to be moving toward a greater good.
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16:50 on 5 May, 2019 
For me success is the goal that everybody what to reach, but its not that easy, you need to work hard for it, need to sacrifice and put all your 100% effort just to get it and you need the guidance of our lord god. I can say that I am already successful if I can give back all the sacrifices and effort of my family to finance and support me in my life, especially in my studies. We should also do better ways to get it, you cannot call that your success if it's not done by your hardship.
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7:57 on 3 May, 2019