What is Success?

Background photo courtesy of wallsfield.com via flickr

Someone once visited my blog for the first time, read the stuffs and came back and asked;
“Are you not bothered?”
“About what?” I said.
“The traffic on your blog…”
“What’s wrong with it?” I asked as though I knew not where he has headed.
“You have great contents but people seem to hardly come by. Few likes. Few comments. I don’t know how many followers you have sha…”
I smiled.

“Oh… Well, I am not bothered. People read my blog. They tell me they were blessed and that alone gives me the feeling of God’s pleasure. My concern is not the comments, but the impact.”
“OK then… Great work!”

I thanked him. As he walked away.

Truth be told, I lied. I check my WordPress stats everyday; refresh my Notifications every time especially when I just published.

And as I read through my Reader, I see blogs with great content like mine but with greater success by the numbers. I see blogs with hundreds people engaging the writer and the piece and I compare. I am frustratingly discouraged. Yet, I continue to write. I continue to read. I continue to deliver great contents.

Earlier in the year I asked my editor if he knew anyone who could be my blog critic. I figured there must be something wrong with my posts as the stats tell me. But the guy said the Word of truth needs not be criticized. He advised I requested for the honest opinion of some people about my blog as well as ask them to keep their comments about my posts coming throughout the year with the goal of making me better. I did and the response was good.

Last month, as I read Don Cousins’ Experiencing Leadershift, I saw that the problem is not peculiar to me. He shared the stories of several pastors who were complaining about the stagnancy the numbers exclaimed in their ears. Some were angry. Some became hard-driven. Others frustrated. Worse, some began to compromise their messages.

Cousin says these are the dangers of focusing on the numbers as our evaluation of success. I agree with him. We must take note of the numbers no doubt, but we must not focus on them as determinants of our success.

“Success defined by numbers is the language of the world and reflects the economy upon which this world is built. Applying the language and economy of this world to the Kingdom of God is unsafe and unsound.”

As I began pondering on this, I started to ask about how then I am to measure success. I want to be a successful blogger. I want to be a successful speaker and writer. But how can I know when I am successful? I know you also want to be successful in the work God has placed in your hands. You probably have had to ask yourself if you are being successful.

Don shares his thoughts on this and what I call the 4Fs of success. I first read about the first three in Leslie Haskin’s Held.

1. Your faithfulness.

The first parameter for the evaluation of your success according to our Kingdom’s standard is your faithfulness. Rick Warren once said that God will not judge you by what he has not given you. You will be judged for your faithfulness with the gifts, talents, passions, personality and experiences you have been given. The story of the talents come to mind here. Do you notice that the Master commends both guys for their faithfulness and not for the amount they brought back in?

2. Your fruitfulness.

Jesus said our Father is most glorified when we bear fruits. Success in God’s kingdom is measured by how much your life and purpose pursuit manifest the fruit of the spirit as well as the fruit of good works. How much do you love? How much joy do you experience? Do you have peace? How long can you wait in the queue?

3. Your fulfillment.

The disciples that Jesus sent on a missionary journey came back with their hearts full of joy. They were fulfilled doing the work. Your purpose is the point where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep needs. Thus, we can measure success the Kingdom-way, by examining whether or not we feel God’s pleasure as we do what we do. Remaining in a work you are not fulfilled at does not only make you failure, it kills the success of others.

4. God’s fame.

Jesus said we should let our light so shine in a way that men see our works and glorify our Father in Heaven. The ultimate focus of our faithfulness, fruitfulness and fulfilment must be to make God famous. There is a way we can work and only God will be glorified. My favourite song by Lecrae is Background. We must let God take the lead and we just play the background.

I still check my stats. I really would want you to drop a comment after reading this and like the post if you can. But I am learning not to measure the success of my pursuit by what the numbers say.

There is more dangerous effect of focusing on the numbers and that is Pride.

Noticing the numbers is valuable. But it is important we do not make them our focus lest we become successful in the wrong assignment!

©2014, Alabi AimPurpose IfeOluwa
All rights reserved.


20 thoughts on “What is Success?”

  1. Great one bro! It’s quite true that sometimes one would be concerned about the number. Especially when you feel people should drop by. However, there should be an intentional and deliberate effort to Focus on the one who determine and grade our success in other to avoid resentment.
    Keep on ‘Keeping’ on.
    With God, It can only get BETTER!!!


    1. Thanks Detola. I agree that focusing on our King as the measure of our success must be intentional. This intentionality begins with an attitude- one that comes from a knowledge that if your goal is to hear “Well done!” when we get home, nothing is more important now, than what God says about your work. Thanks for dropping by. It goes a long way to keep me going!


  2. This piece made me to remember the times that i got bothered when some of my posts on some social networks did not receive any attention, i sometimes wondered if what i wrote wasn’t sense making. With this piece, i’m much more encouraged to focus on these 4F’s rather than numbers!
    Aim! I must confess, some of us get challenged each time we visit your blog and personally i seldom wonder what kind of Spirit drives this dude on till i got to know that it’s all about God’s pleasures. I just get blessed and murmur my comments to myself.
    I won’t be surprised if one day, someone you don’t know talks on TV about one blogger who wouldn’t stop bothering them about getting to know their purpose till he/she eventually took it serious and when asked to mention the name of the blogger. It’s Aim-purpose!
    Bro, thank you so much for keeping this up inspite of whatever. Maybe if you had not,….. i can only imagine. Sincerely, It’s really a breathtaking piece you have up there.


    1. Hi Seantel! It’s nice to have you here. I am glad you can relate with the piece. I hope you never get weary in doing good. Thanks for your kind words! They mean a lot to me!


    1. When we are faithful in the use of our gift, making God’s fame our only intention, everything else will come- including the numbers! Thanks for your comment Christina! It is a pleasure to have you here!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Seantel just made me remember this:
    When I first gave my life to Christ, I enjoyed fresh Rhema(s) from the Holy Spirit, which I gladly posted on facebook with passion and vigour, without any dose of personal interest. I just wanted to post them, and of course the likes and comments were beyond my imagination (later I referred to them as more than what I could handle). Few months/years (for I’m not so sure, but it was a long time after) I visited my timeline on facebook, still astonished by these posts, the likes and comments they generated, I re-posted and shared them. This time, I wanted people to see that something that huge came out of my mind. I wanted to see the likes again! The attention was purely meant for my pleasure but alas the turnout was poor. I was discouraged. Since then, the rate at which I posted on facebook reduced, just because I gave a self standard to the revelations I share. If the likes are not up to fifteen then it’s not good, if the comments are not something like “young pastor of our time”,” more anointing”, “true talk bro, I’m really blessed”, then the post is not good.
    All we have to do is to lift God up and He’ll draw men unto him. In a nutshell, I agree with you, Aim, that when God is glorified, it’s a success. The numbers does matter but they shouldn’t be the standard neither should they be the yardstick for measuring our successes. I’m also guilty. From now on, I think I’ll consider my self a success once it glorifies my God. Sorry it’s this lengthy.


    1. Thanks for sharing your story. I am glad my message resonates with you. When our focus is on the numbers, we set ourselves up for disappointment because our success will depend on people- how they feel and how they choose to respond to our message. Yes, the numbers matter, but if God is our focus, we can trust Him to do us well! Thanks for dropping by.


  4. Great insights, bro. If every Christian would read, live and teach the truth embeded In this piece, we’d enjoy so much of heaven on earth. This is the real deal. Sharing right away.


    1. Tim! I agree with you that if we’ll be faithful, fruitful and fulfilled for God’s fame, we’d enjoy heaven on earth. I think the fact that every creature in heaven does just this, is what makes us pray so passionately, “Thy Kingdom come!” Thanks for dropping by!


  5. good one there! this would definitely change the perspective of writers who, on the assertions that when little or no one reacts to their post(s) in anyway such as liking, commenting or sharing them, then they are probably not making any sense, it creates a kind of low esteem too
    Personally, when I have things to share or add to what someone shares, I first thought if it was necessary in the first place, ‘since no one cares’ I’m sure you understand what I mean…But now, thanks for letting me know what really matters…sharing this!


    1. You’re very welcome Oluwafemi! Thanks for your comment. We should see some equally inspiring stuffs from you too now. Thanks for helping share and joining to help make God famous!


  6. was blessed by this piece. Would say I really get discouraged with numbers and sometimes see it as a failure but with the 4Fs at the back of my mind now I know all that matters is His pleasure


  7. Excellent points. May I add that I feel we should try to understand the scope of what we’re called to do. In Deuteronomy, Moses mentions, commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens. Some will have a wider reach than others. I try to remember that the sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor. 🙂


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