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Doug Creamer Column: Success

A coach asked me the other day how I would define success.

Winning the game was the first thing that came to mind.

According to the coach, that was incorrect. If the players on my team gave their very best and the opponents also gave their best, the winner could be determined by a lucky bounce, the clock running out while you are ahead or a call by the referee. In those cases, the win would not have defined success in the game.

Doug Creamer writes a religion column twice a month for the SNAP.

Success, in this coach’s opinion, was getting players to give their very best in each game. If each player gave their very best in each game, the likely result would be a series of wins. If the game ended with a loss, then the players would at least know they gave their best. There would be the sadness of a defeat, but without regrets.

The problem comes when the game ends and players know that they could have played better or competed more fiercely. They did not dig within themselves to bring out their very best. The drive to succeed did not emerge and the victory was not achieved.

I spoke to an athlete recently about an upcoming game. I wondered what the athlete was expecting the outcome to be. Their opponents had not experienced a loss in quite a while; in fact, they were a highly-ranked statewide team. I asked the student if they were familiar with the story of David and Goliath. Well, yeah, but their opponents were simply a better team. I reminded the student athlete that Goliaths have to fall. Victory was possible.

We are often convinced that records can’t be changed. Superior coaches always win. I believe that each time a game begins anything can happen. Sometimes in sports it is referred to as the “Cinderella” team winning the game or the tournament. One team enters the field believing that David can defeat Goliath, giants sometimes fall, victory belongs to the victor. The weaker team entered the contest hungry for a win.

Success on a playing field may be achieved even if the victory was lost.

Suppose an inferior team almost defeats a far superior team? Suppose an inferior team keeps a superior team from a complete slaughter. Suppose an inferior team creates doubt and fear even though they ultimately lose. Making your opponent respect you can be success.

So what does success look like in the Christian walk?

Some might suggest a sin free life, but there was only one who achieved that. Maybe it’s being a pious person of prayer. I agree that communication with God is critical, but I believe God wants us to share His message with the world. Some may define success as those who enter the ministry, but even that falls short because some ministers have a negative impact on the world.

Success in the Christian walk does not imply winners and losers. I don’t believe God is cheering for some churches or individuals and rooting against others. God desires that each person and church achieve success. In the spiritual realm, that is possible. The difference between spiritual and athletic success is that all people are capable of success.

A spiritually successful life is one that raises others up, but not by putting some or even oneself down.

God is looking for people who will read and apply His word to their lives. God is looking for people who will lift up concerns to Him in prayer and listen for His still, small voice. God is looking for people who will build others up, not tear them down. God is looking for people who will give of themselves to help others. God is after finding people who will love others, help others in their spiritual and personal journeys; people who are more interested in raising others up than raising themselves up.

God loves those who serve and protect, those who consider others better than themselves, those who give more than they receive, those who honor versus seeking honor, and those who heal versus those who wound.

I believe that success in God’s book is achievable by every believer. I want to encourage you to consider the qualities God looks for in each of us. God is looking for men and women of honor and integrity who will carry His message of love to the hurting and downcast. Sometimes it’s those inside the church and sometimes it is those who are lost. Living a life filled with love, hope, faith and caring for the needs of others is what I would consider a successful Christian life.

Contact Doug Creamer at PO Box 777, Faith, NC 28041or doug@dougcreamer.com