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What Does it Cost to Succeed?

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Most of us would say we want to be successful. Now, how you define it and I define it will differ, but it’s these differences that help to build our society. Nevertheless, these differences can also break us apart. When success becomes an obsession, we are made slaves to gods we don’t believe we worship. In turn, we place no limits on the sacrifices we’re willing to make, even when those decisions have a negative impact on others. But I get it – we all want to experience some type of success, and conceptually, there is nothing wrong with this idea. So then the questions become – are you willing to pay the cost to get where you want to go? Can you maintain your spiritual perspective while trying to achieve your goals?

Embracing the Concept of Success

If we take a step back for a moment and consider the word success, we’d notice that it is often used in relation to our careers and ambitions. The desire for such drive is often painted in a negative light because of its consuming power. Yet it is our choice as to where we place our priorities. This decision in fact can be positive if we are willing to put God first.

We also know that the need for success touches our personal lives. Whether it be our relationships, church positions, or even our workout plans – we want them to succeed. Sometimes, we so desperately want things to work out that we’re willing to sacrifice the truth, our boundaries, or even our own well-being to keep them intact. These types of decisions are not coming from a place of self-love. Instead, they are wrapped up in fear, and the hurt we cause ourselves is a cost too high to pay.

To embrace success in healthy way means to understand that our goal should be to live our most fulfilling life possible, through its constraints, its highs, and its lows. Maybe for today, my definition of success is surviving, and for today – that is enough. We find the courage to embrace change as we seek to redefine what success looks like in different parts our lives. And I know, change isn’t easy – but it’s necessary. It’s one of the highest costs of success. We pay with our discomfort and with our pain. We recognize that learning is essential, so that we don’t continue to make the same mistakes. Most importantly, our focus becomes more inward. We start to take an honest look at ourselves. We are able to ask – what do I need to change – instead of focusing on everyone else.

Success cannot come without honesty.

I recently knew someone who lied and didn’t realize that the person they lied to knew they were lying the entire time. What was done to save face resulted in the opposite. So tell me. Who was the lie for? Ourselves. We do it to make ourselves feel better, yet we cannot avoid the damage that it causes. We all must pay up. We can choose to rewrite any narrative we want, but that doesn’t make it true. We can choose to lie by omission, but that doesn’t make the pain any less. The simple reality is that we are going to fail. We will not always make the best decisions. That’s a part of the journey.  What we do next, however, is what crafts our character; success does not come without refinement.

I know that the truth can be painful. Whether it’s the truth about ourselves, our feelings, or our situations. Yet the irony is that the pain associated with success and failure are one in the same. To get to resolution, you must first get through the gates of frustration, disappointment, and shortcomings. It takes a refined sense of discipline and commitment to keep going. To push through when life seems to be pulling you under. To offer grace when you feel as though others (or yourself) don’t deserve it.

So then why does it seem like people with less-than-ideal morale compasses always make it to the “top”? Well, it’s how they’ve defined success. And they are also honest enough to admit to themselves that they are willing to do whatever it takes to get to where they want to go, even if the cost is their souls. We all pay – it’s just a question of how much?

Accepting the Cost

Rarely do we win in this life without feeling some sense of loss. Whether that be our old habits, relationships, finances, or the support of others, it takes some losing to accomplish some gaining. Even Paul said in Philippians 3:8:  Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ. We learn that all loss isn’t bad. Sometimes, the best thing that can happen to us is to lose what was holding us back, so that we can run towards where we need to be.

We hinder ourselves, however, when we get stuck between pride and stubbornness. If we dare to hold onto our ideals without considering that we may be wrong, we will never open ourselves up fully to the changes God needs us to make. We also have to be open to the idea that others can change too. No matter the years of experience, if we believe in God, then we have to believe that growth is possible, and learn to accept it, when we see it.

If we look to the Bible, we know that Abraham understood the concept losing and gaining. He demonstrated to us that in order for us to move forward, we must let go of the structures and constructs that feel safe to us. Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13-14: Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. If we’re willing to have courage, then we’re in a position to answer the call of Christ, no matter where it takes us. We learn how to go deeper with Christ, so that when He leads, we will trust Him, even if our decisions are questionable to others.

When the Costs are Too High

One of the greatest costs to succeed is the cost of community. Sometimes, to reach our goals, we become misunderstood. We find ourselves working at them alone or in a smaller group. As important as community is, not everyone can show up for us when we need them or be of good counsel. This doesn’t make them terrible, just unavailable. And so, we must keep going. God will provide the community that we need if we’re willing to trust Him throughout the process. They may not always come as fast as we would like, but they do show up.

So what is the true cost to succeed? It could be everything, but what’s more important is that we maintain our spiritual perspective while working towards our goals. If we do this, then we know when the costs become too high. We’ll know when we’re sacrificing our morality versus wading through difficult emotions. We’ll also be able to open our eyes to the changes that need to take place. No matter how difficult, we’ll trust in God, knowing that He will take us to exactly where we need to be. My prayer for us this week, is that we answer the call of Christ, that we put Him first, and that we let go of anything that is holding us back.

God bless and see you next time with Love’s an Action.

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