Everyone has goals of some sort, yes? Career, family, causes. Common or unheard of. Something drives us. Something gives us a reason to get out of bed at five in the morning.
The point is to achieve these goals, to achieve success. We imagine that success comes only in one flavor and that it’s all or nothing. But that’s not quite right. What happens when we are successful in ways we may not have intended?
I feel like I may be a good example of this.
People would ask me throughout my time in college what kind of job I wanted. My usual response was that, simply, I didn’t have a clue. For a while I wasn’t even sure what I wanted to be doing, let alone where I’d be working. But, since I was a teenager, I’d often make remarks about future family plans:
“When I have kids I want to…”
“If I have a boy, I want to be sure to…”
“What kind of school do I want to place my kids in? Public, private, or home school?”
And then there was the constant designing in my head of the perfect spouse.
I’m pretty sure that at some point in high school I was certain I would marry a British redhead from Philadelphia. Obviously, I was at least slightly delusional. Still, it was easy to see where my goals were placed. I was setting myself up to be a family man.
Oddly enough, I’m in my mid-twenties and find myself a career man. It’s not that my goals have changed; it’s my circumstances.
I’m less than a year out of college and am three months into a job where I manage a team of twenty contractors. I’ve made decisions about retirement planning when most friends my age are waiting tables.
Objectively, I have realized I’m successful for my life stage, but not in the way I wanted. My plan had me married by now, possibly with a young kid or one on the way. Now I’d consider it parade-worthy just to go on a date.
It’s been a cause of struggle for me since I started my new job, wrestling with my own plans while being faced with a divergent plan.
I’ve only recently been humbling myself to take that divergent path because this fact is becoming clear: I’m successful where God wants me to be. I’m not starting a family because that’s not what the Lord has for me. I am starting a career because God wants me to.
Proverbs 19:21 says, “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” (ESV)
This is the same purpose to which we are called in Ephesians 4. It is the purpose to which we are to strive as athletes strive for victory. This has been my struggle. Admitting that not only am I playing for the wrong game, but that I’m playing in the wrong league.
There are many variations of the concept of success. Each person defines it differently. The important element is that you pursue God’s idea of success for you—however that may look.
How may God be leading you a different direction than you’re looking?
Photo credit: Sami Koykka