I think most parents would agree that the highest hopes we have for our children are for their health and happiness. Recently, I’ve been wondering if there was something more specific that I could be asking God for on my daughter Audrey’s behalf, and I considered praying for her future success.
It seemed like a good request, when defined as being fulfilled, finding our place in the world and thriving in it. But it’s the other, more materialistic, meanings that left me feeling a bit uncomfortable. You see, I don’t think success can be measured by money, gadgets, or the people we know. That kind of success is usually fleeting and doesn’t guarantee happiness.
Take Mother Teresa (1910–1997), who labored for decades among the poorest of the poor in Kolkata, India. She lived in poverty and often faced immense opposition and difficulties. Yet in my book—and, no doubt, God’s—she was definitely a success, someone whose life was entirely dedicated to Jesus and others, and who fulfilled her destiny.
That’s not to say that success and happiness can only be found in the kind of total devotion and abnegation that Mother Teresa demonstrated, but it illustrates how success and happiness can come in many different ways.
The other day, I came across the following quote by the Scottish evangelist and author Oswald Chambers (1874–1917): “God’s call is for you to be His loyal friend, to accomplish His purposes and goals for your life.” A life that accomplishes God’s goals and purposes—whatever those are in each case—sounds like a successful life, and a person who’s on friendly terms with God sure sounds like a happy person.
In a nutshell, that’s the kind of success I wish for Audrey—and myself, for that matter.