Four years ago--to the month--I made a phone call about a job based on a clear directive from God. I got the job and from the very beginning I described my experience as being "propelled for a purpose'. The enthusiasm and energy I experienced were not my own. God was clearly at work.
With such clear direction and divine propulsion, I expected to be a big success. But that didn't happen. At least not in the way that most (including me) define success.
I navigated our region through change upon change. I increased the effectiveness of the product we provided, developed a philosophy and practice of fund raising, expanded the network of partners and nurtured an expectation of excellence and integrity among our clients.
What is success?
After all that work, I left the organization exhausted and discouraged. Measured against the standard I was found wanting. All of my peers were struggling too, but the feelings of inadequacy were not dulled by good company.
Then, last week I got a phone call from the man who replaced me. I immediately felt the shame of failure. This new person was capable and compassionate and energetic and gracious....and successful. After just seven weeks with the organization he is tasting success I had hoped and believed would result as I consistently practiced the right actions--but it never came.
After shame came anger. I asked God what in the world he was up to. Why direct me to this position? Was it just to embarrass me?
The sacred process.
God was kind enough to respond.
"[Paul] planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow." 1 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV)
Interesting. Here's what I heard--I had a part to play. I played it. I moved on. Now someone else comes to play their part. Each of us adequate for the particular job we were/are called to do.
I'm not going to lie. I would like to have tasted more of the current kind of success. But it's not mine to claim.
However, I can choose to bask in the God who was growing me and the seed of the gospel in the region, far before I ever entered the scene. Now that is success.
Kelli is a writer, speaker and consultant equipping leaders for a deepening intimacy with Christ, greater impact in ministry and more effective intentionality in all of life.
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