Tuesday, February 21, 2006

JK: What is Success?


I was recently asked to respond to questions about success and I thought it might be of interest to share those answers and hopefully engage you in a discussion about success as a Christian writer. Here’s how I defined success.

Success to me means keeping my commitments, those I made as a faith-based writer, to show up, to assume the position of a writer and to tell the story I’ve been given the best way I know how and to trust that I’m not alone in the telling. The word commitment comes from a banking term meaning “to make a deposit against which one can later draw. When I trust that I am somehow called to write and I honor that on any given day, then I feel successful. When I start to panic, I return to that deposit I made to draw on it so I can move forward, not be paralyzed by the challenge of the writing.

Are you -- or have you ever considered yourself -- successful? Why or why
not?

Given the above, I can allow myself to feel successful every time I keep those commitments. That said, there is the worldly definition of success that has to do with getting published, having a best seller, getting Oprah to know our names. I can always find a new step on the ladder of success, and I often don’t fee as successful as I might.

But in recent years, as people whose thinking I respect have told me they think I’ve “made it” I realize that it is all right to admit that I have a measure of worldly success. Yes, there are more goals to accomplish but I do no one any favors in denying that God has indeed been good to me and my family through the years. When I want to discount that worldly measure of success I’m reminded of a Leonard Cohen lyric: Ring the bells you still can ring/forget your perfect offering. Everything has cracks in it; it’s how the light gets in.” When someone offers me a compliment about my writing I’m going to try to remember that I am letting the light come in through the cracks I can still see inside of me.

Jane Kirkpatrick, www.jkbooks.com . Look for A Clearing in the Wild, coming in April, the first book in the Change and Cherish Series from WaterBrook Press.

3 Comments:

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Patty said...

Really good reminder, Jane, of our role as imperfect lights.

 
At 12:33 PM, Blogger Domino said...

Some don't feel successful in just knowing they're doing their job. They need to know that their job is worth doing.

Even a nightlight isn't all it can be unless the light is allowed to shine.

 
At 7:38 PM, Blogger JSB said...

I like John Wooden's definition, on his famous Pyramid of Success. He said success is peace of mind, which comes from knowing you did your best to become the best you're capable of. We cannot do any more than that, but we certainly CAN do that much!

 

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