What would you do if you won the lottery? Portrait of a very happy young man in a rain of money; Shutterstock ID 148789697; PO: lottery-winner-money-stock-today-tease-160108; Client: TODAY Digital
What would you do if you won the lottery? Portrait of a very happy young man in a rain of money; Shutterstock ID 148789697; PO: lottery-winner-money-stock-today-tease-160108; Client: TODAY Digital

By Dennis Trittin

There’s a lot of talk about “success” these days. It fills our bookshelves and infomercials. And, rarely does a week pass without some motivational speaker conducting a seminar on the five strategies to achieve it!

So, what does success mean to you? And, how will you know when you “made it”?

Success is one of my favorite topics to share with teens. When asked how our culture defines success, they usually cite wealth, power, and fame. Spot on. Then, I ask how they will define success, and I often get the “deer-in-the-headlights” look.

Why? Because most haven’t given it much thought—at least not yet.

I encourage them, as I do you and your families, to give this question some serious thought. Why? Because how we define success will govern how we live our lives and set our priorities. That’s huge! (It also influences how we parent our children, but that’s a whole other story!)

As far as worldly success goes—wealth and all that comes from it—many would cite King Solomon as the all-time winner. He was “greater than all of the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom” (1 Kings 10:23). But, isn’t it interesting that when God told Solomon He would grant him anything, Solomon asked for wisdom? (1 Kings 3:5-14)

True success starts with valuing things that God values, not what the world values. It means seeking His kingdom, loving Him and others, and living according to His righteousness. This means that true success comes from the heart, rather than from riches (Proverbs 22:1). Hmm, you don’t hear that much on TV, do you?

I’d like to share a wonderful definition of success penned back in 1905 by Bessie Stanley in the Lincoln Sentinel:

“He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.”

Beautiful words to live by, aren’t they?

And, isn’t it amazing that success, whether defined by God or expressed by Bessie a century ago, can come at a surprisingly early age? When you consider the person of Rachel Scott revealed in I’m Not Ashamed, you will see a wonderful example of success. Her life is an inspiration and her memory a benediction.

So, what is success for you?

Dennis J. Trittin is the President and CEO of LifeSmart Publishing, LLC and the author of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead; and Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World. Learn more at http://www.dennistrittin.com.