Prayer for Success

Ben Witherington’s Prayer for 2009:

Forgive us Lord our sense of entitlement, our sense that it is ‘owed’ to us, often without hard work, without fulfilling the Genesis mandate. Forgive us for seeking short cuts to success, to wealth, to opulence—gambling, lotteries, and the like. Help us to remember Lord that work is a gift from you, and while ‘the workman is worthy of his hire’, we are not entitled to riches, or early retirement or pension, simply because we have worked hard. Forgive us our dishonesty Lord… for seeking ‘something for nothing’ for seeking compensation without real injury, for seeking good goods for little or no money, and thus driving out of our nation the artisans, the blue collar workers, the furniture makers, the textile experts, and many others. We are reaping what we have sowed Lord, and the fruit is bitter. We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves much less loved our enemies, but rather we have loved things more than we have loved people, and so we have used people to get the things we love, rather than the reverse.

…Most of all, Lord, we ask in the New Year that your Son’s image might be better reflected in our demeanors, our behaviors, our beliefs. Lord we ask in the New Year that when the world looks at us, they may get a glimpse of you

Success

How seductive that word is. How sought after. How vaguely undefined.

I revisit this place of needing to define success and recalibrate my thinking on it, in my own life over and over, but this post is inspired by one of my daughters. She, perhaps more than others has been sensitized, whether by nature or by experiences, to the pull and the penalty of the measure of success. So I felt we needed time together to explore the subject, not because I am an expert, but because I have a different type of thinking. Hers helps me understand others better, mine is practiced in abstracts…which can collate the choices given and options available into a more objective (and so, less painful) package of choices and goals. (That works better for others than for myself, at times)

Our different thinking has led us to clash, to “miss” each other often in our history. Will we be able to come to a place of mutual benefit? -Which every relationship works towards (whether on a conscious level or not); although not every relationship succeeds (there is that word again) and some become very twisted in their actual dynamic. But it led me to think more about this idea of success.

There is a triumvirate of tension in this word. There is the “I”, the “other”, and what I would call the “other Other” – the truth, as in a standard. The “I” for many of us is vague and scattered, although some people are very concise and clear on what their own definition of success may be. Our own success, complicatedly, can be categorical as well. Maybe we succeed in one area, but not in wholeness of life. We must contend with the “other” voices, competing and sometimes cacophonous, weighing in on what constitutes success. Society, friends, enemies, critics, politics, occupational standards…. the list is really endless since it is crafted into individual sets of life factors, each with their own proffered opinions.

Most of us are aware of that “other Other” voice, whether we damp it or tune in to it, or not. Most of us call it a search for truth, but it weighs against all the other voices and definitions with a substance and authority that none of the others hold. Which is why it is in its own category. And, though for many too late, it holds the final verdict.

How complicated a process for something we seek after, so much so, as to make it one of the greatest marketing tools ever contrived.