How Do You Define Success?

Posted by Natul Middlebrook on


I have a confession. I believed, at the beginning of this venture, that I was strong enough AND smart enough to create and run a social enterprise that was going to radically impact the lives of MANY orphaned young men in Haiti. Boom! In five years, I was going to be sharing with the world how Jesus and jobs for young men is the key to changing Haiti from the ground up.

Well, here we are starting our 4th year and I haven’t attained the measure of success that I put so much stock in at the beginning of this venture. It doesn’t feel successful when a young man I’ve poured so much into ends up homeless because of his drug problem. Or when we don’t have enough orders to keep all the guys working so some of them slip back into their survival instincts. It feels unsuccessful, in fact. No matter how many “feel good” stories we have, it is the disappointments that always seem to cling to us, right?

So I made a choice. Either I needed to redefine success and make peace with the process or I needed to quit before my holy hustle ran me off a cliff.

I chose to redefine my meaning of success.

I recently read this quote by Gregory Boyle in his book, Tattoos on the Heart. Gregory is a Jesuit priest who devoted his life to working with gang members in LA and started Homeboy Industries, as a result. He writes the following:

“Salivating for success keeps you from being faithful, keeps you from truly seeing whoever is sitting in front of you. Embracing a strategy and approach you can believe in is sometimes the best you can do on any given day. If you surrender your need for results and outcomes, success becomes God’s business.”

Yes—that’s right people—it’s God’s business. I know—it sounds so oversimplified and slightly ridiculous but this dream is God’s business. And you want to know how I know? Because we chose 8 unqualified street boys to be the backbone of our company and here we are today—producing beautiful collections and sharing it with people like you who care about Christian Fair Trade.

I’ve learned to break success down into moments. Like this moment that was captured of Clivens making a bracelet. Such a seemingly small thing but the ripple effects of the joy that takes place when a young man has Jesus and jobs---it’s what keeps me going sometimes.

Jesus’ strategy for success was loving people and that took him straight to the cross. What appeared as a monumental failure ended up becoming the biggest success story in human history; Eternal life over death for all of us.

I share this with you because I want to encourage you on your road to success. If the progress you hoped to achieve is moving slowly—remember that for God your response to him and how you treat his people is far more valuable. Do your best each day. Be faithful. But the rest really is His business.

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  • I really needed this today. Love God, love others as yourself, and He will take care of the rest. Thanks for sharing Natul!

    Lucas on

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