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the success bubble

Let me tell you the reason why I wish I would have read something like “The Missional Mom” by Helen Lee before I had kids.


Before I had my sons, I was beyond ambitious.  I was an overachiever and experiencing great “success” in my field of work.  The thought of a baby was…. inhibiting, a step back, hindering…. I had so much potential to reach.  A baby would totally throw it off.


I remember having the goal to have a baby at age 30.  It seemed far enough off for me to get all I wanted to accomplish done.  Guess what?  Age 30 came, and I STILL felt like I hadn’t done all I wished to do.   It took us almost 2 years to have Ben, which in my mind “bought me more time”.  When I found out I was pregnant, my first reaction was not utter bliss.   My first thought was something along the lines of, “life as I know it is done”.


God took me up on that thought and moved me physically away from all I had worked so hard for in Vancouver to “die” in Calgary.  Not physically die, but die to my plans, ideas and ambitions.  He wanted to do some necessary re-arranging.


I wasted a good year or two with my first son mourning all that “could have been”.  I wish I had a book like the Missional Mom back then to slap me out of my pity party.  Life was not ending, life was just beginning.  I would talk to other moms, who too, shared in my point of view.  They would tell me woes of what they “were” before kids.  Ah yes, we were sacrificing our lives like a martyr to raise our children….


Our culture is so “success-driven”.  Chapter two of Helen Lee’s book describes the results of us being so success-driven and thus, reinforcing that on our kids.   We have to have them in the best preschool to ensure they will qualify for the best possible University.  Our kids are in swimming, piano, soccer, karate…. at age 3! (because they need all these things to be well-rounded future citizens)   Sounds ludicrous doesn’t it?  That’s because IT IS!  What do these success-driven kids grow up to be?  Success-driven adults who then teach their kids the same.


Here’s what I’ve learned in my 4 and a half years of having children in my life in hindsight about success. (and please excuse my utter blunt-ness).  It will never be enough, AND it’s a bubble.  It doesn’t matter what you’re successful in, what you’re doing probably isn’t really all that impressive.


WHOA, stop right there!  Did that hurt?  I’m sorry.  I was speaking out what was spoken right to my heart by God Himself to get me off my high horse.  But it’s true.   In the light of all the people who live presently on this planet, my “success” probably doesn’t measure very high.  And in the light of all human history and eternity to come, my “success” isn’t even on the radar.


In my days of ministry I thought was I was doing was on God’s “Entertainment Tonight” show in heaven for all the saints to see.   “Check out what that Connie girl is doing.  People could sure learn from her…”   I mean, God had promoted me to some pretty important positions at such a young age.  I must have been something else…… oh I was something else alright…..  one big head that needed a good “pop”.


Can I be so bold as to say how small-minded these statements are in the light of what we feel success is:


“I have over 1000 people in my church, how many have you got?”


“I made over $150,000 this year.  What’s your net worth?”


“My youth ministry is being featured in the next denominational magazine as one of the top leading influential ministries in Canada.”


“I’ve been rated “most desirable to date” in my school this year.”


“I’ve been asked to speak at one of the top conferences in the business I work in.”


“I just wrote a best-seller book which has sold over a million copies.”


“My recent project was featured on the evening news.”


Please forgive me if this offends you.  Are the above statements “bad”?  Not at all!  I’d hope for everyone to see favor on all the things we set out to do.  But to say these statements to boast or make a “claim to fame”?  Well that’s just a little ignorant and border-line insecure, don’t you think?  My recent project was covered by the evening news, but does that make it a “success”?  Maybe in some eyes, but the reality is that the evening news comes and goes. What was “breaking news” now, is history tomorrow.


Comparison and coveting accompany “success”.   We “wish” we could have certain speaking engagements, we want that “position”, we think if we only had that “role” THEN we would feel successful.  Then we covet those who are working in those areas.  We compare ourselves with them.


I’m really not that good.  When I get to heaven, all eternity is not going to “stop” to sing the Hallelujah Chorus as I enter the pearly gates.


But I CAN focus on what God thinks is successful: a life of obedience.   A life that teaches my children how to live in obedience to God’s call.  To love people, to love serving people – and to do it even when no one notices.


So I say ACHIEVE!  Teach your kids to achieve, but make obedience the goal.  SEE needs around your home and reach out as a family to those who are hurting.  That doesn’t sound like “potential-squashing”, does it?


God’s not done with you  just because you have kids, He’s just beginning.   Now you multiply however many are in your family, and that can have an impact!  Gone are the days where mom and/or dad went and did ministry, leaving the kids at home.  It’s a new generation of parenting that doesn’t focus on the world’s idea of “success” but on living out God’s plan.


It’s a new day: it’s time for families to live out God’s mission….. together.


Categories: Getting missional
  1. Carrie
    April 13, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    This was another very interesting read, thank you. I wrote a paper on Narcissism this semester and found this book to be quite interesting,’The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement’.
    It all comes back to balance. Our children are a very important part of our life but should not be the focus of which our life orbits around. Too often it is that kind of orbital parenting that is encouraged as healthy. The idea of parents needing to keep the kids busy doing?!?!?!? The concept that we are all(and our children as proof) supper stars either self promoting or waiting to be seen.

    Thanks again Connie

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