The Definition of Success

For the past several years, our kids’ 4-H year has culminated at the Illinois State Fair.

This year, Aidan and Shae were again selected at our county 4-H fair to show their projects – his in computer science and hers in creative writing – at the state level.

Rewind to the spring, when they began to work on their projects in earnest. I don’t know how many hours they put in all together, but it was a lot. Shae’s project required writing many pieces to complete a workbook; then she wrote the pieces that would be judged at the fair. But she still had to show her completed writing workbook along with the fair pieces.

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay


Aidan taught himself a computer language, C++, so as to write the beginnings of a computer game.

When I recall myself as a teenager, I don’t know if I would have had the drive and time management skills to complete a project of that scope, with little input from teachers or parents. But my kids were good project managers, breaking down their projects into chunks that they completed according to a schedule.

There were still late nights, and lots of encouragement from their dad and me. At one point, Aidan thought he might not have anything physical to present, so entrenched was he in simply learning the language. Shae reworked some of her pieces a number of times, trying to get them just right.

But that’s the thing with writing – it’s never “just right” in the author’s eyes. It can always be tweaked!

As can computer programs, it seems. Poor Aidan didn’t have anyone to consult about lines of code that were gobbledygook to my husband and me.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay


Yet, my kids persevered, completed their projects, and won.

At the state fair, Aidan ended up as champion of his class. Shae received high honors. Both received kind comments from their judges, which will encourage my kids throughout this next year to continue to expand their knowledge of hobbies they love.

But after the 4-H judging was over, Shae had another contest to attend.

Last year, she entered the state fair dance competition and fell during her performance, which she had never done before. She did not place.

Image by Rudy and Peter Skitterians from Pixabay


Like her father, Shae is stoic; though she was disappointed in herself, her immediate response to me was, “I’m going back next year, and I’m going to do better.”

So, she spent this past year perfecting a Celtic sword dance choreographed by her, her dance teacher, and my mother, who was also a dancer once upon a time.

Her goal, she said, was simply to beat herself – to face her fear of failure and put forth the best performance that she possibly could.

And she did! She danced with grace and joy, and placed second to last year’s – and this year’s – winner.

Of course, I am so pleased for my children that their hard work was recognized and rewarded. Like any parent, I want my kids to be happy and successful.

But the definition of success that their dad and I try to put forth is not one of achieving recognition, but of doing one’s best; of doing all to the glory of God, and not for their own esteem.

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31

We know that our kids will only be truly happy and successful if they are living daily according to God’s will. What a joy it has been to see them apply this to their lives!

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men. – Colossians 3:23

Have you learned any life lessons this summer? Is your family involved in 4-H? I’d enjoy hearing from you!

because home wasn't built in a day

4 thoughts on “The Definition of Success”

  1. “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have GOOD SUCCESS….Joshua 1:18

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I smiled when I saw this, as I spent a portion of the morning working on a sermon on the very same subject, how success in the eyes of secular society isn’t necessarily the path to heaven, and based on Jesus’ teaching that the last shall be first, and the first shall be last.

    We appreciate success all the more, do we not, if we have failed previously, and learned from the experience. Our having survived rough stretches in life enable and empower us to be grateful for the good times, and offer thanks to the One who helps us through thick and thin.

    Liked by 1 person

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