If there is one thing every parent wants for their children; it’s to be successful.
It’s true; unless you’re either insecure about your own lot in life or you’re going to
therapy your desire is for the success of your children.

In the context of today, the need; nay the thirst for success is what drives our world
(North America). From pursuing interests based on the target market, to “the easiest
way to a million dollars” we seldom want to attempt anything that be successful.

I had a conversation with one of the recent High School graduates at my church, and
they were wrestling with making a significant decision (so they thought). It was whether
to move away from his home-town to attend a college/camp in another province (I’m
Canadien eh). They made statements such as “what if this is God’s will for my life? Heck,
is it??” and “this decision could totally wreck so many things I have going for myself
right now”.

The stress and pressure they felt was written in bold all-caps on their face

I remember feeling the same way in high school and maybe a little bit today as a
seminary student. Being asked questions like “what do you want to do for the rest of
your life?” and “how are you going to get good grades to then get into a good school to
then get a good paying job?” Huge questions that do matter, but not in the way that
most would think.

For whatever reason, our culture foists the biggest life decisions on children (yes,
children) that have yet to step out into the real world and experience the stress of many
things in life. The human brain (from my amateur understanding) doesn’t fully develop
until around 25 years old.

Yet the world expects a half-risen dough ball to look like a fully risen dough ball.

And with this high school kid sharing his stress and struggle, I couldn’t help but say “can
I speak into this stress you’re having?” to which they kindly said “yes please!”

This idea didn’t originate from me, I heard it on a podcast (the basement with Tim Ross)
and it’s sat with me ever since, even as a 26 year old seminary student:

“You are expected to know exactly what you want to be in life, when you
don’t know what to expect in life. Your 20’s are meant to be a time where
you try stuff and fail. So get out there, make a decision that could be really
amazing or really terrible and go through the two year period of sorrow
or joy. Then you won’t have failed, but you will have learned about yourself.”

*This is a paraphrase of a longer conversation. Haven’t a clue which podcast episode it
was on, but it’s all worth a listen!

I believe this idea is countercultural. Why? Because our journey with the Lord is similar.
It’s an uphill climb until we get to the top. There is no such thing as microwave

Bumps and bruises scare us, but these bruises come from a sculptures
hammer; building character we never could have had before.

This blog post is titled “Define Success” and I believe we view success in a vacuum. If we
don’t have the mortgage, family, degree, small-business; we aren’t successful. And I
believe that we must define success as a journey, and not a destination.

To quote an old puritan John Owen:

“I am not what I ought to be, I am not what I want to be, I am not what I hope to be in another world;

but still I am not what I once used to be, and by the grace of God I am what I am”

Let’s fight the cultural definition of success, and let God decide what success means for
you and for me. No matter where you are, if you are seeking the Lord (present tense)
you are successful in the eyes of God.

Gavin Schaefer


  1. Anonymous

    Excellent blog. I enjoyed it very much and I have concerns on how much pressure we put on children. Glad your attention was drawn to it. I truly felt like I was an adult around 25 and I made radical changes to mine and my children’s lives. Church attendance was one. But when I was 19 I thought I was all grown up. I didn’t know I wasn’t until I got there. Anyway loved it. Looking forward to the next one.
    Cousin Annette

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