How To Know If You Are A Success Or Failure (A Jeremy Lin Anecdote)

Originally published Tuesday, 13 March 2012.


Full confession:  Although I went to Duke, for a long time I just didn’t get basketball. Why all the running up and down?  Why the deafening air horns? And why do the coaches always look mad?

However, my husband and kids are basketball fanatics. I admit it was involuntary at first, but I’ve also come to love the game.

Along with many other sports fans, we are caught up in Jeremy Lin-sanity.

23-year-old Jeremy Lin is a vocal Christian, a Harvard grad and basketball Cinderella story.  He was unrecognized and underplayed in the NBA, until being recently traded to the New York Knicks.  (See how I’m throwing around basketball terminology like an ESPN announcer?)

There were doing so badly and were so desperate for players that they started to use Lin.  He came out playing brilliantly, causing all sorts of new phrases to be coined:  Lin-tastic, Lin-credible, Lin-derella Story.

There are still ups and downs in his game.  Yet throughout, he has stayed notably humble.  I think his earlier stint in the dregs of the basketball world helped nurture humility.  He seems to walk with Christ in his successes and failures.

I’m sure he faces the temptation of self-worship when he’s playing like a star. I’m sure he gets dejected when he can’t seem to shoot or dribble for his life.

Don’t we all face something similar?  We often believe the equation:

(my successes) – (my failures) = my self-worth

We take our successes and failures and add them up as a way of defining ourselves.

We can become prisoners of our own results.

But as Christians, we have a way to solve this problem.  

Here’s how:

  1. Remember the great news: God wants to use success and failure to make us into people who love and rely on Him. He’s less concerned with what we do, but cares deeply about the kind of people we are becoming.
  2. Tether our daily doings to the cross:  every talent and gift we have is from God.  Without Him, nothing we achieve would be possible.
  3. Follow the wisdom of 1 Corinthians 10:31: So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

To paraphrase CS Lewis, we think God wants an outcome, but what He really wants is simply us.  Whatever role we are called to, He cares most about the attitudes of our hearts.

Let's get in the habit of tying our successes to His strength, and our failures to His grace and mercy.  That's where true contentment lies.

Star NBA player or not!

Question:   Do you tend to seek a Godly or worldly success? How does that impact your life satisfaction?


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I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas.  You can share in the comment box! (just below or upper left)

Dr. Ann is a Christian M.D., wife to a fantastic husband, and mom to a lively gang of three.  At The Marriage Checklist Ann blogs about marriage, motherhood, and more!  She helps women build better life balance and grow great marriages.  Ann blogs on, and has been featured on, Fox news, and Good Morning America.  She loves that every day we can choose to take our best steps forward – for God, for the people in our lives, and for ourselves

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Copyright Dr. Ann 2012

(photo credit: topstep07)