Ask any mother of a newborn and she will tell you success is getting a shower more than once a week. Ask one of the female astronauts scheduled for a spacewalk at the International Space Station this month and we might get a different answer. (Not dropping the wrench over Houston, for instance.)

Success is never a concrete term, although we try to make it so. As a writer, I get trapped in the thought that my success is measured by the number of books I sell or the number of articles and stories I publish. Yet, I don’t measure any other area of my life by numbers. I measure by the intangibles. By my own peace of mind. By my husband’s whistle in the early mornings. By the health and happiness of people in my small sphere of influence and love.

By that measure, success for me as a writer would include being read. Otherwise, I’d just keep a diary. Even more, though, the measure would be whether or not readers are being blessed, encouraged, challenged, entertained, or helped in any way. If that is my measure, just one of the sweet letters in my file drawer would be enough. Someone found hope for her future in the story of a runaway from the nursing home. Someone else discovered the freedom to pray in Thirty Days to Glory. Another reader fed a hungry veteran on the street because he reminded her of my character, Elmer Grigsby.

That, Dear Reader, is success. (She reminds herself on a daily basis)

If you are measuring your own life by the number of months before your first-born could sit alone or by the ranking of your sales stats on the quarterly chart, please stop. Instead, measure your life by this ancient standard from a minor prophet named Micah: Do justice. Love kindness. And walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8, NASB)

If we are improving in those three things, then let’s give a shout out to one another from my days as a high-school cheerleader: S-U-C-C-E-S-S, that’s the way we spell Success!!”

(Go, Hornets.)