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The stories we hear from time to time about people becoming self made and self driven miraculous successes always fascinate and inspire me.  But when I think about those stories and dig a little deeper in to them I can almost always find where some relational value in every persons life contributed to that success.  Really when we think about it none of us are “self made” successes because any amount of success we’ve had in our life has to involve someone else in some way.  Many many examples are coming to mind right now, but I’ll just share a few of my own.

  • I love sports.  When I was young I played sports – constantly.  I practiced hard, really hard. I sweated.  I bled.  When others were in bed sleeping I was inflicting pain on my body so that I would be a better athlete.  I was recognized for success as an athlete.
  • I love music.  When I was young I played trumpet – constantly.  I practiced really hard.  I studied music and repeated challenging pieces over and over.  When others were sleeping I was in early morning band class improving my skill.  I was recognized for success as a musician.
  • I love learning.  I did decent in both high school and college as a student athlete and musician.  But when I look back on it I just love learning things I find interesting and fun if only for a season.  I studied, a lot, in the wee hours of the night.  I was recognized for success as a student.
  • I’m analytical.  My first job after college was an engineering-level job that grew from finding problems and improving them to running most of the daily production decisions from raw material to customer delivery of the supply chain.  I worked hard long hours, dealing with people who didn’t always like me because of my position and decisions I had to make.  I was recognized for success as an employee.
  • I’m relational.  My second career job has been in sales because I like getting to know new people and I like helping people.  I knew nothing about the printing industry so I worked long hours and traveled all week long in the beginning.  Some years have been better than others, but generally speaking I’ve had a great deal of success in sales and serving my customers.
  • I love ministry.  When I was younger you couldn’t have paid me to say that because of all the heartache I experienced as a preachers kid, but now that I’m older I really do love ministry.  The greatest ministry work I’ve ever gotten to do is financial coaching at my church as well as teaching and speaking for I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. at other churches.  The more I do it the better I get and I’m still learning and growing.  I see people making life changing choices that indicate success, but I can’t even say this is my success because it’s God’s success and I’m just honored to be part of it.

I could go on and on – how about these most important ones…

  • I’m a husband and father.  So far it has been 12 years of learning, growing, and some of the most confusing and difficult work a man will ever do – building a thriving marriage.  Raising kids is the biggest impact anyone can have on the future for generations to come, and it’s one of the hardest things anyone will ever do.  It’s worth every heartache, frustration, and sacrifice to work at having a good marriage and raising kids.  I don’t believe we can ever “arrive” at some level of relationship success but I can confidently say that I consider the progress of my marriage a success, and my kids are at least still alive.

Do you see all the I’s that start all those paragraphs?  I could take all the credit for everything good in my life.  Even if I know in my heart that I could never have accomplished anything on my own, I could always talk like all that’s great about my life is all because of me and all about me.  It would be incredibly self righteous, self centered, and repulsive of me if all anyone ever heard from me is “I’ve done this and I’ve done that and I’m so awesome”.  That’s why I want to remind myself and everyone who reads this to be thankful for the relationships in your life that have helped you have any amount of success there is in your life.

My parents invested countless amounts of time and money in me playing sports and music.  They believed in my ability and invested heavily to see me thrive in those things.  My bosses put money on the line to pay me with nothing more than an informed belief that I would perform what they were paying me to do.  My friends in ministry have entrusted me to not blow up their ministry by failing morally and hindering the belief of people we’re trying to impact.  My wife said yes when she thought she knew what she was getting in to.  She has continued to say yes as we’ve grown through many trials and experienced much joy.  My kids still love me despite all my imperfections and they can’t even begin to understand how much they help me learn about myself and grow.

So I want to encourage you to do what I’m doing right now.  I’m taking a moment to thank everyone in my life who has believed in me, invested in me, and stuck with me.  I’m not thanking them for making me so awesome or for their part in my success.  It’s easy to do that and it still feeds self, so I’m choosing a little different approach.  I’m congratulating everyone for their success and thanking them for being a success.  They’ll know it impacted me without me talking about myself.

If you’re reading this I’d like to start with you.  I don’t know you all personally but I want to congratulate you for your success and thank you for being successful at everything you do.  You Rock!

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