by David Sisler

How would you define, or measure, success? One Wall Street investment firm advertises they measure success, “one investor at a time.”

In August, 1985, Placid Oil Company, one of the largest privately owned oil companies in the world, filed for bankruptcy. Bunker Hunt, one of Placid’s owners spoke about his father, who had founded the company: “My father really never cared about money. It just sort of seemed the way they kept score.” To many that is an acceptable, perhaps the only, measure of success.

Since the Cincinnati Red Stockings took the field in 1869 as America’s first professional baseball team and won 91 of the 92 games they played, approximately 500,000 games have been played at the major league level. For a baseball pitcher, arguably the most important man on the field, one measure of success would be the perfect game.

Yet in all of those games, only 16 pitchers have faced the minimum 27 batters and allowed no hits, no walks, and have been supported by errorless fielding from their team mates.

Pedro Martinez of the 1995 Montreal Expos and Harvey Haddix of the 1959 Pittsburgh Pirates were perfect through nine innings, but did not meet MLB’s rules for an official perfect game. Martinez gave up a hit in the 10th inning to spoil his perfect outing. Haddix was perfect through 12 innings, an effort regarded by many as the greatest game ever pitched in major league history, but an error by Don Hoak in the 13th inning cost “The Kitten” the game and the official perfect notch.

Since the first World Series in 1903, only Don Larsen, of the 1956 New York Yankees, has thrown a perfect game in any of those contests. It is a measure of success with a very exclusive membership list.

1992 was the last year for the winter and summer Olympic games to be held in the same year. Organizers cite the massive logistics problems as sufficient reason to stagger the contests every two years. With the 2002 winter games still a few months away, it is interesting to review a question asked of a number of Olympic participants following the 1988 games: “Would you take steroids if it meant you would win a medal in the next Olympics, but that you would only live five years after the Olympics?”

65 percent of those interviewed said they would take steroids if it meant they would win a medal, even if it meant they would only live five more years. Imagine top-notch athletes willing to give up the rest of their lives, just to win a medal. Imagine that measure of success!

Joe Paterno is one of the most successful college football coaches in the history of the game. He always advises his players at Penn State, “Football is just a game. You are a lot more important than the game.”

With that insight, you will understand why, then, when one of his players lingered on the field, causing a penalty which ultimately lost the Sugar Bowl for Penn State, Joe Paterno – long before the days of instant replay – refused to identify that player to the press.

Refusing to allow a young man to be singled out for the rest of his life as the man who lost the Sugar Bowl, Joe Paterno said, “His name is not important. The kid just made a mistake. He is a lot more important than any game.” In an atmosphere which says winning is everything, that is a very important measure of success.

There was another man who, by any standard or measure of success you would choose, would be labeled a success. He held a significant position in his community, he was wealthy, and he had attained these accomplishments at an early age. Yet in his own eyes, he was not a success.

One day he knelt in the dust before the Teacher from Nazareth and said, “Jesus, what must I do to have eternal life?” He instinctively knew that Jesus would have a different measure of success.

The Apostle Paul measured success this way: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

Why is that God’s measure of success? Because if you intend to live for Him, from that moment on, neither your mind nor your body belong to you. Do not change to be like the people of this world. Be changed within by a new way of thinking. Your mind set has to be the mind set of Jesus, God’s Son. That is the measure of success.


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Copyright 2001 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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