Variant Spellings

July 6, 2021


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As window-shoppers strolled up and down the promenade, I scribbled down a personal definition of success on a napkin. That napkin may as well have been a stone tablet inscribed by the finger of God on Mount Sinai. God redefined success for me and spelled it out on that napkin.

Like definitions in the dictionary that capture different dimensions of a word, I jotted down three variant spellings of success.

The first definition may sound generic, but it’s specific to any and every situation:

1) Do the best you can with what you have where you are.

Success is not circumstantial. We usually focus on what we’re doing or where we’re going, but God’s primary concern is who we’re becoming in the process. We talk about “doing” the will of God, but the will of God has much more to do with “being” than “doing.”

It’s not about being in the right place at the right time. It’s about being the right person–even if you find yourself in the wrong circumstances. Success has nothing to do with how gifted or how resourced you are. It has everything to do with glorifying God in any and every situation by making the most of it.

Success is spelled stewardship, and stewardship is spelled success.

The second definition that I wrote down captures my calling. Whether I’m writing, preaching, or parenting, this is the driving passion of my life:

2) Help people maximize their God-given potential.

Potential is God’s gift to us; what we do with it is our gift back to God. Helping people maximize their God-given potential is why God put me on this planet. That is what gets me up early and keeps me up late. Nothing is more exhilarating to me than seeing people grow into their God-given giftedness.

The third definition reveals the deepest desire of my heart:

3) My desire is that the people who know me the best respect me the most.

Success is not measured by how many people I pastor or how many books I sell. Success is living life with such authentic integrity that those who know me best actually respect me most. I couldn’t care less about fame or fortune. I want to be famous in my home. That is the greatest fortune.

If you don’t have a personal definition of success, chances are you will succeed at the wrong thing. You’ll get to the end of your life and realize that you spelled success wrong. And if you spell it wrong, you’ll get it wrong.

You need to circle the goals God wants you to go after, the promises God wants you to claim, and the dreams God wants you to pursue. And once you spell your Jericho, you need to circle it in prayer.

Then you need to keep circling until the walls come tumbling down.

Excerpted from The Circle Maker published by Zondervan, a division of Harper Collins.

Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson

Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.


  1. Lynn on July 8, 2021 at 2:16 am

    In a Pit with a Lion changed my entire outlook when I read it years ago. I had been sluggish, tired and depressed and was also taking care of my father. I don’t think I wanted to part ways with it, after reading it.

    I’m glad to see more on Twitter and Facebook. I love these little thoughts every week.
    Lynn McIntosh

  2. Gift Mbumwae on July 8, 2021 at 6:23 am

    Profound article

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