Free Press Archives
WHAT IS "SUCCESS" FOR YOU
By Dalton Roberts
Chattanooga Times Free Press
Each us us has a little ruler in our mind that measures our success.
It's important to know whether it's someone else's ruler or our own.
If your only measurement is money, my heart hurts for you. In
"Upside Down," Eduardo Galeano wrote, "Children today are
denied to be children. The world treats rich kids as if they were money,
teaching them to act the way money acts. The world treats poor kids as
if they were garbage, to turn them into garbage. And those in the
middle, neither rich nor poor, are chained to televisions and trained to
live the life of prisoners."
All these kids are denied the highest and best. Personal fulfillment and
service to humanity are the only two paths to the good life.
The part of the quote we are most likely to miss is the sentence about
rich kids. They are treated as if they are money and expected to act as
money acts. While some people do have the gift and ministry of making
money, those who make money into a god to their kids sin against their
Neither should we transmit a notion of poverty as a worthy goal, or
conformity to values touted by television and society's other mighty
To me, one of the meanings of being "born again" is to make an
instantaneous and total change of values and then stay with it. All the
years I served in political office, I was reluctant to talk about
spiritual things. It turns people off for politicians to talk religion.
But the time has come for me to give credit where credit is due and the
credit for any success I experienced in the worthwhile work of politics
goes to the Lord.
Sitting in a one room apartment after being fired and unable to find a
job, I turned my life over to God. My theology might not fall into the
norm for this area, or any other area, but our spiritual experiences are
always our own. You may accept my word or reject it, but I must tell you
there is no question at all in my mind that God was with me during that
time of my life and gave me the strength, vision and joy to succeed.
The advantage of that decision was that I no longer had to measure my
success. It was no longer any of my business. I had turned that over to
God. There were times when ego made me think of grabbing it back but
it's just too good a deal as it is. No worry about how well I am doing,
how much money I am making, or how much recognition I am getting. All I
have to do is live out my talents (another word for
"callings"), stay clear in my heart and soul and accept open
doors as signs of what I should do next.
Until my last breath, I will thank God for the honor of working for the
people but I began to feel an irresistible tug in another direction.
Many people thought I shouldn't quit. The chairman of the
opposition party had already told me they were not going to run anyone
against me. I had a great staff and we were moving forward with all
kinds of exciting projects. But I knew the time had come to write and
perform. Those, too, were callings from my earliest years.
I've not made a lot of money. One of my heroes, songwriter/singer Gail
Davies, expresses my sentiments perfectly: "A friend of mine
once told me never to confuse reward with compensation, because the
reward is knowing you did your job the best you could do it. The
compensation is what other people give you. Sometimes I have to remind
myself that the Mona Lisa was a masterpiece because it was painted, not
because it was sold."
Check the ruler in your mind. Better still, just take it out.