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You can’t make a Horse out of Horse Manure

December 16th, 2008 · 1 Comment

“For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (I Corinthians 1:25)

Purpose Weekly is a success newsletter. I know it doesn’t always appear that way. Sometimes it’s kind of preachy – talking about spiritual stuff more than practical success.

Yeah, I know that sometimes it seems like Purpose Weekly is about everything but success. But that’s because, somewhere along the line, the world’s definition of success got screwed up.

Money, fame, comfort, prosperity, honor, luxury – everything we associate with success – isn’t. Some of those things may be by-products of success, but they’re not success.  A by-product, according to Webster is “something produced by the manufacture of something else.” Horse manure, for example, is a by-product of the horse it came from. It’s not the horse; it’s a by-product of the horse. The trick is to know the difference between the horse and the manure.

Money, fame, comfort, prosperity, honor and luxury are by-products of success. If your heart is set on those things, you’re focusing on the manure – not the horse. People need to know that. They need to know what success really is, so they can focus on that – not on the by-products.

That’s what Purpose Weekly is all about.

*****

I’ve been a student of success for quite a while. My introduction into the world of big business was as a factory worker at the impressive wage of $3.50 per hour. I learned pretty quickly that if I showed some initiative I’d be promoted to ‘lead man’ and my hourly wage would increase to a staggering $4.50 per hour. I worked the system, taking initiative, taking charge, volunteering, and I worked my way up the proverbial ladder.

But after a few years I hit the factory floor ceiling. I had progressed all I could with my existing credentials. The guys above me weren’t necessarily smarter or more motivated, but they did have something I lacked, a college degree.

I enrolled in college and took classes whatever hours I wasn’t working. That’s when I discovered success literature. I read every book and listened to every success tape I could get my hands on. I practiced what they preached and it worked. I finished college, got promoted, changed good jobs for better jobs, finally started my own company and grew it into a respectable entity of its own. I had achieved a modicum of everything the success gurus had promised me – money, fame comfort, prosperity, honor, and luxury. It took me twenty years to arrive, but I finally made it. I was ‘there’.

Ironically, the moment I achieved everything the success gurus promised, I realized that I had mistaken the manure for the horse. And try as I might, I’d never make a horse out of horse manure. It’s impossible to manufacture success out of its by-products.

After I figured out that all the stuff I had acquired were by-products of success and not success itself I had to begin the journey of discovering what success really was.

Success, according to Webster, is “the accomplishment of what is desired or aimed at.” That made sense. That’s what all the success gurus said. That’s what I had realized in my own life. Set a goal, work toward it and achieve it. That’s the definition of success. So how come after I had done all that achieving, I didn’t feel very successful. I didn’t feel that I had any purpose in my life – just stuff.

That’s when I realized that success, in the terms, I had defined it – attaining money, fame, comfort, prosperity, honor and luxury didn’t necessarily have anything to do with purpose. And what I was really looking for in my struggle to become a success, was purpose.

I had mistaken my definition of success for purpose. I had mistaken the manure for the horse.

What is purpose? According to Webster it’s “a result which it is desired to obtain and which is kept in mind in performing an action.”

Hmmm ….

That answer is more confusing than the question.

Here’s a simpler definition: purpose is “reason for existence.” My purpose is my reason for existence. Your purpose is your reason for existence.

Since success is defined as, “the accomplishment of what is desired or aimed at”; and what I’m aiming at is purpose – my reason for existence – then success is fulfilling my reason for existence.

Super! I’ve found what I’ve been looking for my whole life – my reason for existence! In order to be successful all I have to do is fulfill my purpose! Ha Ha!

…. ummm … What’s my purpose?

The success gurus had an answer for that question too. According to them success itself was a worthy purpose. By becoming ‘successful’ you could provide for your family, do important work, affect the lives of others and give to charity. All those good works would give you a sense of purpose while you’re enjoying the money, fame, comfort, prosperity, honor, and luxury. In short you could use your success – your attainment of all that stuff to buy yourself some kind of purpose in life.

What they were saying was that if I got the stuff they equated with success, I’d find or create a purpose to go along with it. Well, I got the stuff and the purpose never showed up.

You can’t make a horse out of horse manure.

I also figured out that you can’t find or choose or create your purpose. It’s like a teapot trying to find or choose or create its purpose. Or like a hammer trying to find or choose or create its purpose. A teapot is a teapot; its purpose is to brew tea. A hammer is a hammer; its purpose is to pound nails. The hammer and the teapot were commissioned by their creators for a specific purpose. If they don’t fulfill the purpose they were created for, their success as a hammer or teapot isn’t realized.

They could each be set on a red velvet pillow and placed in the Hammer and Teapot Museum, but if the hammer has never driven a nail and the teapot has never brewed a cup of tea, they’ve failed at the purpose for which they were created.

Take a lesson from the hammer and the teapot: life isn’t about being placed on a red velvet pillow; it’s about fulfilling your purpose.

The success gurus had gotten it all wrong. Success isn’t about money, fame, comfort, prosperity, honor or luxury. Most of the ‘Christian’ success gurus weren’t any better. All they did was take the same definition of success – money, fame, comfort, prosperity, honor and luxury, and sprinkle it with religious vocabulary. You can’t make a horse out of horse manure by sticking a holy sounding tag line on the end.

That’s why I quit my job and sold my business. That’s why I started True Potential Publishing and that’s why I write Purpose Weekly.

Your success lies in fulfilling your purpose. You don’t have to go out and find or choose or create a purpose. It’s already been chosen for you a long time ago. Your Creator had a reason for your existence when he laid out the universe. And He saw to it that you were birthed with that specific purpose already installed.

God shared this truth with the prophet Jeremiah before setting him on his assigned purpose. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5)

David knew all about God’s purpose for him. “… your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:16)

Your path is already laid out in front of you; all you have to do is follow it. That’s where you’ll find purpose. That’s where you’ll find success.

What about the money, fame, comfort, prosperity, honor, and luxury? Don’t worry about them. Focus on fulfilling your purpose. The by-products come with the horse.

*****

Still a little confused about exactly how to take that next step? Still a little worried that there won’t be enough by-product to make ends meet? We’ll go over that next week.

Until then, rest in this:

“‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’ – but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.” (I Corinthians 2: 9-10)

In Him,

Steve Spillman

Tags: Celebrity · community · Courage · faith · God's purpose · joy · love · money · Obedience · possessions · Prayer · purpose · success · Trust

1 response so far ↓

  • 1 Roger // Jan 21, 2009 at 7:26 am

    Steve,

    I’ve not been very good with horses but I sure have had a lot of experience with the other stuff.

    I thank God for your practical down to earth wisdom and your ministry of helping characters like me !

    Keep up the good work. The anchor still holds!

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