The Deception of Success

This summer I decided to do summer school with my children.

Each morning my children and I met at the kitchen table, 7am sharp.  Not 7:01- 7!  Yes, I am that kind-of mama.  All of my friends’ children hug them and bless them when I share that story.  Anyway, we would have summer school from 7-9am each morning, then breakfast.

My children needed to beef up their math skills.  Math was one subject that really suffered this past school year for everyone.  But one particular child really struggled.

One morning I chose to focus solely on her and helping her grasp multiplication.  This is my fourth time helping a child with multiplication, should be a piece of cake right?  Wrong!

The more I tried to explain the math concepts, the less she understood.  The less she understood the more frustrated I was becoming.  I felt like I was explaining kindergarten concepts to a 3rd grader and making no progress.  Ugh!

This particular child is also very sensitive.  When she senses that I am upset with her, I can forget it, all learning is over.  And I was indeed upset.

You see we were only supposed to be at the table for 2 hours. 

I wanted to focus on her first, but not for the whole table time.  I wanted to help her, but I didn’t intend for it take the entire school session.  So yes I wanted her to understand, but even more I wanted her to get her work done!

Completing her math assignment for the day allowed me to put a check in a box and call it done!  But I had a problem, my daughter did not understand the concept.  She could have put some numbers on a piece of paper, answered some questions, and possibly gotten a few right, but she did not understand the process.

I wanted to have a successful day of summer school and that meant completing this math assignment.  I was deceived.

My priorities were all out of whack.  The goal of completing an assignment became a higher priority than my daughter.  Finishing the task took precedent over her lack of understanding.  My timetable refused to make space for her to get detailed explanation she desperately needed.

This is not the first time.  There have been times where my success was defined as a clean home, an organized desk, a completed to-do list, a whirl wind errand list, you name it!  I had made my mind up and I was set on accomplishing my goal and achieving success meant completing my list.  Have you ever been there?

Let’s commit as moms to service over success.

Let’s ask, how can I best serve my family right now.

Maybe we could even shift success to mean when we best serve the needs of the person God has placed in front of us right now.  Then we are free to trust Him with the time to complete the tasks we desire to complete.

Let’s choose service as the best form of success!


  1. Reminds me of the motto my college had for us in our education department: teacher as servant. What a radical idea!

  2. I love it! I need to hear this today because, like you I like to check things off my list as well to make me feel as though I’ve accomplished something at the end of the day. I will begin to use this strategy instead.


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