Jon Tyson shows us how we are to redefine success.
This is the first talk in "Act III" of the Praxis Course, which deals with "The Road" -- how Christ-following entrepreneurs order their lives to be faithful and fruitful in the long run.
Jon Tyson, Praxis spiritual director, returns to contrast our typical definition of success with Jesus' definition. Specifically, he looks at the story of "the seventy-two" who were sent out by Jesus in Luke 10. When they exulted in the fact that the demons submitted to them, he rebuked them and showed them what it meant to "rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
Jon applies this passage to our need to compare ourselves and our accomplishments with others. He argues that this is possibly even more problematic for entrepreneurs; and he shows us the power of contentment independent of results.
1. Have you spent more of your life in the 12 or the 72? How so? Would others say the same about you?
Try to help people see that their lives have likely been a mix of experiences in the 12 and the 72, and that there are burdens and blessings associated with all levels of social power.
In this setting most people are likely to downplay their moments among the 12, either because they weren't aware of their social power or because they feel they need to apologize for it.
2. Can you think of a time when you had great results and your rejoicing was in the relationships and not the results? What did that feel like? What made it possible?
If necessary, point people back to the purpose of Jesus sending out the 72 in Luke 10:2 (a call to "harvest") and 10:9 (a call to heal). To rejoice in the relationships is to have joy for the sake of people when they are harvested (brought closer to contact with Jesus) and healed.
3. In what ways are you most prone to comparing your performance to others? What pattern does that reveal about how you tend to see your deepest identity?
You may want to suggest categories of performance: ethical or moral goodness; fundraising prowess; venture size or speed of growth; spiritual disciplines; cultural influence; etc.
4. Jon points out that all entrepreneurial pitches have to be success-oriented. What does it mean to pitch yourself and your venture effectively, but without having your identity so caught up in the "results" of the pitch?
Encourage people to keep it simple and come up with one idea that works for them. It may have to do with the content of the pitch itself; the way they deliver the pitch; their expectations or definitions of a successful outcome; etc. Help them think about what it would look like to talk about their venture with "divine apathy" -- the ability to care deeply about the process while leaving the outcome fully in God's hands.
5. What needs to happen for you to live free from being dominated by "the winners' script"?
Jon observes that what Richard Rohr calls "the winners' script" is pervasive in the world of entrepreneurship. He puts it like this: "things get better and better as you get better and better, and your life gets better and better ... but the fact that there is a winner means most people are losers ... and most of you are not going to have incredible, dramatic lives ... life is hard, and if we're continually measuring ourselves based on this upward script, it can cause us to lose our sense of self, and to doubt God." The only thing that can liberate high-stakes entrepreneurs and leaders from that script is the freedom of being accepted no matter the results.