Success: Divine & Defined

Let Me Be Frank With You
By Frank Breeden, President of the Gospel Music Association, GMA Today March/April Issue

How should we, as a gospel music family, define success? If ever an answer relied upon one's perspective, this certainly does. How ironic that life juxtaposes our individual definitions of success in such as way that one's idea of success could qualify as another's definition of failure.

Even in the absence of consensus, it is helpful to remember that our Creator has expressed His perspective on this discussion one that ultimately matters. Scripture is filled with definitions of success that are paradoxical to our way of thinking ("He who loses his life for My sake shall find it", "The first shall be last" "Lay not up for yourselves treasures here on earth" etc.).

Analyzing the effectiveness of our respective roles in spreading the gospel through music is often done with the usual measuring devices. This time of year is replete with opportunities for many such "gauges." Dove Awards, Special Awards, Academy of Gospel Music Arts Spotlight and Song competitions, Radio Station of the Year, and the Gospel Music Hall of Fame induction ceremony are all appropriate ways we have chosen to honor those who have earned these special types of recognition.

Can the whole definition of success be represented by platinum albums, award statuettes, medallions around our necks, station ratings, sales records, and album chart position? Not really. While our pragmatist (what works) society tempts us to define success with these external symbols and the number of which we are able to accumulate over a lifetime, other accolades that speak more poignantly about the true and lasting value of our endeavors are worth considering.

In the middle of this "award winning" season, there is merit in stepping back from the moment and adopting the perspective of scripture. As we are celebrating #1 songs, hanging gold and platinum albums on our walls, basking in the glow of standing ovations, or relishing our recent Dove Award nominations, we would do well to remember some other awards that, while not as tangible, possess values that transcend our very lifetimes.

For instance, there are those among us who have experienced the honor of their music being included in a hymnal for millions to sing in perpetuity. Some know the joy of traveling to a different country and hearing their songs sung by the masses in a different language. Others find great satisfaction in knowing that some little girl is squeaking out their song as she practices her clarinet for this Sunday's offertory. Ask any artist how they feel when a song they introduced to the world becomes a "standard" for wedding ceremonies. Talk to a music company employee who receives a letter from someone whose life was literally saved because of an album his or her company released.

To be sure, we all will continue to pursue the types of success that can be measured by the various indices we create. May we not, however, forget to allow ourselves to look through the perspective of God's eyes and see the trophies that really count, the only ones we can actually keep for eternity.

Reprinted from GMA Today March/April Issue, courtesy of Frank Breeden and the Gospel Music Association