“It was I who knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought; but when they had grazed, they became full, they were filled, and their heart was lifted up; therefore they forgot me.”
Success: “Any success will tend to swell my head—unconsciously even,” Flannery O’Connor reflected in her prayer journal.  Success drives us from the divine in subtle but significant ways; it’s far easier to seek and pray when life seems beyond control. But what if the problem is not simply how we react when we succeed, but the limited scope of what we view as successful? If we give ourselves wholly to the pursuit of accolade in our vocation, or admiration from our peers, or even what can be accomplished in a single lifetime, perhaps we aspire too small.
Vision: David Foster Wallace observed, “Our own present culture has harnessed [money, body, power, and intellect] in ways that have yielded extraordinary wealth and comfort and personal freedom.” Even the greatest success, Wallace says, yields only “the freedom to be lords of our own tiny skull-sized kingdoms, alone at the center of all creation.”  The authors of the scriptures viewed any success that man could attain on his own as a small vision—no matter how grand it appears on Earth.
Impact: A Christian understanding of success views some earthly successes, and sufferings, as contributors for the greater success of God’s Kingdom. O’Connor contributed greatly to American literature, but her heart’s desire was for something far greater. In writing about O’Connor’s prayer journal for The New Yorker, Casey N. Cep observed, “The journal is chiefly an interior one, a record of a Christian who hoped the rightful orientation of her own life would contribute to righting the orientation of the world.” 
Prayer: Dear God, we want to give our lives to things which extend beyond ourselves. Give us vision for people the way you see them. Help us to see the potential in our industry — the ways in which our work can contribute to human flourishing. Expand our vision and give us focus, even in times of great difficulty, that we might join in the work of your Kingdom right here and now. Amen.
 Flannery O’Connor, A Prayer Journal. Macmillan, 2013. |  David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life. Hachette Book Group, 2009. |  Casey N. Cep. Inheritance and Invention: Flannery O’Connor’s Prayer Journal, The New Yorker. November 12, 2013.