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We see this question frequently, often posed to inspire us and make us strive for our dreams. Too many people reach the end of their lives with regret, and we all hope we won’t be one of them.
But what if this notion were actually true? And how can we make it true in our own lives? The key is not to focus upon dreams that have no eternal significance. Instead, if our aspirations involve God, the entire game changes.
It’s hard to set aside the world’s definition of success. It means turning away from the fame and accolades applauded by society, and lifting our sites to do God’s will instead of our own. Or, better yet, to make our will match His.
When we can set aside the glory and popularity that often propel our goals, we can focus upon aspirations that God actually cares about, and will help us attain. President Howard W. Hunter said, “If our lives are centered on Jesus Christ and His restored gospel, nothing can ever go permanently wrong.”
This doesn’t mean there won’t be trials and disappointments, but that God’s plan will ultimately triumph, and if we’re wearing the winning team’s jersey, we triumph as well.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “Nephi made God his partner. If he failed to get the plates, it meant that God had failed. And because God does not fail, it was incumbent upon Nephi to get the plates or lay down his life in the attempt.” When we partner with God and do our best, success is guaranteed. All he asks is our best effort.
Sometimes we need to redefine what constitutes success. A missionary who gives his entire heart and soul to the work, yet doesn’t find anyone willing to be baptized, is still a success—in fact a grand success. But he needs to measure his achievement not by number of converts, but by the sincerity of his devotion to his task.
Parenting is the same way. One need only type “LDS parenting” into their search engine to find dozens, if not hundreds, of quotes from our leaders, reminding us that parental success is measured by our efforts. Unlike many other endeavors in life, here success is not out-come based, since outcomes depend on the free agency of another. Instead, God looks into our hearts and knows our love and our intentions.
We also succeed simply by enduring to the end, and refusing to give up. Jeffrey R. Holland said, “No one has failed who keeps trying and keeps praying.”
The world is filled with frustrated people who have spent their entire lives in an endeavor that has let them down. They’ve tried and tried to become professional athletes, actors, musicians, dancers, prize-winning scientists, famous mountain climbers, noted politicians—and it just never materialized. God is not always equally invested in our mortal goals. But you will never find someone who has made God’s priorities his, and has spent his life in service to his fellowman, who could be called a failure. This is because God will help such a person who decides to let God choose where he or she will invest time and talents—and thus success is guaranteed.
Ironically, many who see these missed mortal goals as evidence of failure, often fail to realize that they’ve achieved in other areas that matter more, such as being a wonderful spouse, a loving parent, a loyal friend, or a generous volunteer in their community.
When we hear the question, “What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” instead of thinking about flying like Superman, making a billion dollars, or even the more realistic triumphs of achievement in our careers, maybe we should see that question as Nephi did, “What could you choose, that will ensure God’s partnership?” And then you’ll know that He would never let you fail in that endeavor. As Richard G. Scott said, “Our Heavenly Father did not put us on earth to fail but to succeed gloriously.” We just need to pick the right goals.
Watch the music video of Hilton’s song, What Makes a Woman, from her new musical, The Best Medicine (with music by Jerry Williams). Her books and YouTube Mom videos are available on her website, here. Hilton currently serves as a Relief Society President.