How to Reimagine Our Success Around Local Community

by Mark Votava


As I have grown up in a culture that places a high emphasis on being successful, I have struggled with this word over the course of my life.  I do not really want to be successful it seems.  Making a bunch of money, buying nice things for myself, having a lot of approval from others and conforming to family or cultural expectations does not interest me much.  I have been told that I need to grow up and work to become more successful.

  • Not much encouragement to care for the place we live 

Where is the mention in our notions of success of others and how our life contributes to the development and good of the local community we live in.  It seems that care for others has died in our individualistic culture.  It seems that there is not much encouragement to care for the place that we live.  My identity wants to be shaped by a different kind of success, one that values place and others.

  • Free to care and love 

I want to be free to care.  I want to be fee to love the place that I live.  I want to be free to be my authentic self in all that I do.  I want to be fee to create my identity around different kinds of values that bring happiness and peace within.

  •  Celebrating the success of the individual apart from the community

My friend Mark Scandrette, the Executive Director of Reimagine, a center for spiritual formation in San Francisco’s Mission District neighborhood, claims that “our interconnectedness should seem obvious – except for the fact that many of us have been groomed by a society that celebrates the success of the individual apart from the community.”

  •  A more relational way of life together within a particular place

We need more prophets of local, relational living within the body of Christ who will inspire our imaginations toward a more relational way of life together within a particular place.  The ways of individualism need to be subverted.  The ways of interdependence need to be liberated and celebrated in our day and age. The mental illness of this disease of individualism is corroding our humanity into something that is ugly and mutilated.

  •  Things that do not promote togetherness

It is not natural or right to dismember the body of Christ this way.  The local church should be the most interdependent, caring fabric of relationships around.  We have frightfully let our days fill up with things that do not promote togetherness.

  •  Fostering life, reconciliation and hope

We do not relate to each other on a daily basis in ways that foster life, reconciliation and hope.  How long will we live this way and destroy our relational imaginations of generosity, compassion, care, and hospitality toward one another?  If we could get back to interdependence with one another in life, we would live more wholly.

How can we question success and reimagine this word to be something different than what we have been taught?