I have been taken lately with a thought that puts success into perspective. As the All Blacks return to our shores having successfully retained the rugby world cup, I can not help but think about what this rugby world cup has taught us about success.
First of all, there was the All Blacks. Although they have their critics, this was obviously a successful campaign for them, after all they brought the trophy home. However, in some ways the All Blacks were only just successful. To be honest (and this may sound hard) they did what was expected of them and nothing more. They did not post exceedingly high scores against the lower ranked teams, they let more than a few tries in that in previous years would not have...all in all, they won the cup, they meet the expectation that most people had on them. (Although I imagine there were a few South African and Australian rugby supporters who hoped they would fall short).
So while the All Blacks won, and therefore it has to be argued that they were successful, but if anything they meet the expectation that was on them and nothing more.
Now, how about Namibia. As a team they entered the cup ranked 20th in the world, the lowest of all the teams. They lost all of their games and left the cup still ranked 20th in the world. However, for at least one player it was a tournament to remember. Not only did their team keep the All Blacks to a poultry 60 odd points, well short of the 100+ most were predicting, Johan Deysel did the unthinkable. Everybody with the possible exception of the 15 on the field from Namibia expected them to lay down and be walked over by the number one ranked team in the world.
The script was written and the papers were ready to print, 'All Blacks White Wash Namibia' was the script. Nobody expected the unthinkable from an unknown centre from the team in Blue. That is till Johan Deysel threw himself over the All Blacks line. The rugby world took note of a man who exceeded expectations that were placed on him and scored a try against the All Blacks. It is a moment he will talk to his grandchildren about. Although his world cup success was different to the All Blacks, it was none the less successful. Unlike the All Blacks Deysel did not only meet expectations, he exceeded them.
When the rugby world looks back at the 2015 Rugby World Cup and considers a team that exceeded expectation, the number one team everyone will remember is not the All Blacks, it will be Japan. For everyone at all connected to rugby in Japan September 20 2015 will be a day to remember. This is the day their David defeated Goliath. As with Deysel, there is no doubt that the Japanese tasted success this Rugby World Cup. There stood up and showed that they are indeed a rugby team. The rugby world took notice and now the idea of the next Rugby World Cup being hosted in Japan no longer seems like a crazy idea.
This Rugby World Cup reminded us of something special about success. No matter how high your ranking everyone has the opportunity to be a success. In fact, the lower your ranking the more opportunity you have to exceed the expectation that the world has on you. Luke 12:48 in The Message states, "great gifts mean great responsibilities; greater gifts, greater responsibilities!". This really is the key message of the parable of the talents. We all have different gifts and levels of giftings. Something that often becomes a burden for people is the concept of success. The issue is our perspective of success. Your success can not be measured on the achievements of someone else. The Bible tells us that if we are given 'three' talents we are not expected to return as much as someone who is given five talents in the beginning. However, if we are given one talent we are expected to invest that talent and get a 'return' on it. We are not to hide that talent away, thinking we are failing because others are 'succeeding' more than us. Take a lesson from Deysel or the Japanese rugby team, who although not winning the Cup went home with their heads held high because they exceeded the expectations others had of them.