Archive for the ‘Success’ Category

How Can We Be Successful?

One of the positive things I received from my dad was ambition. I wanted to be a success in life. I wanted my life to count.

But I never seemed to be satisfied with my achievements. If I got promoted to one level, it wasn’t long before I was dissatisfied and wanted a higher one.

I thought at one time that if I became a manager, then I would be successful. So, I became a manager–but I failed as a manager because I never seemed to master supervising supervisors.

Currently, I am trying to succeed at writing. I have written a book, and I write this weekly blog. I have set up some standards to measure success- and I am failing to succeed by my standards. But am I failing by God’s standards?

What Is Success?

Solomon is considered the wisest man who ever lived (although he often did not act on his wisdom). He concludes that success in life is respecting God and obeying him (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

Jesus says that success is to do God’s work and to seek to grow spiritually. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

God says through Jeremiah that success is following God’s plans for our life. “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).

It’s not our arbitrary standards that measure our success. It’s not what others think. It’s not the honor and publicity we receive that determines how successful we are. It’s what God thinks.

And how successful he thinks we are will not be known until the Believers’ Judgment that we all will go through to determine our rewards in heaven (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

From this passage, success to God is the extent that he thinks we did the works he wanted us to do, in his power, and for his purposes.

So, what must we do to be successful?

What We Need to Do To Succeed

One thing we can do to succeed in life is to obey God. Not just know the Bible, but also obey the Bible-and the key to obeying the Bible is learning to rely on God who not only instructs us how to live through the Bible, but also empowers us to live it.

Another thing we can do to succeed in life is to learn to trust God, even when we don’t have a clue where he is leading us. Do we want to limit our trust in Almighty God to do only what we can understand?

God says, “Trust Me with all your heart. Don’t trust your understanding. Then, I will lead you into success as I define it.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, paraphrased).

He also instructs us in the Book of Joshua that success comes through meditation on the Bible and obeying it. Reading, hearing, memorizing, and studying it are all good, but until we meditate on the Bible we often don’t hear what God is revealing to us (Joshua 1:8).

A final thought on what we can do to succeed in life is to love and appreciate God for who he is–and then he promises to bless us with success. “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4). In the process of delighting in him, he changes our desires to match his and enables us to succeed in attaining them.

My prayer is that you will be a success in life and you won’t be fooled by seeking success in how famous you are, how much money you make, or how big is your ministry.

Instead, may you find success in doing what God wants you to do, relying on him to do it, and for the purpose of furthering his work in the world.

Read Full Post »

We Reap What We Sow

I have seen the sad consequences this week of bad decisions leading to bad consequences, both for this country and for a church. I observed that we can’t escape the reality that good results come from good decisions that are made one at a time.

I think of the well-known statement that says,


Sow an act, and you reap a habit.

Sow a habit, and you reap a character.

Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.


Don’t Expect Good Results From Bad Decisions

So, why do we fall into the trap of expecting good results that stem from bad decisions?

I think we often make shortsighted decisions. The sluggard decides to take it easy because it feels good and he still has plenty of money in the bank. But then the unexpected happens and he needs a job and can’t find one. “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands, and your poverty will come in like [gangbusters]” (Proverbs 6:10-11).

We also do not believe the Bible that eventually we will  reap the consequences of what we sow. For example, we avoid confronting sin in our life or someone else’s because it is painful. We avoid immediate pain but sow to the flesh. But God promises us “he who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption” (Galatians 6:8).

We should not expect to reap good results when we have not done business God’s way, in his power, and for his purposes.

Another example of how we expect to reap when we have not sown well is in the area of spiritual growth. Some Christians believe that God will grow them without their sowing to the Spirit by practicing spiritual disciplines. These are activities like Bible Study, going on retreats, and practicing silence. Done in dependence on God, they are an important way to cooperate with God in his transforming us into a loving, peaceful and joyful Christian.

Yet, some of us expect the benefits of the Christian life without work, even through the Scriptures tell us to “work out your salvation in fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Spiritual disciplines do not earn us spiritual growth, but they allow God to do his work in and through us.

How We Sow So We Will Reap

So, how do we sow so that we shall reap what we want?

First, we need to remember that God has wired the world to yield results consistent with what we do, think, and say. “Those who sow trouble shall harvest it” (Job 4:8).

Second, we need to examine each of our actions to insure that they are godly. We can’t expect God’s blessings when we fail to live God’s way each step of the way. “Does He not see my ways, and number all my steps?” (Job 31:4).

Finally, we need to sow to the Spirit in all that we think and do. “Sow to the Spirit and from the Spirit you shall reap God’s blessings” (Galatians 6:8, paraphrased). We sow to the Spirit through obedience, spiritual disciplines, and dependence on the Spirit to enable us to live the Christian life.

“Don’t be deceived, God is not mocked, for whatever you sow, you will also reap” (Galatians 6:7, paraphrased).

Read Full Post »

Can You Handle Success?


I have started a new ministry in the last year and have written a book. I have worked hard to succeed. Both the ministry and the book are trying to help people to grow into a deeper and richer relationship with God. It is exciting and God is blessing!

Lately, it has dawned on me that I may not be ready for success. There is some evidence to suspect that success may get me distracted off my higher priority commitments. These are commitments like my relationship with God and my family relationships. Now, my prayers are, “Lord don’t make me any more successful that I can handle!” “Change me so that I can handle success.”

We all dream of being successful. We want to make an impact on the world. We often want to make a lot of money and live in a big house. We want people to think that we are smart and to respect us. We want to raise good kids and have a great marriage. Then, we will be successful.

But will we be? Do we really know what success is? Will pursuing success cause us to fail at life?

So many of the successful people in the Bible did not handle success well. Solomon enjoyed much success, but ended a disillusioned and bitter old man. David was the greatest ruler Israel ever had, yet at the height of his success he became a murderer and adulterer. Uzziah became powerful as the king of Judah, but then acted proudly and corruptly and his life ended in disgrace.

God warned Israel of success. He warned them not to forget him and become proud when they achieved success in the Promised Land. He did not want them to take credit for the success that he gave them. He warned them “you shall perish, because you would not listen to the voice of the Lord” (Deuteronomy 8: 14-20).

So, can you handle success? I heard it said that for every 100 people who can handle failure, only one can handle success.

But what is success? How would God define success for us? This is what the Bible says:

  • Ø Success is doing whatever tasks God gives us, in his power, and for his honor and purposes (1 Corinthians 3: 10-15).
  • Ø Success is being content with our circumstances as we rely on God’s help (Philippians 4:12-13).
  • Ø Success is respecting God and keeping his commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

So, can you handle this kind of success?

Read Full Post »

We are a people who love success. We are obsessed with it. We love winners! Sometimes we are tempted to be successful at any cost. We sometimes forget the idea that it is not about winning or losing, but how we play the game.

Recently, I think I became too focused on results in my ministry. The results were meager and I wanted to quit. I thought that perhaps the lack of results was God’s will to quit.

So, I prayed to God and meditated on Scripture. However, he impressed on me that he did not want me to quit. He wanted me to keep going.

This reminded me of the prophet, Jeremiah. God gave him a ministry without much success. Israel did not pay attention to Jeremiah’s messages from God. As a result, he was called, “The Weeping Prophet.”

If I continue in this ministry, like Jeremiah, I may be facing a lot of obeying without much success. This is painful! I often use success as a measure of my worth.

Without success, I often feel a loss of worth. However, my worth is great and fixed in God’s eyes (Isaiah 43:4). Nevertheless, the lack of success makes it hard to live in this reality.

Therefore, I think it is helpful for me and for you to know and remember the following truths about obeying God versus success.

  • God’s definition of success is often different from ours (Isaiah 55:8-9)
  • We always succeed when we obey  (1 Corinthians 15:58)
  • Obeying God will always have a greater reward than success  (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)
  • Success will never increase our worth (Ephesians 1:3-14)

May I  challenge to you today to ask God to show you where you may be pursuing success at the expense of obeying him. Ask him to show you what to do about it.

Read Full Post »