DOES GOD WANT YOU TO BE A SUCCESS?
By Eddie Hedges
You are scheduled to interview for a job that you really want. A final review of your resume is complete, just to be sure everything is up to date and accurate. You make sure you look your best. While driving to the interview you rehearse the things you are going to say and questions you want to ask. Earlier this morning you read in the Bible where you are to have a humble spirit. So you have a problem. How can you be humble, yet tell your potential employer how great you are and that you are the best candidate for the position with his or her company? Does the scripture not apply in this case? What would God want you to do?
Something that I have often thought about is why some people are a success and others appear to be unsuccessful? How much control do we have over our own destination? Does God give us the ability to improve our lot in life or are we going to be what we are regardless? Are we individually predestined for success or failure? Does God even care one way or the other? Are there principles for success stated in the Bible and if so, are they there for anyone to read and apply or are they written just for a select few?
First, I think we need to determine what success is and what is failure? Success, to me is becoming the person God wants us to be and being obedient to His will in our life and accordingly, being blessed by God for our being faithful. Failure would be just the opposite or not becoming the person God wants us to be and not being obedient to His will. So then, how much control do we have over the outcome and can we make decisions that will make us more successful, in God’s sight? “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”, 1 Corinthians 10:31 NIV. All that we do is to be done to bring glory to God, not to us individually. Why would God instruct us that we are to glorify Him if we did not have a choice over our actions? If we, in fact, have the choice over our actions, then we decide how much effort we want to exert in each situation. We determine how we will react to the various situations we encounter. My personal belief is that God greatly desires to bless us. But we must be obedient to His will before God, in His sovereign wisdom, bestows His blessings upon us. Jeremiah 33:3 KJV says, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not”.
Where do we start on our road to becoming a success in the will of God? I think it starts with Romans 12:2 (NIV), “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then, you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” We must change the way we think. To be transformed is to change form, nature, character, or disposition of something or someone. Renew is to restore, renovate, revive, or to begin again. The mind is the intellectual faculty, understanding, memory, opinion, or inclination.
So taking this thought and giving a broader definition, we could restate it to be: Change your nature or character by restoring or reviving your understanding, opinion, inclination and intellectual faculty as we search to know the will of God for our lives.
We need to transform our thinking about the value of education. In my opinion, society does not realize the importance of being adequately educated. This is not a criticism of the education system but on society. Parents, educators, and politicians should demand and insist on students learning. Yes, I said demand and insist. Parents are the key and until they realize the only way their children can live a successful life is to be well educated. If we ever want to overcome poverty, we must see that our youth are sufficiently educated. How can people contribute to the betterment of society if they are not properly educated? So many other countries are ahead of the United States in the area of education. I firmly believe it is because they realize the value of educating their children. It is vital that we have a renewing of our mind about the importance and value of education. We need a hunger and thirst for knowledge. And education does not cease when we receive a college degree. It continues throughout life.
I think the change in our thinking that many people today need is people accepting responsibility for their individual actions. It’s always someone else’s fault: it was my environment, my social status, my race, my peers, and any other excuse you can use. But can you find a legitimate reason, and there is a huge difference in an excuse and a valid reason. Walt Kelly, the author of the comic strip Pogo states, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Sadly, this is the situation we are in today. We have become our own worst enemy. We desperately need to be transformed by the renewing of our minds before we destroy ourselves. This change in the way we think will help us become more what God wants us to be.
THE PRINCIPLE OF STEWARDSHIP
Our possessions, including the gifts and talents God has given us, are ours as gifts of trusteeship or stewardship. A trustee is a person who holds and manages property for another. A steward is a person in charge of another’s business. We are God’s trustees or stewards and He expects us to manage His possessions to the best of our ability.
“Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” 1 Corinthians 4:2 KJV.
“Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” 2 Timothy 1:14 NASB.
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things. Enter thou into the joy of thy lord” Matthew 25:21 KJV.
From this verse, do you see two promises from God when we are good stewards?
- He “will make thee ruler over many things.” Being a good steward over a few things means we will be rewarded by becoming a steward over many things.
- We will “enter thou into the joy of our Lord.”We will be happy. Happiness comes when we are in the will of God.
As we develop and mature in our stewardship, God is able to entrust us with more of His resources. Good stewardship in a little means being entrusted with more. Does this not support that God wants good things for us?
“For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath” Matthew 25:29 KJV.
If we are good stewards, we will be given more and we will have abundance. Why? Because God knows we will take good care of His possessions. Good stewardship, in a little, leads to being entrusted with more. God rewards faithfulness with new opportunities and responsibilities. Think about this. If you are not a good steward with what God was given you, why would He trust you with more?
Another point to note is that God does not want to receive the talents or resources exactly as He gave them. He wants them expanded.
Read Luke 12:42-48 KJV.
Verse 44 says that the faithful and wise steward will be made “ruler over all that he hath.” However, verse 47 states that the unfaithful servant “shall be beaten with many stripes.” The good steward is rewarded and the bad steward is punished.
An additional aspect important to remember concerning our stewardship responsibilities is this statement: The kingdom of God is about addition and multiplication. It is not about subtraction and division. His kingdom is to be increased, not to decrease or stay the same. God wants His kingdom to expand and grow.
Everything we have belongs to God. If we want to “enter into the joy of our Lord,” we must truly accept and acknowledge this fact. God owns all things—our spouse, children, home, job, money, and our very lives. If we are good and faithful servants, God will entrust us with more. If we are not, He will give our possessions and talents to someone who will be faithful.
I believe that everything in which we are associated should be better because we were a part of it. This applies to family, relationships, work, church, or religious activities. Did we make a difference because of our involvement? Especially, did we make a godly difference in someone’s life? To me, that is being a good steward and a success in God’s eyes. I personally believe this brings joy to God.
SUCCESS THROUGH A PROPER ATTITUDE
Often the difference between success and failure is attitude. What determines that one sibling achieves success and another does not? Are they not raised in the same environment and have the same opportunity for success? Do they not have the same “excuses” for failure? Please note that I said excuses and not reasons. More often than not, the difference comes down to attitude and individual determination. Too often we can find excuses for our actions, but can we really find legitimate reasons?
Please permit me to give a Biblical illustration to explain my thinking because our attitude often determines whether we see things as opportunities or obstacles. From Numbers Chapters 13 and 14 we read the story about Joshua, Caleb, and the ten other men sent by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan, prior to the Israelites entering the Promised Land. When the twelve men returned with their report, ten stated that the land did overflow with milk and honey and fruit, but its inhabitants were giants and their cities were fortified. Ten of these men saw too many obstacles to overcome. Joshua and Caleb stated that the land was an exceedingly good land and that it could be taken by the Israelites. All twelve men saw the giants and that the land was flowing with milk and honey and the fruit. The fruit was clusters of grapes so large that a branch with a single cluster had to be carried on a pole between two men. What was the difference in the ten spies and Joshua and Caleb? It was their attitude. All twelve saw the giants and the grapes. God told all of them that He would be with them, just like He tells us today. Ten saw obstacles and two saw opportunity for victory and to enter the Promised Land. Ten said, “We cannot do this.” Joshua and Caleb said, “With God on our side, the victory is ours.” All twelve had the same opportunity for victory and success. Each one of us has the ability to “see the grapes of opportunity instead of the giants of failure.” Does our attitude not determine whether we “enter the Promised Land” of our lives?
Another Biblical example would be the prophet Daniel. Daniel had been taken captive in Babylon. He was a young man in captivity in a foreign country. You would think he would be bitter and angry—and that he would work against his captors and try to undermine them. Or you might think he would do whatever crossed his mind—morally or not—because, after all, he was in a foreign country and no one would know of his actions. What difference would it make? He had been dealt a bad hand and was in an immoral environment. Who would be affected but him if he did not do the right thing? After all, it was his life. Daniel had “excuses” to not try and give his best. This is where Daniel’s attitude determines the direction of his life. From Daniel 1:8 the Bible states, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way.” The key word here is resolved. To be resolved means to have a firm determination to make the most of our life. It means that Daniel determined, in advance and at a young age, the course for his life.
Is this not the same for all of us? Yes, we can find “excuses” to not try and succeed. Or we can be resolved, just like Daniel, to give our best and contribute to the success of ourselves and others. To take advantage of the opportunities this great Nation presents to anyone willing to work and sacrifice. We can determine that we will be givers and not takers.
When we start to school, is it not the objective to advance and progress each year and to increase our learning? Do athletic teams not practice to improve instead of staying the same throughout the season? Why should our work and careers be any different? We should be striving to grow and advance, not to stay where we start. We should have the attitude and determination to build up and not tear down. If all workers and employers had this attitude, would it not be good for the growth and stability of our economy? Would we all not be better off and create more opportunity and success for everyone?
Consider the story of David and Goliath, taken from the 17th Chapter of 1 Samuel. A review of the scriptures says that the giant, Goliath challenged the armies of Israel to send someone to fight with him. The soldiers of Israel all heard Goliath defy them, including the King of Israel, Saul. Yet David, who was a youth and not a soldier, accepted Goliath’s challenge. David said, “I come to thee in the name of the Lord of Hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, who thou has defied.” Was God not the Lord of all the armies of Israel? What made David stand up to Goliath when the soldiers of Israel would not? It was his attitude and his belief that God would stand with him. Verse 47 states,”…for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.” That is the way it is with you and me. The battles in our lives are the Lord’s. We only need to place the battle into His hands and let Him give us the victory over the giants we face. But it is our attitude that determines the effort we will make to achieve the victory. I wonder how different David’s life would have been if he had not accepted the challenge from Goliath. Would he ever become the King of Israel? Would God have later stated that he was a man after God’s own heart? The point I want to make is that we determine our future by the decisions we make today. Will we fight or will we run from the battle? Each time we are faced with a challenge, our faith is tested. Will we trust God to give us the victory or will we just accept the consequences? When we engage in the battle we become stronger and we start to see God at work in our life. David was able to use his encounters with the lion and the bear to prepare him for the battle with Goliath. And God will use our experiences to prepare us for future battles. Stand firm and fight the fight before you. God is with you, just as He was with David.
USING OUR TALENTS
From Matthew 25:14-30 Jesus tells the parable of the talents. If you will recall, the lord was going on a journey to a foreign country. Before he left he delivered to his servants his goods for them to oversee while he was gone. To one servant he gave five talents, another two talents, and a third servant he gave one talent. To each servant he gave goods according to their ability. The servant with five talents traded the goods and made another five talents. The servant with two talents traded and made another two talents. But the servant with one talent hid the talent in the ground. When the lord returned and inquired about his goods, notice that he praised the good and faithful servants and increased their responsibilities. He rewarded them for being good stewards with the goods he had placed in their care. He further told them to enter into the joy of their lord. But, when the servant with one talent returned the goods to the lord, the lord was angry and condemned the unfaithful servant for not being a good steward. Then the lord punished the unfaithful servant. Further, verse 28 tells us that the lord took the talent from the unfaithful servant and gave it to the one who originally had five talents. Why would the lord do this? Verse 29 gives us the answer, “For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him” (NIV). God rewards those that are faithful with the gifts and talents He gives them. He wants us to be good stewards and to add to the value or expand what He has entrusted unto us to oversee for Him. 1 Timothy 6:20 tells us to guard what has been entrusted to our care. We could substitute our name for Timothy when reading this verse of Scripture. Good stewardship is rewarded while being unfaithful is punished. Why would we expect God to reward us with more when we are not faithful with what He has already given us?
BEARING FRUIT, SOWING AND REAPING
I grew up in a small farming community in West Texas. Many of my friends are farmers. In the springtime, they prepare the soil for planting. When the conditions are right, they plant their crops. If they left the seed in the barn instead of planting them, what would happen? Nothing at all would happen.
But when the seed is planted, properly cared for, and the right weather conditions exist, it will produce more fruit and more seed. The seed’s purpose is to produce, but for it to be productive, it must be planted. The important thing is that it grows and reproduces. Another consideration is when the farmer has planted the seed, he does not want the seed back the same as when he planted them. He wants them to grow and hopefully produce a bountiful crop and yield even more seed for future corps.
Your life is like the farmer’s seed. You can either plant the seeds, or your gifts and talents, or you can leave them in the barn. You have the power to decide what you will do. Remember this thought from Leadership Author and Speaker, John Maxwell, “You cannot harvest what you have not planted. You cannot harvest where you have not planted.” Think about how this applies to your life. Yes, you will reap what you sow. Are you sowing seeds of success, mediocrity, or failure? Do you realize that when you are mediocre or in the middle, you are as close to the bottom as you are the top?
“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth for good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things” Matthew 12:35 KJV.
“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one; and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor” 1 Corinthians 3:8 KJV.
We are rewarded according to our own labor or effort. We reap what we sow and we receive the benefit of what we sow, but we will also suffer the consequences. We would be wise to listen to God’s warning about sowing and reaping. When God gives us a warning, is it not to protect us and for our benefit?
Jesus tells us in John 15:1-8 that we are to bear fruit. But did you notice the compounding effect stated in the verses? Verse 2 says we are to bear fruit. The verse then states that we are to bear more fruit. Finally, in verses 5 and 8 we are told to bear much fruit. So the compounding effect in our lives is to bear fruit, more fruit, and much fruit. But notice also that we are to abide in Jesus. He is the source and power for us to be fruitful or successful.
Most people do not understand the power of compounding. Think of it in the terms of the seed we discussed earlier. The seed is planted and it bears fruit and more seed. Then the seeds are planted to yield more fruit and seed. The process continues on but it builds up every year producing more seed to be planted. Compounding is reinvesting the yield for even greater yield in the future. This concept is extremely powerful. Please do not overlook this concept.
The process of compounding can apply to many areas of life. We “network” to build relationships. Businesses advertise to sell their products; they then often try to cross-sell additional products. The compounding of our finances is the key to our financial growth and stability. Our education system is designed whereby we grow each year. Growth and expansion is vital in building a career.
In your own life, think of it in terms of the number of seeds or amount of good you can do that can be planted to glorify God and enrich the lives of others, as well as your own. Think of the effect this could have for generations to come. What we do, say, and teach may affect the lives of our great-grandchildren. Good done now may multiply forever. Think of this as compounding God’s kingdom. Plant the seed and let it reproduce for greater returns. If the seeds you plant during this lifetime continue to bear fruit after you are gone to be with the Lord, you will continue to build your treasures in heaven and enhance lives, even after your death. Is this not being successful and pleasing to God?
COMPOUNDING GOD’S BLESSINGS
Several months ago my wife, Elaine, was having a conversation with a lady that had a friend who felt unworthy to be a success in her business. Elaine phoned me to see if I had any thoughts on how her friend should respond to this person. I really love people that are humble. I believe humility is a godly characteristic and is supported throughout Scripture. Think about which type people you prefer to be around, a humble person or a boastful, arrogant one that can only talk their success?
To answer the question of whether we are worthy of success, please consider why God chooses to bless us. First, I believe it is to bring glory and honor to God. He blesses us and we give Him the praise. We share this praise with others so that God will be magnified. The second reason God chooses to bless us is so we will be able to bless others. Think of this as compounding God’s kingdom. God bless us and we in turn bless others. Then they bless others and the blessings just keep growing and building. And the results are God being further glorified and praised and more and more people are blessed. WOW!!! What an amazing principle God has ordained. A verse of Scripture that supports this is Proverbs 11:24-25 NIV, “One man gives freely, yet gains ever more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed”. Does this not support the thought of God wanting us to be successful, so we can help others?
Another passage that supports the compounding of God’s blessings come from Matthew 6:19-21 KJV, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal; For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
So the question is: Where is your heart?” Is it on worldly things or on heavenly things?
How do we build treasures in heaven? The answer comes from 1 Timothy 6:17-20 KJV, “Charge (command or instruct) them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded (proud or arrogant), nor trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy (God wants us to enjoy His blessings); That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute (share), willing to communicate (praise God for His blessings), laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy (substitute your name for Timothy), keep that which is committed to thy trust.”
Yes, God has committed many things to our trust. As God’s trustees, we are to use our talents, money, and time to help others and to build up God’s Kingdom. We are to do things that will have a lasting benefit on people’s lives and that will build our treasures in heaven. We thankfully and prayerfully take the blessings God gives us and use them to bless others. Then we let God use them to compound His Kingdom and to bring further glory to Him.
RUNNING FOR THE PRIZE
If you have ever participated in athletics, especially team sports, you understand that victory does not come easy. To be successful, it takes a lot of practice, training, dedication, studying, discipline, and sacrifice. And your competitors are working hard to achieve the victory, just as you. Look at what 1 Corinthians 9:24 NIV says, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”
The last part of this verse reads “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” Why would God put this in the Bible if He did not want us to be successful? We are to run and participate to get the prize, the victory. Does this not encourage us to be successful spiritually, financially, in marriage, personal relationship, business, etc. I have not been able to find any Scripture in the Bible that encourages us to be unsuccessful according to God’s view of life.
Another message from this verse of Scripture is that you do not have to be the best in everything you do, but you are to be the best that you can be. The verse says, “Run in such a way as to get the prize.” It does not say that you must get the prize. But we are instructed to strive to achieve the prize.
A student is not expected to make the highest grade on every exam, but the teacher does expect them to do their best. Why should we expect any less from ourselves?
As much as they may want it, a coach does not expect an athlete or team to win every game, but they do expect each person and team member to give their best effort.
This principle is true in the business world as well. We are not all capable of running a large corporation, but we are all capable of doing our best in our work.
We all know that victory does not come unless we put forth the effort. We cannot set back and expect God to just hand us the victory. But we are already defeated if we do not participate. Please grasp that thought. You are defeated if you do not participate in the various races of your life. You have conceded victory to someone else when it could have been yours. Run the race in such a way that you will receive the prize.
Do We Have Control Over Our Destination?
I would like to try to answer that with a series of questions:
Did you decide what to have for breakfast this morning?
Did you decide what to wear today?
Do you have a choice where you work?
Who decides if you go to church or do not go to church?
Do you have the ability to choose a profession or career to pursue?
Can you decide if you save for the future or go into debt to make a purchase which you do not currently have the funds to make?
Going back to the first paragraph of this article where I asked, “Are there principles for success stated in the Bible and if so, are they there for anyone to read and apply or are they written just for a select few”?
Every day we make decisions. This is a gift from God. Accordingly, I believe we each, individually, have the ability to make life changing decisions that will enhance our prospects of success. Of course it may be more difficult for some than others, but that does not mean the opportunity is not there for any of us to grasp and work to achieve.
So to answer the question, “Does God want us to be a success”? I will state what the Bible says in Romans 8:31 NIV, “…If God is for us, who can be against us”?