BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
In Gen 26:12, Isaac had a hundred fold returns from his sowing in the same year. God was the key factor in that if you read the story from the beginning. But in Matt 13:1-8, the sower reaped a harvest only from the seed that fell on the good ground and the harvest varied from hundred fold to sixty fold to thirty fold.
Also in Matt 25:14-30, the servants were each given ten pounds, but they made varying degrees of returns from their investments. Only one had zero result, because he made no investment.
King David was a man greatly acclaimed as a successful king with outstanding success in military campaigns, but David admitted that the chain of successes was not as a result of his prowess. He tells us the secret of his success in his writings. For instance, in Psalm 71:7, he says, “I have become as a wonder to many, But You are my strong refuge” (NKJV). The Living Bible renders this verse thus: “My success – at which so many stand amazed – is because you are my mighty protector.” This does not mean that the psalmist did nothing, but everything he did would have amounted to nothing without God.
The psalmist says again in Psalm 144:1, “Blessed be the Lord, my Rock and my keen and firm Strength, Who teaches my hands to war and my fingers to fight” (Amplified Bible). This tells us that David was successful in wars because God was his teacher. He also said that he had better understanding and deeper insight than all his other teachers because God’s testimonies were his meditation. So what gave him an advantage was the fact that he had access to better teachings from God. And it is impossible for God to be your teacher and you will fail ultimately in life.
Apostle Paul says in 1Cor 15:10, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain; but I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (NKJV). Here we also see the secret of his success – labour and grace, not labour alone. Grace is unmerited favour, but it is also the power of God that causes a man to do more than his natural ability. Paul acknowledged the contribution of Heaven to his success just as David did. But compare these two people with Rehoboam and Nebuchadnezzar in 2 Chron 12:1 and Dan 4:30-32 respectively. They failed to acknowledge the God-factor in their success and they paid dearly for it. Leading a successful life is doing all that you are supposed to do in partnership with God.
The Bible compares the believer to an athlete (1 Cor 9:24-27). From this passage, it is obvious that every runner desires to win the race, but not everyone does. It is in desperation to win in athletics that some have fallen for the temptation of using performance-enhancing drugs, which results in disgrace – even withdrawal of medals won through the use of such drugs after discovery. Yet, there have been those who were able to win without using drugs to enhance their performance. Therefore, they didn’t have to live in the fear of exposure. Anyone who cheats somehow to get to the top will always live in the fear of being found out. But you can be a high-flyer and still maintain your peace, because you hold on to your integrity either in life or in ministry.
Keys to a successful life
Let me share with you some keys to leading a successful life:
1.Invite Jesus into your heart. You need to be born again or surrender your life to Jesus. Come into a personal relationship with Jesus, accepting Him as your Lord and Savior. To be born again is to be born anew or born of the Spirit (John 3:8-9). A man born of the Spirit is like a wind; you can’t tell where he comes from and where he goes – you can’t limit him. That means he is being controlled by the unseen – the Holy Ghost. Therefore, he has access to the invisible.
2. Maintain unbroken fellowship with God. This is done through Bible-reading, meditation and obedience to His word and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says of Enoch that he walked with God and was translated – he disappeared suddenly because God took him (Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5). Every child of God is called to a fellowship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (1John 1:3, 6-7). When you do, you’re connected to heaven, which leads to a collection from heaven.
3. Discover God’s purpose for your life and pursue it. Jesus knew and pursued the purpose of God for his life (1 John 3:8; John 12:27, 18:37). Paul was also conscious of the purpose of God upon his life (Phil 3:12). God revealed His purpose for Jeremiah’s life to him, which was before his conception (Jer 1:4-6), and this was going to be the standard for measuring his life.
You need to pray to know God’s mind concerning you in definite terms; don’t walk in a way that is not good or walk according to your own thoughts (Isa 65:2). You need to pray that God’s thoughts concerning your life will be your thoughts and His ways for you will be the ways you’re following (Isa 55:8-9).
You need sensitivity to recognize God’s purpose for your life and to develop yourself to fulfill it. There can’t be a successful life without purposeful preparation. Poor preparation precedes poor performance.
4. Accept responsibility for your life. Your success or failure depends on you, not any other person. Be ready to give your best; don’t have a ready-made excuse or an alibi that will sentence you perpetually to failure or mediocrity in life.
The four lepers accepted responsibility for their lives; they dared to move into the camp of the Syrians in search of food and were ready to die should they decide to kill them. However, they didn’t die, because a miracle had taken place. They could have stayed back crippled by the fear of death and would have died of hunger when God had already made provision for them (2 Kings 7:3-8).
Esther didn’t just say Mordecai and the other Jews should fast for her, she accepted responsibility for her life by fasting too, before going to the king. “My maids and I will fast likewise. And so I will go to the king, which is against the law; and if I perish, I perish!” (Esther 4:16b NKJV). But she didn’t perish. Luke 17:33 says, “Whoever clings to this life will lose it, and whoever loses this life will save it” (NLT).
5. Set faith-goals in God. Set goals consistent with your divine purpose – faith goals that it takes God to achieve, not goals fired by vain ambition, but goals inspired by God. These are goals that don’t consider your limitations.
After identifying the goals, you’ll need to break them to small manageable sizes to pursue per time so as to avoid being overwhelmed by their sizes. You must sit down and count the cost (Luke 14:28-32).
6. Be ready to learn. Be teachable. Don’t be proud. Humble yourself; God can use anybody to teach you something you don’t know. It is pride to say that God can’t use certain people to teach you something because you’re superior to them in education, social status, hierarchical position, etc. God can use a subordinate to teach his superior something. He can send an associate to teach his principal something, and vice versa. It will take humility for the principal to learn from his associate. “Wise men and women are always learning, always listening to fresh insights” (Prov 18:15 TM). Are you a wise person? Be ready to learn because nobody has a monopoly of wisdom. Open yourself to other people’s wisdom. Get more wisdom (Prov 4:5). “The person with understanding is always looking for wisdom, but the mind of a fool wanders everywhere” (Prov 17:24 NCV). According to Prov 19:8, “Those who get wisdom do themselves a favour, and those who love learning will succeed” (NCV).
7. Be prepared to start small. Think big but start small. Look from where you are; start from where you are (Gen 13:14). Don’t despise your five loaves of bread. (Matt 14:17; John 6:9). Don’t despise the little oil in your house (2 Kings 4:2). Don’t call your pot of oil “nothing.” Don’t go and bury your one talent (Matt 25:25).
Don’t wait for a breakthrough before you start! Start with the small you have. It’s your seed for breakthrough. Avoid procrastination. Don’t look for a perfect condition. “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done” (Eccl 11:4 NLT). Don’t wish you have this or that; use what you have.
8. Quit your comfort zone. Stretch yourself; go the e-xtra mile; don’t be too soft on yourself. Don’t give yourself to pleasure; don’t do only that which is convenient. Successful people don’t do what is convenient; they do what is needful. They don’t do what is comfortable; they do what is imperative. They don’t do what is fashionable; they do what is essential. They don’t do what is reasonable, they do what is innovative.
Prov 21:17 says, “He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not be rich” (NKJV). Oil stands for luxury; another translation calls it perfume. If you love perfume or pleasure more than work, you’ll be poor. That is not to say the use of using perfume is a sin.
Moses became successful because he quit his comfort zone. “By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt; for he looked to the reward” (Heb 11:24-26 NKJV).
Invest your time in your goals. Apply labour to your goals. Sacrifice anything necessary fruifulness; don’t pamper yourself. Success is spelt W-O-R-K not S-L-E-E-P (Prov 6:6-11, 30:25-28, 10:4, 12:24).
9. Endure hardness or hardship. Success usually comes with unfavourable, contrary conditions. It is easier to descend a mountain than to climb up. Every successful mountain climber had opportunity to give up but they refused. They chose to endure.
Be prepared to weather the storm and not give up. The crown or medal is usually for those who didn’t quit, but finished well. Only those who endure to the end shall be saved (Matt 10:22; Matt 24:13; Mark 13:13).“You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim 2:3 NKJV). In verse 10, Paul also talks of enduring all things for the elect’s sake, and in 2 Tim 4:5 enjoins us to endure afflictions.
Jesus Christ demonstrated this to us by his life, and we should emulate him. “Looking unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Heb 12:2-13 NKJV). Your love for your goals and your destiny will make you to endure contradictions you encounter. Love bears all things and endures all things (1 Cor 13:7).
10. Be focused. Avoid distractions. Don’t keep looking back after you have quit your comfort zone. Don’t keep reminding yourself about the garlic, cucumber, etc. of Egypt when you’re on your way to your Canaan just because you’re currently in the wilderness. That was one of the problems the children of Israel had (Num 11:4-6; 14:1-4). At the slightest challenge, they always wanted to go back to Egypt – that kind of thinking does not reflect focus. Focus means that you set your face like a flint (Isa 50:7). You may be missing the garlic and the cucumber of Egypt, but there’s milk and honey waiting for you in your Canaan.
“An intelligent person aims at wise action, but a fool starts off in different directions” (Prov 17:24 Good News Translation). See the focus of David in pursuing his goal of fighting Goliath. He was not distracted by the insult of his brother, Eliab (1Sam 17:26-30). He was not dissuaded by Saul’s lack of confidence in his ability or competence to fight Goliath (verses 31-37). He was neither misled by Saul’s offer to use his armour (verses 38-39). Goliath’s boast and curse did not discourage or frighten him (verses 42-47). David remained focused throughout, ultimately cutting off head of Goliath.
If you are going to be successful in life, you must be focused on your divine purpose and your goal, per time; don’t be here and there, but be where God wants you to be – here or there (1 Kings 20:35-40). Jesus said, “Anyone who lets himself be distracted from the work I plan for him is not fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62 TLB).
11. Enjoy solitude. Successful people enjoy spending quality time alone when they meditate, pray, meditate, plan, strategize, etc. Spend quality and quantity time alone to meditate, pray and plan. Don’t just spend your time running around looking for solutions to problems, which you can pray through and think through. Help yourself by meditating on God’s word and thinking through problems than running after people who can’t and won’t help you.
Great men spend more time alone than with the crowd. God always wants us to spend time alone with Him. This is even truer for leaders. A leader must love being alone. Moses spent time alone with God (Exo 24:1-2). Jesus also demonstrated this example (Luke 9:18; Matt 14:22-23; John 6:15)
You need a quite place where you can be able to commune with God without distraction, a place free from disturbance. Isa 30:15 says, “For thus says the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel. In returning and rest shall ye be saved; in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength and ye would not” (NKJV). This is not a good comment on the children of Israel. Many times God wants to talk with us, but we are too busy to come apart and let him share with us His mind and divine strategies that can turn things around and revitalize us for success. Unfortunately, busyness and activities are not the same as productivity and success. You can be busy doing nothing and being unproductive.
1 Peter 3:4 tells wives to beautify their lives with the ornament of a quiet spirit. Both men and women must possess a gentle and quiet spirit, which facilitates divine inspiration and direction even if there is noise everywhere around us. 1 Thess 4:11 tells us to aspire to live a quiet life.
12. Cultivate the ability to work and walk with people. You can’t achieve success alone; you need the right people around you to work with you. One of the essential ingredients for success in life is the ability to work with people. Not much can be achieved alone. Though you receive the vision alone, you’ll need the right people to partner with you to deliver it. If you can fulfill your divine purpose alone, it must be a small one.
Jesus, the Son of God, couldn’t pursue his life’s assignment alone. One of the very first things he did when he started his ministry was looking for those who would work with him – disciples – and he prayerfully chose twelve of them.
The inability to manage the men God has sent to some people with great vision has been a limiting factor to the degree of success they recorded.
Develop your people skills. Don’t be so jealous over your goal(s) that you become insensitive to the well-being, concern or personal goals of the men God has given you. You must create an environment that contributes to helping them realize their own personal goals while committing themselves to the fulfillment of the corporate goals. Your church or ministry, organization or business must make progress and the individual members should be able to share testimonies of progress they’re making in their individual lives.
Jesus made the disciples; he did not use (exploit) them (Matt 4:19; Mark 1:17). He changed Simon, a reed to a stone (John 1:42). Your leadership must transform your followers; they should be better as they follow you. See David’s mighty men. They were dejected, rejected, bankrupt, etc. under Saul before they came to join David, but they ended becoming mighty men under him. Be a transformational leader (1 Sam 22:1-2; 1 Chron 12).
Work with people who believe in your goal; don’t be bothered about the critics. Who are critics? – Successful people or failures? Some criticisms are borne out of envy. Jesus didn’t mind them – the scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees; they were not his followers. He didn’t spend much time with them. He neither spared them nor let them waste his time.
13. Have faith in God. Remember you can’t be truly successful by your power alone; you need God. Successful people in the Bible were all people of faith The Bible characters mentioned in Heb 11 achieved by the faith the feats they were credited with.
The just shall by faith, and by his faith (Hab 2:4; Rom 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb 10:38). Heb 6:12 says you should not be sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Walk by faith and not by sight (2Cor 5:7).
Faith in God will generate enthusiasm in you, which will motivate you and those working with you. It will also attract the right people to join the pursuit of your vision.
Have faith in God; have God’s kind of faith. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Do all that you can do and God will do the rest; He will take care of the unforeseen developments. Psalm 139: 5 says, “You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me” (NKJV). Another translation renders the same verse thus: “You have provided for every possible contingency sustaining me by your power” (The Psalms for Today: A New Translation from the Hebrew into Current English).
God will take care of every possible contingency when you step out in faith; He’ll sustain you by His power; you don’t have anything to be afraid of. And many times, it is the fear of the unexpected, the unseen that hinders us from moving forward. But God has promised to handle the unseen developments. He knows them before they will ever happen. They can’t catch Him unawares. He has already provided for them. Hallelujah!
14. Allow time to work for you. Be patient with yourself. Success takes time. Don’t kill your goals through impatience. “Impatience will get you into trouble” (Prov 19:2 GNT). The New Century Version puts it this way:” “If you act too quickly, you might make a mistake.” There’s nothing like overnight success. Your faith will not work without patience – you need patience and endurance (Heb 6:12, 10:36, 12:1; James 1:4). Eccl 3:1 says there is a time for everything.
Learn to wait till your change comes (Job 14:14 NKJV) The Good News Bible version of that scripture says, “But I will wait for better times, wait till this time of trouble is ended.” Wait till all your efforts yield impressive result. Don’t be in haste. He that believes shall not make haste (Isa 28:16). Wait for your progress; don’t abort the process.
15. Be grateful. Offer sincere and heartfelt gratitude to God for every progress or step successfully taken and tasks accomplished and offer appreciation to those on your team for their contributions. Don’t see it as your personal achievement. What can you do without God? And what can you do without the right people with you –your church members, your staff, your friends, your customers, etc. “Those who belittle people will be little people” (Robert Schuller). That is a profound statement.
Start with a show of gratitude to God (Psalm 100:4, 26:7, 69:30, 107:22, 116:17, 147:7; Amos 4:5; Jonah 2:9; Phil 4:6; Col 2:6-7; 3:15b, 4:2b). Lack of gratitude will make a man vain in his imaginations and his heart dark (Rom 1:21). If you don’t know how to show gratitude, the sea of kindness to you will dry up.
16. Celebrate your accomplishments with your family. This includes both your biological family and your destiny family. But let your celebration becloud your reasoning to think that you’ve arrived. Don’t let your celebration cause you to abandon or relax on your purpose.
God celebrated his success at every stage of the progress made at creation in Genesis. He reviewed each day’s creation and commended it, but continued working until the sixth day, and rested on the seventh day (Gen 1:10b, 12b, 18b, 21b, 25b, 31b). You can take a brief rest to celebrate every success on your journey to the day of rest, which is still far from where you are.
In 2 Sam 6:18-20, David celebrated the success of bringing the ark of God back to Jerusalem after the initial tragedy. Unfortunately, Michal tried to mess up the celebration and she messed up her life!
David’s also celebrated with his team, namely his friends, elders and soldiers upon recovering all the Amalekites took away, including their wives and children, when they invaded Ziklag (1 Sam 30:18-31). Just as you collectively put your efforts together to achieve a goal, the same way you should rejoice together; no achievement is too small to celebrate on your journey to your destination. It is the addition of your little achievements that results in significant success. When you know how to celebrate supposed little successes, you will end up accomplishing major successes.
17. Avoid complacency. You can do better than you have ever done. Don’t rest on your laurels; don’t lose momentum. Go forward.
The farmer in Luke 12:16-20 became complacent because of his overflowing harvest. He said to himself, “Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!” (verse 19 NLT). He was not ready to work again but to enjoy. He thought he had enough, because he never thought of giving either God or man out of his abundant harvest; it was all about himself. If he was a giver, he wouldn’t have thought and acted like that. He was a greedy person – actually Jesus told the story of this farmer to illustrate greed (verse 5). Despite the fact that this farmer got a harvest much more than he had expected, he failed in its management. He died that same night!
Don’t be at ease or complacent. Amos 6:1 says, “Woe to the complacent in Zion” (NAB). A complacent person will be a careless person. He will never possess all his possession, not because he CANNOT, but because he DOES NOT WANT TO. Examples of such people are some of the tribes of Israel (Judges 1:21, 28-33)
Don’t be satisfied with moving round the mountain (Deut 2:3). Beware of maintenance syndrome. Raise the bar of success for yourself. Be prepared to become all that God wants you to be. Use your current attainment not as a resting place but as a launching pad for higher altitude. Break up your fallow ground; wake up from your slumber (Jer 4:3; Hosea 10:12; Isa 62:1). There is still much land for you to possess (Josh 13:1).
Conclusion: I’m sure you want to live a successful life. Success is God’s will for you. It is not a life that is just a show on earth or a life full of activities, but a life centered on His purpose for your life, which brings no fulfillment in life. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Confess this to yourself thrice: “Nothing is beyond my power in the strength of him who makes me strong!” (Phil 4:13 The Twentieth Century New Testament). Go and be all God wants you to be.
If you’ve decided to give your life to Jesus, please, take the following steps: *Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church. There, you will be taught how to grow in the LORD and how to discover and fulfill God’s purpose for your life.
Kindly say this prayer now: O LORD God, I come unto you today. I know I’m a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my LORD and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I’m saved. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I congratulate you if you’ve said that prayer sincerely. You are now a child of God. May the LORD make you a Cedar Christian. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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