BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
Whatever you may have thought about the topic of this message, rest assured that the message is to help you succeed, not to teach you how to fail!
On April 10, 1912, the Titanic set out on her maiden cruise from Southampton, four city blocks long, carrying the latest and the best safety devices available and 2200 passengers on board. Her destination was New York. The Titanic had a French sidewalk café and luxurious suites but apparently, because of the overconfidence of her builders, she carried only twenty lifeboats for 2200 on board.
The builders of the greatest ship ever then vouched for the integrity of her construction and the reliability of her engines and equipment. Unfortunately, the Titanic, despite its reputation and the grand send-off, sailed the seas for only five days. Tragedy struck when she hit an iceberg; in just two hours and forty minutes, she sank with 1523 people dying. Only 705 survived the shipwreck described as one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters. The ship described as unsinkable sank on April 14, 1912, a testimony of the fallibility of man.
What was responsible for this monumental tragedy? It was found out that the Titanic shipwrecked because she failed to heed six warnings; her wireless operators reportedly received at least six messages which described field ice and icebergs directly on her way ahead but the advice was ignored.
Success is sweet and enjoyable; failure is bitter and painful. Regrets follow most failed attempts at success – regrets about what should have been done that were not done or regrets about what should not have been done that were done.
Everybody wants to succeed in life. Just to make it in life, people can go to any length to do what God forbids or what the laws governing their societies forbid. In addition, when they are caught and sanctioned, regrets follow in most cases.
Success in life is not a matter of putting in one’s efforts alone; other factors come to play. When those factors are not in one’s favour, failure is inevitable.
Notwithstanding what many call success, I’ve identified some characteristics of those who will fail in life even when they have great potential.
12 Characteristics of those who will fail in life
(1) The unbelieving. He doesn’t believe in God; he doesn’t believe in the principles of the scripture – holiness, prayer, honesty, faithfulness, sowing and reaping, etc. If you don’t believe in God, it is not important what else or who else you believe in. Any success outside of God is a failure! Unfortunately, many people discover this truth too late in life.
The story of the man in the Bible who built his house on the sand and not on the rock exemplifies this. He must have celebrated in a grand style his movement into the house while the man who built his house on the rock was still sweating it out with his own building project. However, after both of them had completed their buildings, the buildings were tested by rain, flood, and storm and the house built on sand collapsed while the house on the rock stood.
Jesus said those who heard His words and practised them were like the man who built his house on the rock while those who heard His words and did not practise them were like the man who built his house on sand. Jesus called the latter, a foolish man (Matthew 7:24-27).
Please understand this: what is important is not how fast a man is going but how far he’ll go. There are people being celebrated today as successful but their failure will manifest in a matter of time. Many of them are disasters going somewhere to happen. If you’re not building with God’s and good materials, it won’t last. Don’t be envious of the prosperity of the wicked; they’re walking on slippery ground (Psalms 37; 73).
(2) The unguided and untutored. He is not guided by God or by those who are more knowledgeable than he is. He does what seems right to him. He has no mentor or teacher. He does not enjoy the guidance of other people. He is the one leading himself. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV).
The unguided and untutored man is an ignorant man. He is unwise. He won’t learn either from God or those who know more than him. His ignorance makes him a candidate for failure. It’s not a sin not to know but it is wrong to refuse to learn when knowledge is available. The untutored man will make costly and needless mistakes because of his folly and ignorance.
You need a tutor or a mentor and you don’t have to have physical contact with him or her or know him personally. There is nothing really like a self-made man! Somebody is either too proud to acknowledge the contribution of some people to his life or he is a liar. No one will make it in life without the input of some people somewhere directly or indirectly. God will always give you tutors and governors in order to bring you to maturity. “Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father” (Galatians 4:1-2 KJV).
(3) The resisted. He is a man opposed by God. He doesn’t enjoy divine support or backing. This happens when a man is operating outside the revealed will of God or consistently violates divine instructions or the Word of God. He equally endangers the lives of those around him. Jonah and Balaam are examples of the resisted men.
God resisted Jonah who was running away to Tarshish instead of Nineveh, which God sent him to prophesy against the city for their wickedness that had come up before Him. Because of Jonah, those in the ship with him would have perished in the sea. But the sea became calm after he was thrown into the sea where God had prepared a great fish to swallow him (Jonah 1:1-16). Jonah later went to carry out God’s assignment.
In Numbers 22, God resisted Balaam who was going on an assignment that God had initially told him not to go. God only told him to go and honour Balak’s invitation to come and curse the Israelites because he asked God about the request a second time when another set of emissaries came from Balak.
However, an Angel of the LORD took His stand in the way as an adversary against him. He stood in the way with His drawn sword in His hand such that the donkey Balaam was riding kept avoiding the sword until there was no way to turn either to the right hand or to the left. She lay down under Balaam. In anger, Balaam struck the donkey with his staff and the LORD opened the donkey’s mouth. She objected to Balaam striking him. Then the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes and he saw the Angel of the LORD standing in the way with His drawn sword in His hand. He bowed his head and fell flat on his face. Balaam couldn’t proceed on his journey until the LORD allowed him.
A resisted man does not enjoy the mercy, favour, and blessing of the Lord. If God is against a man, it does not matter who is supporting him. He’ll fail miserably. I pray that you’ll be God-assisted in life, not God-resisted.
(4) The unwilling. He is not serious about succeeding in life. He’s unwilling to pay the price. He only wishes to succeed. He likes success in other people but is not willing to do what they did. He is not willing to practise the principles that brought them to success. Such a person daydreams a lot. He is always building castles in the air. He could talk big but is not willing to start small.
You must walk the talk; no one becomes great by just talking. There is no way you can make a man succeed who is unwilling. Even if you push him into success, he will still fall out of it! You can force a sheep to the river but you can’t force it to drink water.
(5) The undecided. He never really seems to be able to make up his mind. He is reluctant, very hesitant. He is a double-minded man. He does not know if he should be here or there. You find it difficult to know where he’s standing. He’s always changing his mind without any convincing reason. He makes plans but doesn’t make decisions. He fails to start the process that will culminate in his success. He’ll fail in life.
God hates double-mindedness or indecision; it is a manifestation of a lack of faith. As regards prayer, a double-minded person will receive nothing from God. “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:6-8 NKJV).
(6) The undiscerning. I am talking about the spiritually undiscerning – those who lack spiritual sensitivity and don’t enjoy divine leading. They’re only controlled by their five senses – what they can touch, feel, smell, taste, and see. This is a low life – they’re controlled by their brains alone.
Your brain alone is too small to run your life. Every great person will tell you that one of the secrets of their success is perception. They may call it by different names – perception, a nudging, awareness, “something told me”, sensitivity, feeling, “it just occurred to me”; they can’t explain it. But they acted on it all the same and success answered them. They stumbled into success as it were! This is something that can’t be taught to another person.
God has given the Holy Spirit to His children as an advantage superior to natural perception. “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you” (John 14:26). An undiscerning person can’t discern with the help of the Spirit of God; they can’t perceive divine opportunities, danger, deception, etc. They lack a knowing within them. You need divine sensitivity if you won’t fail in life.
(7) The unfocused. The unfocused man is a jack of all trades and master of none. He is easily swayed by what is happening around him. He follows what is in vogue, very unstable. He’s often controlled by his emotions. He’s a people-pleaser. Because he lacks focus, he can’t get anywhere, not even following others sometimes to their own destination! He is easily distracted. Philippians 3:13-14 says, “Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (NKJV).
(8) The unexcited. He lacks enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, a word that first appeared in the English Language in 1603 is from the Greek word enthousiasmos meaning “possession by a god”. The adjective entheos consists of two words, “en” meaning “in” or “within” and “Theos” meaning “god.” So entheos, means “having the god within.” However, enthusiasm has become commonly used in modern times to mean zeal, eagerness, passion, and the like. Let the Living God possess you in the pursuit of your life assignment. Let the God in you move you – be excited. An unexcited man is a negative influence on those around him; he discourages them. His morale is low and he influences others with his lackluster attitude.
An excited person with average knowledge will achieve more and affect more people positively (even if he’s pursuing a wrong cause) than an unexcited knowledgeable person. If you’re not excited about what you are doing, hardly will people join you. Excitement is contagious; the converse is also true.
The unexcited man is an uninspiring man. Are you passionate about your dream? Are you passionate about your business, your career? If there’s no excitement in you, you may need to review your life and decide whether you should still continue in the same direction you’re going. I’ve never seen a man who is positively excited, and who is not a joyful man. “Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy” (Luke 19:6 NLT). Zacchaeus took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy!
Moreover, Matthew 13:44 says, “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field” (NLT). Excitement! The man in question in this scripture was excited. His excitement moved him to sell everything he owned to get sufficient money to buy the field he discovered had a treasure hidden in it.
(9) The unfaithful. They’re disloyal both to God and to human beings. Rather than serve faithfully, they’re looking for their own thing; they’re self-centred. Even if they do get it, they can’t keep it. The unfaithful don’t give their best; they think people will just use them. The unfaithful think they’re smart but they self-destruct. Gehazi, the servant of Prophet Elisha, and Judas are examples. Gehazi was unfaithful to his master, Elisha. He greedily went to collect the gifts Elisha had rejected, lying to Naaman that Elisha sent him. His punishment for unfaithfulness and greed was the leprosy of Naaman that clung to him and his descendants forever (2 Kings 5).
Also, Judas was unfaithful to his master, Jesus. He betrayed Him to the Jewish leaders for thirty pieces of silver. But when he saw that Jesus had been condemned, he was remorseful and brought back the money he collected to the chief priests and elders but they refused to collect it back from him. He threw down the money in the temple and went to commit suicide (Matthew 26:14-16, 47-50; 27:3-7; Acts 1:18).
The unfaithful are unaccountable; they always desire autonomy before they’re ready for it. The prodigal son exemplifies this. Strangely, he demanded from his father his share of his father’s properties. He took everything, went to a far country, and squandered everything in riotous and scandalous living. But after hunger taught him a lesson, he returned to his father who, as a loving father, received him back (Luke 15:11-32).
A faithful person is dependable or reliable. Matthew 24:45-46 says, “Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? 46 It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns” (NIV). Luke 12:42-43 says a similar thing.
God expects faithfulness from everyone who has been entrusted with an assignment or who is under authority. “Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV). When a man is found faithful, he’ll experience promotion, enlargement, success, etc. “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’” (Matthew 25:21 NIV).
Make sure you’re not unfaithful. Unfaithfulness robs a man of promotion and enlargement. “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities. And if you are untrustworthy about worldly wealth, who will trust you with the true riches of heaven? And if you are not faithful with other people’s things, why should you be trusted with things of your own?” (Luke 16:10-12 NLT).
(10) The impatient. Proverbs 19:2 says, “Enthusiasm without knowledge is not good; impatience will get you into trouble” (GNT). The New Century Version puts it this way: “Enthusiasm without knowledge is not good. If you act too quickly, you might make a mistake.”
The impatient man is in a hurry, going nowhere. Impatience makes him take shortcuts, which only cut him short! Impatience will make a man produce Ishmael! Learn from Abraham’s mistake in Genesis 16 – how he produced a race that is still causing problems everywhere in the world today. Don’t want it now, now, now! Be patient. Don’t cheat. Don’t be unethical.
Hebrews 6:12 tells us to be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Don’t follow those who’re desperate to have it now by all means not waiting to receive from God. Faith and patience are usually the way of God and you can’t have too much of them. “For ye have need of patience, that after ye have done the will of God ye might receive the promise” (Hebrews 10:36 KJV). Are you ready to wait for God? He that believes God shall not make haste (Isaiah 28:16b). Impatient may prolong your journey; it may cause a delay.
(11) The ungrateful. The ungrateful man doesn’t appreciate what God has done for him and does not thank people for every little or big favour, obligation, or kindness. Nine out of the ten lepers in Luke 17:12-19 were ungrateful folks and Jesus pointed this out to teach us a lesson, not because their gratitude would have made him better. If you’re habitually ungrateful, the sea of kindness will dry up for you. Everyone likes to be appreciated. Don’t belittle people. Robert Schuller said, “Those who belittle people will be little people.” Take note of that. If you belittle people, you will never amount to much.
(12) The undisciplined. He lives a life of no control. He lacks temperance. He can’t control his flesh, finances, mood, tongue, appetite, etc. Self-control is the best form of control and shows a man’s maturity. A man who can’t control his mouth can’t control his life. “Be careful what you say and protect your life. A careless talker destroys himself” (Proverbs 13:3 GNT). Proverbs 18:21 also talks about the power of the tongue: “The tongue can bring death or life; those who love to talk will reap the consequences” (NLT).
Spiritual maturity is shown by the degree to which a man can control his tongue, not how many scriptures he can quote. “If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless” (James 1:26 NKJV).
No one will enjoy life who can’t discipline himself as regards what he says. “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies” (1 Peter 3:10 NLT).
Esau didn’t discipline his appetite and sold his birthright for a plate of food. It wasn’t that Jacob who gave away his food was not hungry. He was also hungry but he was a disciplined man (Genesis 25:29-34). Hebrews 12:16-17 warns us not to be like Esau: “See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. Even though he sought the blessing with tears, he could not change what he had done” (NIV).
Temperance or self-control is part of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:23). It is also one of the supplements to faith believers are charged to add to their faith (2 Peter 1:6). A life of no control is dangerous; it is foolish to live without self-control. Without discipline, a man can’t succeed in life, even if he finds his way to an exalted position, indiscipline will bring him down.
Conclusion: I’m sure you don’t want to fail in life. Don’t be like the builders of the Titanic; don’t be over-confident. Don’t build your life with inferior materials. Don’t feel you don’t need God. Don’t trust your brain alone; you need your brain but you also need spiritual sensitivity. You need tutors and governors, a grateful heart, faithfulness, patience, and discipline.
That you’ve failed sometimes in the past doesn’t mean you’re a failure. That was an experience in life. With faith in God, you can arise from the ashes of that failure and make it again. “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD, and He delights in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the LORD upholds him with His hand” (Psalm 37:23-24 NKJV).
I know that with faith in Jesus the Son of God, you can make it, and you’ll make it. Act on the word you’ve just read; don’t give up. Don’t give up on that examination, business, project, etc. Even if you’ve failed many times, you can still make it! “For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked shall fall by calamity” (Proverbs 24:16 NKJV). It is not the end of the road for you; try again! I believe God the final outcome will be in your favour in Jesus’ name.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot 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 attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am 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 God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523
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