How To Have A Successful Life

Many of us strive for that elusive success in our lives. We do everything we can to achieve what the world considers “success”. We strive, we try to control, and we even make sacrifices, all for this so called success, but it often still eludes us. Or if we do mange to achieve what we or others may consider success, we find it's bittersweet, and not as satisfying as we had expected. Or that the price we paid for it was entirely too high.

How then, can we be both successful and satisfied?

First, perhaps we need to re-define success. As Christians, the greatest success we can ever achieve comes from our intimate relationship with God; from knowing God, and His will for our lives. All the things that the world views as success cannot ever begin to provide the soul-deep satisfaction that finding and fulfilling God's purpose for us does. All the things that worldly success provides will one day be nothing but ashes, for the Bible tells us:

For no other foundation can a man lay than what is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall test every man's work of what sort it is. (1 Corinthians 3:11-13)

Will the things we've spent our lifetime on stand up to the fire? As the old song says, only what we do for God will last. All the rest is wood, hay, and stubble.

To truly be successful, we have to decide once and for all to give Jesus complete control of our lives. When we try to be the one in control, we are serving as our own god, and that is idolatry! We far too often put our own wants and desires ahead of Jesus in our lives. We try to work things out our own way, and if we do pray about it, it's only to ask God to bless our efforts. We tell Him what we want Him to do, but seldom do we ask what He wants us to do! As an old pastor said, “Many people want to serve God, but only in an advisory capacity.”

If we have been kind of lukewarm as a Christian, it's time to get real about our relationship with Christ. We already know He is Sovereign; the question is: are we going to allow Him to reign in our hearts and lives or not? Satan loves lukewarm, carnal Christians who live only for themselves and let their own desires chart the course of their lives.

So then what exactly do we need to do in order to have a truly successful life?

1. Commit to a cause that lives longer than you. How much of our time and talent and energy and money do we spend on things that will not matter one bit 20, 30, or 50 years from now? When we live only for the moment, always seeking our own desires, we will never be satisfied and successful, because there's always something new to desire, something more to want. But when we commit ourselves to God's cause, the things we spend our time, talents, energy and money on will make an eternal difference. What we are spending here is building up our reward in heaven. That's very satisfying, and is the only true measure of success.

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust does corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust does corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: (Matthew 6:19-20)

2. Think about the big picture. The difference between failure and success is seeking short term gains instead of long-term gains. Successful people focus on the long-range, rather than merely the here and now. Is what we want right now important enough that it is worth sacrificing our future for it? We have to learn to think about what we want MOST, instead of what we want NOW.

But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)

3. Go with your strengths. God has given each one of us strengths and spiritual gifts. We can't waste our time and energy trying to do what we are not good at. We must honestly evaluate our strengths and interests, and humbly ask God how He wants us to use them in His service. Little jobs done in the service of the Lord are every bit as important as the "big" jobs. Don't try to follow someone else's calling - we will never be truly successful doing something we are not called to do. And God is not obligated to bless any effort He did not call us for.

And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helpers, administrators, various kinds of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:28)

4. Don't procrastinate - get busy now! We each have the same 24 hours in a day. People who are successful have learned to make the best use of their time- they do not procrastinate. Procrastination leads to frustration and mistakes, and unnecessary stress and frustration. We end up having to rush, because we wait until the last minute to get the job done, so we are far more likely to make mistakes and do a sloppy job. Don't wait, don't procrastinate: just do it! Work as though we are working for the Lord, because we are! Do we really want to tell Him we'll get to it later?

And whatsoever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord you shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for you serve the Lord Christ. (Colossians 3:23-24)

5. Find the causes of your failures, and instead of ignoring them, determine to change them. What causes us to fail? Most of us cannot clearly see our faults and shortcomings. We must ask the Lord to reveal them to us, and help us to overcome them. The most common causes of failure are:

· Laziness – We know that laziness, or sloth, is one of the Seven Deadly sins. Nothing reduces the abundant life Jesus wants us to have as much as laziness and procrastination. Nothing in life is going to be handed to us on a silver platter. If we want to be successful it is going to take some effort.
Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall your poverty come like a robber; and your want like an armed man. (Proverbs 24:33-34)

· Bitterness, anger, resentment, or jealousy – Often we look at someone who has what we want and feel one of these destructive emotions. We think they've had all the breaks, or life's been unfair to us, or we deserve it more than they do. These emotions are dangerous to us in more ways than one. First, they take our focus off God and put it on others. Emotions like these wear us down, and keep us from doing the best we can to achieve what we want. And these emotions always lead to sin if left unchecked and unconfessed. Confess them and get rid of them!

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be you kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

· Greed - The root of greed is dissatisfaction with what we have, always wanting more, or wanting what someone else has. It is a sin, because it is discrediting God's providence, as if it what He has already given you is not enough or is not satifactory. It casts doubt on God's goodness. It can make us commit other sins, to get whatever it is we're greedy for.

For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. (1 Timothy 6:10)

· Immorality or hidden sin - Do not think that our secret sins and hidden vices are hidden from our Almighty God! If we try to hang onto our little "pet" sins, no matter how we try to justify it to ourselves, we are not fooling God.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me: (Psalms 66:18)

But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:2)

· Generational curses - Sometimes we are part of a long line of generational curses, through no fault of our own. We cannot help the family we are born into, and we cannot atone for the sins of past generations. What we CAN do is determine that this generational curse will stop with us. We will not pass it along to the next generation as it was passed onto us. We have to recognize the sins of our forefathers and the effects those sins have had in their lives and in ours. We can then confess the sins of our forefathers, and confess and repent of our own, asking God to remove the generational curse and bless us and our families. God told Moses:

And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth. Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation. Exodus 34:7

Know therefore that the LORD your God, he is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; Deuteronomy 7:9

6. Set specific goals. Stay focused. Goals must be specific and measurable. A vague, undefined goal is easy to slip and slide around. Israel wandered for 40 years in the wilderness because they didn't have a specific goal. We need to have a vision for our life and set specific goals to make that vision a reality. Setting specific goals helps us see where we are and how much progress we've made, and what else is necessary to complete our goals, knowing that ultimately, God will reward us.

I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

We are promised a crown of righteousness from the Lord at the end of our race. Now that's what I call true success!

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