Not too long ago there was a commercial on television that featured young children describing what they wanted to be when they grew up. I cannot remember exactly what they said so I am going to paraphrase the general tone of their comments. One said, “When I grow up I’m going to be drug addict.” Another stated, “I am going to be an unwed mother living in poverty,” while another said, “I am going to be a convicted felon,” and so on. The commercial was using the absurd to illustrate that no one starts out in life wanting or planning on being a failure. However, the sad reality is that so many people are disappointed in how their life turned out. Why is this so?
Theology, psychology and sociology can give us many explanations as to why this is true and many of them would be valid. Jesus gave us a simple explanation for this in Matthew 7:24-27, when He told the parable of the two builders. One man built his house on the sand and another built his on a rock. When the storms came, the man’s house on the sand was washed away. Christ then explained this analogy in verse 24, “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on a rock:”
I would like to make this principle a little more concrete as to what it means to build on the rock – the words of Jesus. God’s words are universal laws; they apply to everyone, everywhere and at all times. They are the keys that unlock the successful life. It was Socrates who reminded us, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Take the time to examine your life and see if you are building on the solid foundation of God’s universal laws of success.
The Law of Theology
What do I believe? Theology is the study of God. First, you must determine what you believe about God. Here is a crash course in just some of what the Bible teaches about God:
He exists and is the Creator of the universe and every living thing. One God in three persons; He is holy, just and loving. He punishes sin but offers grace and forgiveness for sin through the redemption offered in Christ. He has revealed Himself and His love through the inspired scriptures we call the Bible. He will judge the living and the dead at the end of time. He desires a relationship with us forever. He created us in His image to represent Him in this world. This gives each person intrinsic worth and purpose.
Our theology determines the laws of our nation, our morals, character and ethics. These things are not developed in a vacuum but are based upon a belief system. To have a good life, a successful life, it is critical to believe the right things about God. Our belief system will determine our behavior, which will determine the quality of our life.
The Law of Success
What is it? Success is more than position, power or possessions. Solomon had all of that but found it all “vanity”. Jesus asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36). True success is about potential and balance. It is about achieving my God-given potential and not comparing my accomplishments or myself to others. It is about balancing all areas of my life – work, family, finances, personal growth, health, social and spiritual. A person is not a true success by excelling in only one or two areas of life. All of these things make up the total individual.
The Law of Personal Responsibility
What is my part? I alone am responsible for my attitude, actions and reactions, not people or circumstances. People can and will do wrong, unkind and even illegal things to you in life. The best people will fail and disappointment you. People who should protect, help and love you unconditionally sometimes will not. This will at times wound you deeply. It will cause you to struggle with bitterness, disillusionment and cynicism. However, at the end of the day each of us must decide how we will play the hand life and others have dealt us.
The road to failure is paved with the bricks of excuses, denial, justification and blaming others. God created us with free will and that is why there is a judgment day at the end of time. This is the ultimate accounting day. Until then we will find ourselves at many times in life giving account of our actions to many people in our life. A long time ago a coach taught me that successful people don’t make excuses or blame others. I do not think he was a Christian but he gave some pretty wise and biblical advice. Personal responsibility is a lost character trait today. If you have it, you will stand out in a very positive way from the masses.
The Law of the Harvest
What do I want? Whatever you want in life, sow it. The problem with many people today is they are focused on trying to get what they want. This doesn’t work. It may appear to work for a short period of time but it will not last over time. Scriptures teach us that we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6.7). Determine what you want in life – money, friends or whatever and start to sow it into other people’s lives. Some people call it karma, or what goes around comes around but it is a biblical principle. Now I can tell you it works and so can others but you will not truly believe it until you try it for yourself. There is one little caveat to tell you about this – beware of the motivation with which you sow. Do not give to get – give to bless others. Do not worry about the harvest – leave that to God. Sometimes when our motivation for sowing is the benefit, God withholds the benefit to purify the motivation. A great way to get good at this is to sow what you want into the lives of individuals who do not appear to be able to give you back what you want. God will bring it through other sources.
The Law of Interdependency
Whom do I need and who needs me? “No man is an island,” so said John Donne. No person is self-made. Others have built into our life and helped to mold it. Sometimes people do not realize this or give others credit but it is true. When David the shepherd boy became king over Israel God reminded him he did not accomplish this feat on his own. God lifted David up from the sheep pen to the throne. The unseen hand of God often works behind the scenes and we would be wise to acknowledge this truth. God can do more with our life in one divine moment than we can do with it in a lifetime. Joseph of the Old Testament went from prison to prime minister in one day. Aside from our dependency upon God we need to realize our interdependency upon others. To achieve what God has planned for your life will require more than just yourself; it will take others. This is what a church or a successful company is about – it takes a team. The challenge is to find the right teammates. Do not try to live like the Lone Ranger, realize that you will need others to be successful in life and they will need you.
The Law of Equilibrium
Where do I put my focus now? The dictionary defines equilibrium as “a state of balance or adjustment between opposing forces or conflicting desires”. We are a time-starved culture and most people wrestle with seemingly conflicting priorities. Equilibrium is never permanently achieved but is constantly worked on and tweaked. This is a battle every successful person faces each day. There is a simple solution to this problem – keep God your number one priority. This is not the same as church or service for God. This is your personal time with God where you develop and deepen an intimate relationship with Him. There is only one person that can keep your life in balance and that is God.
The Law of Legacy
What am I leaving behind? How will the world be a better place because of my efforts and life? This is a desire we all have – a desire for significance. This is accomplished when I am able to connect what I do and how I live with a cause greater than myself. If you cannot do this you will have a purpose problem. This leads to the existential crisis – “what is the meaning of my life?” God’s plan is not for you to live life in a state of boredom or discouragement. We need to come to the end of our days with a sense of completeness because we have finished God’s plan for our life.
Build your life on the solid foundation of God’s laws and you will achieve true success. You will bless those whose lives you are responsible for now and benefit the generations who come from you physically or spiritually. That is a life well lived!
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Dr. Hawkins at [email protected]