How to find Success in Life

God intended for us to lead successful lives

The Bible is relevant to our daily living. Whether we are Christians or not we can draw truths from the Bible to help us live our lives successfully.

(Gen 39:2-3 NIV)  The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. {3} When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did,

(1 Sam 18:13-14 NIV)  So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. {14} In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him.

Success Principles in the Bible

Goal setting

We must be focused in order to succeed. Paul was one of the greatest apostles in New Testament times. Why was he so successful? The secret lies in his focus and his ability to set goals for himself.

(Philippians 3:13-14 NIV) {13} Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, {14} I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Paul led a very focused lifestyle. He has a main aim in life.

Jesus too accomplished so much within His three short years of ministry because He was very clear about His "mission statement" in life.

(Mark 10:45) For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Application: What are your goals in life? Write down some of them here.


Planning

Nehemiah wanted to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem that had been destroyed. We can learn how he managed to complete the project successful. He succeeded in his task because he had proper planning.

Nehemiah 2:11­15 (NIV) I went to Jerusalem, and after staying there three days 12 I set out during the night with a few men. I had not told anyone what my God had put in my heart to do for Jerusalem. There were no mounts with me except the one I was riding on. 13 By night I went out through the Valley Gate toward the Jackal Well and the Dung Gate, examining the walls of Jerusalem, which had been broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire. 14 Then I moved on toward the Fountain Gate and the King's Pool, but there was not enough room for my mount to get through; 15 so I went up the valley by night, examining the wall. Finally, I turned back and reentered through the Valley Gate.

Before Nehemiah led his men to build the Jerusalem wall, he took time to plan.  Many plans fail because of the lack of planning.

Application: Think about those goals in life you have written earlier. Do you have a plan to reach them? Write down your plan here.


Preparation

Jesus did not begin His earthly ministry until He was thirty years old. His ministry was a short 3 ½ years.

Jesus understood the importance of preparation. His life before He entered ministry was not wasted because He was undergoing development.

(Luke 2:52 NIV)  And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.

Preparation chapters in your life are not delays in your future success. Each chapter in our life has a benefit, if only you will look for them.

When Jesus entered His earthly ministry, He was fully prepared. He was not only prepared physically, He was prepared spiritually.

(Luke 3:21-22 NIV)  When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened {22} and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: "You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

(Luke 4:1 NIV)  Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert,

Jesus did not undertake His great task without preparation. Neither should we. Are you embarking on something great? If so, take the time to prepare. Remember, preparation time is not wasted time.

Take the first step

(Josh 3:15-17 NIV)  Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water's edge, {16} the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (the Salt Sea ) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. {17} The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

God did not part the waters of the Jordan River for the Israelites until they first put their feet in the waters. When we want God to act, we must also act. Do what we can and God will do the rest. Waiting on God is not equivalent to inactivity.

Genesis 12:1­4 (NIV) The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you.

Abraham did not have a complete picture when God called him towards his destiny. He was just called to go to “the land I will show you.” Many of us are hesitant to move unless we have the full picture. But not Abraham.

(Heb 11:8 NIV)  By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

It was only later that Abraham knew the land he was to go was Canaan.

(Gen 12:5 NIV)  He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.

As we move in obedience to each step of God’s direction, He will show us the next step.

Perseverance

But you, Timothy, belong to God; so run from all these evil things, and follow what is right and good. Pursue a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. (1 Tim 6:11, Living Bible)

Nehemiah wanted to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. Although he was faced with opposition, both from without and from within, Nehemiah perseveres until the project is complete and the city resettled. Seemingly impossible tasks can be accomplished when one perseveres to the end

Nehemiah met with opposition from outside.

(Neh 4:1-2 NIV)  When Sanballat (the governor of Samaria) heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, {2} and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, "What are those feeble Jews doing? Will they restore their wall? Will they offer sacrifices? Will they finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble--burned as they are?"

Not only that, there were complaints from within his own people.

(Neh 4:10-11 NIV)  Meanwhile, the people in Judah said, "The strength of the laborers is giving out, and there is so much rubble that we cannot rebuild the wall." {11} Also our enemies said, "Before they know it or see us, we will be right there among them and will kill them and put an end to the work."

Despite all the opposition, the wall was finally completed.

(Neh 6:15-16 NIV)  So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. {16} When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.

Application: Is there something you are trying to achieve but are losing endurance?

The apostle Paul met with tremendous obstacles when he tried to preach the good news of Jesus Christ. We could look back at his success today because he never gave up. He continued to press on despite the difficulties.

(Phil 3:13-14 NIV)  Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, {14} I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Patience

(1 Sam 13:8-13 NIV)  He waited seven days, the time set by Samuel; but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul's men began to scatter. {9} So he said, "Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings. " And Saul offered up the burnt offering. {10} Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him. {11} "What have you done?" asked Samuel. Saul replied, "When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Micmash, {12} I thought, 'Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the Lord's favor.' So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering." {13} "You acted foolishly," Samuel said. "You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time.

Saul was impatient with God’s timing. He knew he had to wait for God’s prophet to offer the sacrifices. Yet he chose not to wait.

God’s timing is different from our timing. We want everything now. God promises us that he will lift us up and give us success and honor in due time.

(1 Pet 5:6 NIV)  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

(Psa 37:7 NIV)  Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when men succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.

Hard work

(Prov 10:4 NIV)  Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands bring wealth.

Hard work is absolutely essential for success. The world is always looking for instant ways to do things, to achieve something. But there are no shortcuts to success. Hard work is the only way.

Application: Think about the goals you have written. Do you think you have put in enough effort? Which area needs more effort?


Application: Think about an incident in the past when you have failed because you failed to put in enough effort. Write that down.


Set the right priorities in work

(Acts 6:2-3 NIV)  So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, "It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. {3} Brothers, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them

Peter was not suggesting that it was not important to serve others. Rather it taught that that should be the work of deacons. The apostles should instead focus on the ministry of the word of God.

Peter knew what the right priorities were for his position. We can be busy with many things but if we don’t prioritize properly, we can be doing a lot but not accomplishing much.

Be connected to the right people

(Neh 2:1-8 NIV)  In the month of Nisan in the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes, when wine was brought for him, I took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before; {2} so the king asked me, "Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart." I was very much afraid, {3} but I said to the king, "May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?" {4} The king said to me, "What is it you want?" Then I prayed to the God of heaven, {5} and I answered the king, "If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it." {6} Then the king, with the queen sitting beside him, asked me, "How long will your journey take, and when will you get back?" It pleased the king to send me; so I set a time. {7} I also said to him, "If it pleases the king, may I have letters to the governors of Trans-Euphrates, so that they will provide me safe-conduct until I arrive in Judah? {8} And may I have a letter to Asaph, keeper of the king's forest, so he will give me timber to make beams for the gates of the citadel by the temple and for the city wall and for the residence I will occupy?" And because the gracious hand of my God was upon me, the king granted my requests.

Nehemiah could do so much because God helped him to be connected to the right person. The king gave him letters to the governors so that he could have a safe journey. He even received timber from the king to build the city walls.

Who is the person you need to be connected to in order to get your task done? Ask God to grant you favor to be connected to that person.

Listening to advice

Proverbs 19:20 (NIV) Listen to advice and accept instruction, and in the end you will be wise.

Many people are afraid of receiving criticisms or comments from others. They feel embarrassed. But the Bible gives us valuable instruction when it comes to taking advice or criticisms. We should look at criticisms as a way to improve oneself.

But what about criticisms that are unfounded and not based on facts? We can treat criticisms from others in this way. If the criticism is unfounded, just ignore them because he is talking nonsense. There is no need to get angry.

If the criticism is founded, let’s receive it with joy because we have found out how we can improve on ourselves.

I saw a slogan that says, “Treat criticisms from customers as a gift.” When a customer criticizes your product, he is telling you how to improve it and not charging you for consultation.

Application: Are you the type of person who does not like to receive criticism or comments from others? Have you been benefited before by comments made by others?

Application: Think about an incident when someone criticised you and you got angry. Could you have benefited from his criticism?

Learn from mistakes/recover from downfall

King David was one man who had made a terrible mistake in his life. He committed adultery and even murder. God pronounced judgment on him, which led to the death of his son.

But David did not dwell on his failures. He recognized them and moved on after he had learnt from them.

(2 Sam 12:16-24 NIV)  David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. {17} The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. {18} On the seventh day the child died. David's servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, "While the child was still living, we spoke to David but he would not listen to us. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate." {19} David noticed that his servants were whispering among themselves and he realized the child was dead. "Is the child dead?" he asked. "Yes," they replied, "he is dead." {20} Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the LORD and worshiped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate. {21} His servants asked him, "Why are you acting this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!" {22} He answered, "While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, 'Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let the child live.' {23} But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me." {24} Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and lay with her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The LORD loved him;

Paul was also one person who always recovered from downfall. Even though there were severe persecutions to his ministry, and he was almost destroyed many times, he never failed to get up again.

2 cor 4:8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 4:9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

Paul made a lot of mistakes in the past but he learnt to put his mistakes behind him. He wanted to forget what lies behind him so that he can press on to what lies ahead.

phil 3:13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Obedience to God

(Gen 39:2-3 NIV)  The LORD was with Joseph and he prospered, and he lived in the house of his Egyptian master. {3} When his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD gave him success in everything he did,

(1 Sam 18:13-14 NIV)  So he sent David away from him and gave him command over a thousand men, and David led the troops in their campaigns. {14} In everything he did he had great success, because the LORD was with him.

(1 Chr 22:13 NIV)  Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.

Humility

(Prov 16:18 NIV)  Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.

(Mat 23:12 NIV)  For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

(1 Pet 5:6 NIV)  Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

Generosity

Deut 15.10 Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.

Seeking guidance from God

(2 Samuel 2:1 NIV) In the course of time, David inquired of the LORD. "Shall I go up to one of the towns of Judah?" he asked. The LORD said, "Go up." David asked, "Where shall I go?" "To Hebron," the LORD answered.

Even though David was the supreme leader in Israel, he did not proceed with any major task without first consulting the Lord. This we know is the most important factor in David's success. The Bible elsewhere teaches that if we sought the Lord, He will surely give us success in whatever we do. This was said of King Uzziah.

(2 Chronicles 26:5 NIV) He sought God during the days of Zechariah, who instructed him in the fear of God. As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success.

Commit your work to God

(Prov 16:3 NIV)  Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.

Abraham offered his son to God and as a result God granted him many sons. If we want success, we must be willing to commit it to the Lord. If we are unwilling to do so, God is not number one in our lives.

For example, if you want God to bless you in your job, you must be willing to give up that job if God asked you to. It does not mean that God will definitely take that job away from you. Remember, God did not take away Isaac from Abraham.

(Gen 22:12 NIV)  "Do not lay a hand on the boy," he said. "Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son."

Because Abraham demonstrated that God had the highest place in his life, God blessed him immeasurably more.

(Gen 22:17 NIV)  I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,

Likewise Hannah prayed for a son and God granted her that request because she was willing to dedicate that son back to God.

1 Sam 1:11 And she made this vow: "O Lord Almighty, if you will look down upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut."

Be in a place where you are valued

Jesus was unable to do miracles in certain cities because the people doubted in Him.

(Mat 13:58 NIV)  And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.

Doubt is an obstacle that will hinder your achievements. That is why Jesus instructed His disciples to go where they are celebrated, not where they are tolerated.

(Mat 10:14 NIV)  If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.

Are you in a place where you are not valued? Pray to God for guidance whether it is His will for you to be there. If not, it may be time to move on to another place where you are valued. It is the Lord’s will that His children have a valued position.

(Deu 28:13 NIV)  The LORD will make you the head, not the tail. If you pay attention to the commands of the LORD your God that I give you this day and carefully follow them, you will always be at the top, never at the bottom.

Confidence/Optimism

We need confidence to succeed in life. A Christian can draw confidence from God’s promises in the Bible.

(Phil 4:13 NIV)  I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

(Psa 27:1-3 NIV)  The LORD is my light and my salvation-- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life-- of whom shall I be afraid? {2} When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. {3} Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.

Another way to gain confidence is to have a proper perspective of oneself. A person who does not have confidence is usually one who focuses on his failures in life. If we remember our successes, we can also be confident.

We can learn from the example of David. He had confidence to defeat the giant Goliath because he remembered his previous successes.

(1 Sam 17:33-36 NIV)  Saul replied, "You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth." {34} But David said to Saul, "Your servant has been keeping his father's sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock, {35} I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it. {36} Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.

Remember to rest

(Exo 20:8-11 NIV)  "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. {9} Six days you shall labor and do all your work, {10} but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. {11} For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Why is rest so important? Because the God who created us knows that we can only function effectively if we have enough rest. If we don’t rest, we may do well for a short time but will definitely burn out after a while.

Jesus accomplished much within a short span of 3 ½ years because He knew the importance of rest.

(Mark 6:31-32 NIV)  Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." {32} So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.

Turn obstacles into opportunities

Acts 11:19,20  Meanwhile, the believers who had fled from Jerusalem during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. ….. some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to Gentiles about the Lord Jesus. 21The power of the Lord was upon them, and large numbers of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.

When the believers were fleeing from persecution, they probably thought that their evangelistic efforts were finished. That was probably what the devil thought as well. Satan thought he was winning. But God had other things in mind. God could use this "bad" situation for His purpose. When the believers fled, the gospel spread even more as they brought their gospel with them.

One way to practice successful thinking is to always think of obstacles as opportunities. For example, we may be sick and unable to work for a prolonged time. Perhaps we can think of that as opportunities to quiet down and plan for the future.

Be willing to accept changes

Jesus was always changing locations.

(Mat 8:1 NIV)  When he came down from the mountainside…

(Mat 8:5 NIV)  When Jesus had entered Capernaum…

(Mat 8:14 NIV)  When Jesus came into Peter's house…

(Mat 8:23 NIV)  Then he got into the boat…

(Mat 8:28 NIV)  When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes...

Abraham had to make geographical changes before his success was birthed.

(Gen 12:1-2 NIV)  The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. {2} "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.

Joseph found his incredible success in another country, Egypt.

Ruth willingly left her family in Moab and went to Bethlehem with Naomi. There she met Boaz, a wealthy man, and married him.

Sometimes you have to go somewhere you have never been before you taste the extraordinary success that you want to experience.

Counting the cost

(Luke 14:28-29 NIV)  "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? {29} For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him,

Many people fail in projects because they just did not have enough resources to undertake that project in the first place. Jesus gave us good advice about counting the cost before we embark on a task. This can prevent many failures.

Getting rid of bad habits

(John 15:1-2 NIV)  "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. {2} He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.

Pruning is required if we want to have a successful lifestyle.

Pruning is the removal of parts of plants, usually branches or branch tips, to relieve the burden on the remaining parts of the plant, to cut out diseased or broken parts, to increase the quantity and quality of flowers or fruits.

When we want to have a successful lifestyle, we must prune or cut off parts of our lifestyle or character that saps away our attention or energy that can be better channelled to more productive areas.

For example, we may be addicted to a certain hobby that takes away so much of our time and energy that we do not have time to do what is more important.

Paul also speaks of the importance of laying aside all our hindrances so that we can run the race of life more effectively.

(Heb 12:1 NIV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Developing good habits

It is not enough to get rid of bad habits when we want to succeed, we have to develop good ones.

(Luke 4:16 NIV)  He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read.

Jesus was also a man of habits. He had the habit of going to the synagogue. His disciples also had the habit of meeting regularly for fellowship.

(Acts 20:7 NIV)  On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.

Jesus also had the habit of prayer.

(Mat 14:23 NIV)  After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone,

(Mat 26:36 NIV)  Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."

Other men of the Bible also developed good habits of prayer and praise.

(Dan 6:10 NIV)  Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

(Psa 119:164 NIV)  Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.

Have you develop the good habits that will enable you to succeed? Do you have a habit of spending time alone with God daily? Do you have a habit of constantly reading and learning? Do you have a habit of exercising regularly?