What is success? How do you define it? What are the essentials of success? And how do you know when you’ve achieved success?
Google “success” and you will incredibly get 5,440,000,000 hits in .48 seconds. Go to Amazon and you find there are over 90,000 books written about success. All of these sources are filled with formulas, fundamentals and principles for achieving success in a given area of life.
The world’s standard often measures success on the basis of prosperity, performance, possessions, position, or power. God, however, not only gives His definition of success, but the means by which we can achieve it.
When Moses died, Joshua was designated to become the leader of Israel and assigned the task of conquering Canaan. God issued this stirring and inspiring exhortation to encourage and direct Joshua.
“Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:6-9, ESV)
John Wooden, the remarkably successful basketball coach at UCLA during its dynasty years, was once asked his secret in producing stellar teams. His answer: “We master the basics. We drill over and over again on the fundamentals.” Here are God’s five fundamentals for spiritual success and prosperity.
1. Be Strong.
Joshua needed strength to survive the various struggles he would encounter in conquering the land. But this was more than physical prowess. He needed emotional, mental and spiritual strength.
Our strength to face today’s challenges, temptations and even crises, is not found in human sources, but in divine power. The Bible urges Christians to “be strong in the Lord” (Eph 6:10).
The words of our 30th President Calvin Coolidge have never been more appropriate: “We do not need more national development, we need more spiritual development. We do not need more intellectual power, we need more spiritual power. We do not need more knowledge, we need more character. We do not need more law, we need more religion. We do not need more of the things that are seen, we need more of the things that are unseen.”
2. Be Courageous
God connects strength with courage. Courage is moral excellence. It’s the virtue to do what you know you ought to do. God can supply the strength but in the words of Edgar Guest, “courage must come from the soul within; man must furnish the will to win.”
“Courage,” wrote Henry Van Dyke, “is the standing army of the soul that keeps it from conquest, pillage and slavery.”
We need courage to stay morally strong in a world gone mad with lust and license. Pastors need courage to shepherd God’s sheep, to tend to their spiritual needs and chase the wolf away. Preachers need courage to proclaim the “whole counsel of God.” Parents need courage to say “no” to influences that will hurt and harm their children. All of us need courage to rely on faith in times of crisis instead of being controlled by our fears
3. Stay Focused
“Turn not to the right hand or the left that you may have good success,” God exhorted Joshua. That means keep your eye on the goal. Stay the course. Take aim.
That is one fundamental feature that’s characteristic of successful people in every endeavor. Sports. Business. Education. All require unwavering focus. It’s true in a successful family. Of saving for retirement. Even in losing weight.
To be successful Stephen Covey counseled, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”
What’s your focus? Is it spiritual? Godward? Heavenly?
The apostle Paul’s focus is worthy of our emulation. “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).
4. Meditate on the Word.
Even with the many responsibilities and varied distractions Joshua faced, he was counseled to slow down and take time to meditate on God’s Word.
To meditate on the Word goes beyond just reading it. It means to think. To reflect. To consider. To ponder. To muse. To ruminate. To contemplate.
Read Psalm 119. It will not only give you insight into meditation, but help you to seriously meditate.
5. Do God’s Will.
If Joshua was to be a success in God’s eyes, he must obey. That fundamental hasn’t changed in 3400 years.
You might be a success financially but a failure spiritually. You might enjoy success in the classroom, on the athletic field, or in business, but be a flop in the eyes of the Lord.
In Moses’ final words of admonition to Israel recorded in Deuteronomy he commanded them to obey God no less than 21 times. Likewise, both Jesus and the inspired apostle often urge us “obey the Truth.”
Finally, there are two things God said not to do: Don’t be afraid. And don’t be discouraged.
Let’s return to the fundamentals of our faith. Then our way will be “prosperous” and we will enjoy “good success.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman