To Okonkwo, a character in the novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, an indication of physical success means being the best wrestler in his village; and economic success means attaining a bountiful crop of yams. William Shakespeare through Uncle Polonius offered Hamlet some advice for success before he went off to college: “Neither a lender nor a borrower be,” and “To thine own self be true.”
These two books have been staples of the high school English literature curriculum for several years. Through these two very worthy pieces of literature, teachers across the nation inculcate values of success into the impressionable minds of youth. Neither one of these darlings of literature go far enough, however.
Those of us who are students of the best book on earth, the Bible, have access to the best definition of success as found in Psalms 1: 3. For me, this verse delineates what if means to be successful in the true sense of the word. The blessed man or woman, which I interpret as the successful man or woman, “is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do will prosper.”
If we parse this verse, we can identify four key components for success.
Position. To be successful means you are firmly connected to the source of all life, hope, goodness, and spirituality. In addition, you do everything within your power to ensure the connection is never broken by maintaining an open line of communication with the Savior of your soul. His word dwells in you, and your words acknowledge that He is. Establishing and maintaining the God-connection is the sure foundation for all success.
Action: Successful people “yield fruit.” You are productive, studying and practicing a skill or a craft on a daily basis. You pull yourself away from the clutter of life. This could also mean schooling, reading, and practicing. This is how your mediocre becomes good, and your good becomes great. At the appropriate time, you as well as others will see the fruit of your labor. When preparation and opportunity intersect, success is guaranteed.
Stamina: Success does not happen overnight. It takes time. But the successful person remains optimistic. You envision your hopes, and operate as though it is a given. Waiting for success is work and that’s where the stamina comes in. You don’t grow faint because the journey is long and hard. You have taken the appropriate steps to insure your “leaf does not wither.” You have all the resources necessary for the long haul.
Prosperity. Victory is sure. “Whatever you do will prosper.” Even a setback is a set up for a comeback, according to my Pastor, because “All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28 NIV).
Success is a combination of position, attitude, and action. Find out what it is that God has called you to do. Arm yourself with the tools (spiritual and secular) to equip yourself for the journey and plug away. In Christ, we are groomed for success.
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