January is the month when many set goals or resolutions. By February, they say 86% of us have forgotten what those goals were! Maybe that’s because we aren’t following the right plan. Here are 3 ingredients in God’s recipe for a successful year.
There are 2,300 books on Amazon teaching about success, maybe one of them would work for you? The self-help industry is a huge success in itself. According to Wikipedia, the self-improvement industry yielded a whopping $9 billion in 2006. In 2012, one writer touted over $12 billion in sales in the US alone. With all that money pouring in, you would think there would be more than just 14% of us who succeed at goals, wouldn’t you?
Where do you go for your expertise? How about Jesus? This man was one incredible achiever. His success is reflected by one of His titles, Mighty God, or the Strength of God. He accomplished a lot in only 3 years of ministry. In John 21, we learn that if they wrote down everything Jesus did in those years, that whole world wouldn’t be able to contain all the books that would be written. If they could have quantified Jesus’ teaching, it would probably have topped even our incredible self-help industry.
Jesus felt an urgency to work hard and achieve. “As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work” (John 9:4).
There were over 700 goals (or prophecies) written down for Jesus to accomplish in the Old Testament. He achieved every single one, down to the last detail. Some have tried to calculate the odds against one person fulfilling all those prophecies. In 1958, Dr. Peter Stoner calculated the odds of Jesus fulfilling just 48 of those prophecies to be 1 in 10 to the 157th power.
So, rather than turn to Amazon to find the latest self-help book, let’s turn to the Good Book and focus on just three things we can do to have a successful year.
Having a teachable spirit is surely the first step in learning how to be successful according to God’s recipe. If He is an expert, we need to spend time learning from Him. Many times in the Bible, God asks us to seek Him, to learn from Him, and that His word is profitable to us. Here are some examples:
- “Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night” (Psalm 1:1-2)
- “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17).
- “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (John 15:7).
- “Everyone who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built” (Luke 6:47-48).
So, first of all, humbly seek God’s direction in your goals for this year. Once your goals are set, pray them daily. Write them down, and evaluate them every week. Be willing to tweak them if God is leading you to do so.
God is the only true Creator. He imagined the entire universe and everything in it. Then He spoke words to bring His universe into being. Irwin McManus wrote, “The source material for the entire universe is the imagination of God.”
While we cannot speak material things into being, God did give us the ability to creatively imagine and then use His raw materials to bring our ideas into fruition. We alone of all animals are able to imagine and create in this way.
We can also imagine outcomes to be negative, as when we imagine we will fail. God allows us to use this imagination according to our free will. Make sure you don’t sabotage your own success by imagining failure. Children are so much more optimistic about themselves than adults are. Think like a creative child when setting goals. McManus writes, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
Don’t grow up too soon, or at all if you can avoid it!
Finally, do not fear. This is one of God’s favorite motivational messages. He admonishes us to not fear 18 times in the Bible. One of the things many people fear is discipline. There are some personalities who love discipline, but many of us (me included) fight it.
But experts agree, discipline is a learned skill that’s essential for success in every area of life. Yet most of us do nothing to strengthen our own discipline. We tend to think “that’s the way I was born,” and passively reach for another cookie or plop in a chair with the TV remote. We feel victimized by our own laziness.
McManus wrote, “It’s hard to tell a great story if we remain stuck in chapter 1.” And Proverbs 15:32 tells us if we neglect discipline, we despise ourselves.
I’m inspired by God’s encouragement for self-discipline in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
Inspiration for a Successful Year
This post is my first since July 2016. I took a hiatus while finishing my book and launching it. I’m inspired to get started again by blogging once a month, and guest blogging more often. I’ve spent time humbly asking God for direction, imaginatively developing a new plan for my posts, and courageously disciplining myself by joining an accountability group.
I need peeps to keep me on my toes!
God has a lot to say about living a successful life, learn humbly from the Expert. If you are interested in learning more about God’s amazing personality, read my book, Making Peace with Prickly People. Some other books I have been inspired by include
McManus, who wrote the Artisan Soul, writes, “While there has never been an ordinary child born on this earth, the undeniable tragedy is that most of us die after having lived painfully ordinary lives.”
…because U count, deb