2 Timeless Must-have Principles That Set You Up for Success

I am reading through Ecclesiastes for my morning devotions, and I came across two verses, which form a recipe for success.

Ecclesiastes 11:4,6

“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”

Photo by stephen momot on Unsplash

The two timeless principles for your success are as follows: Success does not come from an opportunity, so don’t wait for it and have more than one line in the water.

Let’s unpack these two timeless principles below.

Success does not come from an opportunity, so don’t wait for it.

When we hear about stories where a person made the best of the opportunity they came across, our most common reaction is how lucky they are. Unfortunately, we fail to remember that the person who used that opportunity was prepared to take advantage of that opportunity.

Basketball legend John Wooden rightly asserts that “When opportunity comes, it is too late to prepare.” The time to get started on your goals is now. There is no better day than today. You have a decision to make today, an opportunity to make a choice; how do you want the rest of your life to be? What you do today will determine your tomorrow.

Benjamin Franklin understood what Solomon says in verse 4. He says, “Only today is worth two tomorrows; what I am to be, I am now becoming.” Are you waiting for a big break in your life? Are you waiting for an opportunity to fall on your lap? What preparations have you made to accomplish your goals?

Take Initiative

The word initiative is defined as the ability to assess and initiate (do things) things independently. You act instead of reacting in life. There will always be a reason to postpone what you need to do. Are you looking for that reason? Solomon talks about the wind and the clouds that put off a person from planting and harvesting. These verses may be written as a person looking at the economy and the uncertainty in the market and delaying starting a business in today’s terms.

Taking the initiative also means you are not saying “this is not my job” because you may be missing out on an opportunity every time you say that. Your fresh set of eyes in that situation may be what is needed to solve a problem that they have. If you stayed away, you have lost a chance to spot and take advantage of an opportunity.

 “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

There is no reaping without sowing. So, if you want to reap the reward, you need to have done the preparation and the work.

Have more than one line in the water

Having more than one line in the water is a fishing analogy where you have multiple lines to increase the probability of you catching a fish.

at the evening let your hands not be idle

After you have done a full day’s work, Solomon’s advice is not to put your feet up and take a rest or watch TV till you fall asleep. Instead, he recommends taking on another skill either to learn one or practice one. Starting a side hustle is a biblical principle. What are you interested in learning? What have you been keen on trying recently? There are numerous examples of businesses that started as a side hustle and became their mainstream income.

In 2009 Kevin Systrom was working at Nextstop.com as a product manager. When he was not working, he taught himself to code. He eventually built an app called Burbn, which was a mobile check-in app with pictures. He found out that people were very much interested in sharing photos with friends. So, in 2010, he quit his day job, raised capital, and started an app called Instagram. Eventually, his company was purchased by Facebook for over a Billion dollars.

Do you see the two principles in action here? First, Kevin was having a second line in the water while still doing his first job. Second, he had to learn new skills for him to have a second line. Kevin did not do more of the same thing (being a project manager), but he acquired adjacent skills in the same field and put it to use.

for you do not know which will succeed

For every successful side hustle story, there will be at least another 100 that did not make it. Solomon is very practical about it. He is not guaranteeing you success. In fact, he says, “you do not know” Sometimes, you may have to pivot and refine your idea, while other times, you will have to scratch the whole plan and start again. In the above example, did you notice that Kevin began with an app called Burbn but then, identifying a new demand, had to pivot and rename his app to meet that demand?

Whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.

Sometimes one or the other while other times, both will do well. Since you can’t predict the future, no one can, it is wise to pick up new skills that add to our expertise. Do not wait for an opportunity; it may never come. Instead, volunteer yourself to learn new things and create opportunities for yourself. The time to do it to now. There is no better opportunity than today. Put into action these two principles and see how it changes your life.

I will leave you with the principles again,

Ecclesiastes 11:4,6

“Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.

Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well.”

Your Life’s Journey From Egypt to Canaan

Let’s track the life of Caleb on his journey from Egypt to Canaan and learn the three stages of your journey to success. The life in Egypt, the life in the desert of Paran, and the life beyond the Jordan River.

Photo by Ravi Pinisetti on Unsplash

Life in Egypt

Growing up, Caleb would have heard about Joseph and his contribution to the Egyptian kingdom and how his ancestors lived and were respected. He would have heard about Moses, how the princess of Egypt raised him as a prince in the palace, how Moses killed an Egyptian to protect an Israelite, and how he had to run away from the king of Egypt. Finally, Caleb would have heard stories about his great grandfather Jacob who came to live his final days in Egypt. Jacob’s life and his success would have been stories that grandparents shared with their grandchildren.

Abraham would have been another source of inspiration for Caleb. He would have heard about how God promised to make his descendants a nation, and the promise of the land of Canaan would have been part of the stories that Caleb would have heard. Unfortunately, all these things were in the past. Caleb’s current situation did not reflect any of the stories that he had heard. The promise seemed nowhere near to be true. Caleb would have longed for the promise to come true, but most of the details remained unknown to him. He had no idea how he would inherit the land promised to Abraham, but he was determined to do what was required.

Caleb realized that Egypt was not the promised land, but they had food to eat and a place to stay. The work was horrible, to say the least, but it provided for their basic needs at the minimum.

Over generations, many of the people of Israel had to come to accept their situation as a reality. They thought that this is how life is, their destiny, or it was not meant to be. There is no way to get ahead; the system is stacked against them. So some started to think that the idea of a promised land may not have been a promise after all but only a dream.

Your previous or current situation could be this way. Either you were in Egypt, or you are in an Egypt-like situation right now. Where you were born or what you are doing in terms of work seems like you are slaves, working for a minimum wage, and there is no real future for you. You may be debating if this is all life has to offer. But, if it was in the past, you remember exactly how you felt trying to make ends meet working a minimum wage and the feeling of hopelessness about life in general.

The people of Israel had to leave Egypt and cross the Red sea to move on to their next stage in life. How about you? Are you ready to make the journey? Nobody said it is going to be easy. Israelites had their own list of challenges to overcome, and so do you. Nevertheless, you need to leave Egypt to get to the next stage. It is out there and not where you currently are.

The Desert of Paran

This is the second stage of life in Caleb’s journey to success; life was better than in Egypt. He is not a slave anymore. All his needs are met. The trip to the promised land has begun. The dreadful life in Egypt is now starting to become a thing of the past. The Israelites thought from now on everything will be ‘rainbows and ponies, and so they were disappointed whenever they faced any obstacle.

How many times have we felt the same way? Finally, we overcome some obstacles and start to think it will be smooth sailing from here on out, only blue skies and wind in our sails, but we soon become disappointed when the wind blows against us.

The people of Israel press on, but they are a tough crowd. The turning of the bitter water in Marah, the manna from heaven, satisfies them only for a moment. How many times are we the same way? The miracles of life don’t seem to impress us anymore. When a challenge comes, we throw our hands up in the air and say, why this? Why me? And why now?

Israel and Caleb have gotten used to this routine now. They know where their next meal is coming from. No evil taskmaster is breathing down their neck. They have learned new skills like finding food for their flocks in the desert and navigating rugged terrain. They also realize that their work is much better than the one they were doing in Egypt. Their stress and anxiety levels have come down as they don’t need to fear their lives or their children anymore.

The temptation for many of us is, should we now put our feet up and say, I have come this far in life. I have faced my share of challenges and have made tremendous progress. Look where I have come from; look at my beginnings. My achievements are proof that I have made it. So let me give myself a pat on the back and take the rest I deserve.

Almost all the Israelites did not want to go into the promised land. The land that they had longed to go to. The land they had dreamed about. Why? They did not want to face any more challenges. They wanted a smooth ride. From where they stood, there were no enemies around, no one chasing after them. The passion and the drive to move forward had left them. They were ready to give up but not Caleb; his mindset was different.

In the Promised land

The promised land is on the other side of the desert. You have seen evidence of it sometimes in your own lives or other times in the lives of others. There is a lot more to see and experience in the promised land than where you are now.

Caleb knew his inheritance was on the other side of Jordan, and he was ready to go and take it. Read Joshua 14: 10 – 12

10 “Now then, just as the Lord promised, he has kept me alive for forty-five years since the time he said this to Moses, while Israel moved about in the wilderness. So here I am today, eighty-five years old! 11 I am still as strong today as the day Moses sent me out; I’m just as vigorous to go out to battle now as I was then. 12 Now give me this hill country that the Lord promised me that day. You heard then that the Anakites were there and their cities were large and fortified, but, the Lord helping me, I will drive them out just as he said.”

Caleb is ready to take on the challenge ahead of him and stake a claim to his inheritance. Caleb asks and receives Hebron and the rest of his tribe (Judah) to acquire Hebron’s land. Caleb was able to carve out his own inheritance because he did not decide to settle on the outskirts of the promised land. Instead, he believed in the promise, and he worked to receive it.

Where are you in life today? Egypt? the desert? Or in the promised land?

The temptation is to settle for a portion on the outskirts of the promised land, but God’s purpose for you is to go and achieve more. Your goal should be to realize your full potential, everything that God has designed for you to succeed. Everything. If God had a list, then everything on his list. If God has a list of things you could accomplish, how many do you think you have completed? For example, on Moses’ list, God wanted Moses to redeem the people of Israel from slavery. What world problem do you think God wants you to solve?

Caleb demonstrates the mindset that you and I need to become the best we can be. By putting our trust in God and going after what he wants us to do with everything we have for His glory.

Two Key Aspects to a Mustard Seed Faith

There are two key aspects that we need to practice the mustard seed faith. First, let’s go to Mark 9:14 – 29 to see what they are.

Jesus and Peter, James and John are coming down from the mountain after the glorious transfiguration of Jesus. The 9 other disciples were at the foot of the mountain trying to chase a demon from a young boy.

Photo by Joshua Lanzarini on Unsplash

Jesus enquires why the heated discussion is taking place, and his immediate response reveals it is a matter of faith or rather a lack of it. In verse 19, Jesus says, “You unbelieving generation,” ….. How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me.”

Jesus reveals that the inability to heal the young boy was due to the people’s lack of faith, both the father and the disciples. What did they lack? Why were they not able to deliver the boy from the clutches of the devil? How could we bring deliverance in our lives and in the lives of others around us? What does mustard seed-like faith mean? Could we do it today?

The two key aspects that Jesus reveals in this incident demonstrate how a mustard seed-like faith may be deployed. Jesus divulges that by acknowledging that He is God and taking the necessary action, one can realize the power of God in their lives.

Let’s dive a little bit deeper and see how Jesus does these two things.

Jesus is God

The father of the young boy is desperate for deliverance. He had tried everything that he could do, and they have come to Jesus as their last hope. How is that today? How many times do you go to God as the last option? You have tried everything you could do in your own strength and exhausted every available opportunity you could access, and then you think about Jesus when all your hope is gone.

In verse 22, the father says, “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” The father’s hopelessness is revealed in this statement. He does not realize what Jesus can do for his son. First, he is disappointed that the disciples could not heal his son, and now, his doubts are even louder in his mind. He must have thought that his family is cursed, and all the worse rumors that he had heard from his neighbors and the community are accurate. His family is cursed for some great sin that they had committed.

How often have we felt the same way? Desperate to know why we have to undergo this situation and if there will be any deliverance.

Jesus corrects the father immediately and reveals the first fundamental principle. In verse 23, Jesus says, “‘If you can’?”, “Everything is possible for one who believes.” It is not about if Jesus can do anything in this situation, It is about you. Do you believe that Jesus can do it for you? Jesus says that we need to be confident that God is all-powerful and nothing is impossible for Him.

Trust in God’s ability is the first step that one needs to demonstrate mustard seed faith. Peter and John do that in the temple to the lame man. They said, “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” The name of Jesus is capable of doing all things because Jesus is God.

Take Action

After the healing, Jesus and his disciples are alone in the house, and the disciples want some feedback from Jesus. First, they wanted to know why they could not perform the miracle for the young boy.

Here Jesus reveals the following principle in mustard seed faith. In verse 29, He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” In some manuscripts, you read “only by fasting and prayer.” So it is that one needs to take action to demonstrate the faith they claim to have. One cannot sit still and expect that everything will fall in place just because they have prayed.

The lame man in the case of Peter and John had to rise up on his feet to see if he was healed, he had to jump for joy and claim that he was lame, but now he is healed in Jesus’ name.

When Jesus said that “Everything is possible for one who believes.”  He meant that one need not look for outward evidence of the miracle that one is seeking. Instead, we need to go about our work believing that we already possess the solution that we seek, and it will be revealed to us in due time.

Paul defines faith succinctly in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Even though you have not seen the evidence for it, you know it will come to pass as you know that you depend on the omnipotent God to give it to you.

Our Response

How should we respond to this? The father of the boy had the perfect response. He was candid about how he felt and did not seek to hide his thoughts. In verse 24, we read, Immediately, the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Overcoming our unbelief is not going to be easy. We have been educated to keep our rational mind sharp, but to implement the mustard-seed faith, we need to think like a child and hope like one. Even though we don’t see any evidence of it, we should bring ourselves to know that it will come to pass at the appointed time.

When a farmer plants the seeds, he does not have any evidence that shows that he will have a bountiful harvest, but the farmer believes that he will have one. He waters the ground, knowing that the seed will sprout any day and grow and yield a plentiful harvest. Why should we think any differently? What are you seeking from God today? As you go about your day today, praise Him for granting your request. He is willing and able to do for you more than you can imagine.

All glory be to God!

How to Overcome Fear and Doubt?

We will follow the people of Israel to learn how when we allow fear and doubt to control us, we lose opportunities that are there for our taking.

The people of Israel are marching to their promised land. They have left Egypt and have witnessed numerous miracles along their way. Israelites have enough evidence to know that God is with them and Leads them in this undertaking. The people can see that God’s promise to Abraham is coming true, the promise to make them a great nation and inherit a land flowing with milk and honey.

Photo by Zach Reiner on Unsplash

God had evidenced his desire to fulfill the promise that he had given to Abraham’s descendants by parting the Red sea, feeding them with Manna, and symbolizing his presence in the form of a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

For Israelites, the evidence that they need to draw their strength upon is all around them. They now have a task to prepare to inherit the land that God had promised Abraham, their forefather. They pick one person from each tribe to complete the task of spying on the land they will inherit.

The 12 spies are tried and true leaders in each tribe (Numbers 13:3 All of them were leaders of the Israelites.). They were not ordinary men; they have shown advanced leadership skills among their tribes. Others depended on their guidance and vision, their ability to lead. The spies had gained the trust of their people and had influence among their people.

Even though each of the spies had the similar qualification and were capable men, their outlook in life became evident when they came back and started to recount their experience.

A Strong Mindset

Numbers 13:30, Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”

Here we see Caleb and how he interpreted the experience that he had in Canaan. First, he had a positive outlook. Second, he was aware of the challenges, but he was willing to face and overcome them.

In Numbers 14: 7 – 9, we see how they thought about the challenge before them, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good.V.8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. V.9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. So do not be afraid of them.”

Caleb is filled with hope for the future. He is willing to place everything in the hands of God. He realizes the judgment for the people living in Canaan has come and God’s grace is turned towards the people of Israel to follow God’s words and not rebel against Him.

Caleb acknowledges the sovereignty of God, but he is also willing to step out in faith and not back down from the challenge that is before him. Thus, we see faith overcoming fear and doubt.

A Negative Mindset

The 10 other spies shared a similar set of experiences like Caleb and saw the same challenges but arrived at the opposite conclusion.

Numbers 13:31- 33 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” V 32 They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. V 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”

Remember, these 10 men had similar qualifications, they were leaders, but they had a different approach to life. They were not willing to face the challenge before them with faith but rather with fear.

Numbers 14: 3,4 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” V4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”

Since they accepted the fear and doubt that existed, they were convinced that they would all die in the desert. Therefore, they went to the extent of craving for the life of slavery that they had just escaped.

When you take on a new challenge in life and start on a new path, everything will be fresh and uncertain. If you focus only on your strength and ability, you will end up feeling like the Israelites. You will devalue yourself; you will not remember any of the victories you had in your life, and you will feel all alone.

A narrow mind limits your vision, clouds your judgment, exaggerates your obstacles, and discounts God from your life. All you will then left with is a grasshopper-like opinion of yourself.

An adverse opinion usually has a more significant influence and effect on your life than a positive expectation. It was confirmed in the life of Israelites, and they readily listened to the negative mindset.

The Solution

The right medicine for fear and doubt is to put your faith in God. See the words that Caleb used v.9 “the Lord is with us,” V8 “He will lead us into the land” Do not be afraid of your circumstances and rebel against God. In Number 14:24, we see how God acknowledges Caleb’s mindset “But because my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly, I will bring him into the land he went to, and his descendants will inherit it.”

God acknowledges a strong mindset that depends on the faithfulness of God. Are you debating whether you should take the opportunity that is in front of you? Are you looking into yourself and coming short of what it would take to succeed? Here is a promise for you from Numbers 11: 23 “Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.” So, why are you waiting?

The Role of Prayer in Your Success

You have the best intention at heart, and you have worked hard, but now what. What’s next for a Christian is to leave everything in the hands of God. This is an additional step available to anyone who believes that God, who is all-powerful, is interested in your success.

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash

There are 10 effective ways that Jesus used in prayer when he was here on earth.

Let’s go through them and learn these principles for ourselves.

  1. Set aside a few minutes to be alone and quiet. Relax your body, mind, and spirit by turning the thoughts away from problems and fixing the mind on God.

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” Matthew 6:6

  • Talk to God simply and naturally, telling Him anything that is on your mind.

“Our Father in Heaven. . .” (Matthew 6:9-13)

  • Practice talking to God as you go about your day. Be reminded of God’s presence by closing your eyes for a moment or two and shutting out the world around you.

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16)

  • Affirm the fact that God is with you and helping you. Believe God’s promises to be already true in your life.

“Father, thank you for hearing me. You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here.” (John 11:41, 42)

  • Pray with the thought that your prayers reach out and surround your loved ones.

 “I pray for them.” John 17:9

 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” John 17: 20

  • Think positive, not negative, thoughts while praying.

“Truly, I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

  • Always state that you are willing to accept God’s will, whatever it may be.

“Yet not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:36-44)

  • In your prayer, simply put everything into God’s hands. You have done your best; leave the rest in the hands of God.

“Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46)

  • Say a prayer for the people who don’t like you or who have treated you poorly.

“But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44

  1. At least once a day, pray for this troubled world, the leaders of this world, and for lasting peace.

 I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people — for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” 1Timothy 2:1,2

“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Romans 13:1

Let Jesus’ example influence your prayer life.

What Does The Bible Say About Humility?

Being humble is one of the character traits that is demonstrated by the giants in the Bible. The stories that we read in the Bible show how humility served them in their daily lives and how their life represented the character of Jesus.

Jesus is the ultimate example of humility. In Philippians 2:8, we read, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

I would like to focus on the life of Moses and list 10 benefits that Bible says being humble brings to your life.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

God chose Moses to lead the people of Israel from Egypt to the promised land. Moses was raised as a price in Egypt. In Acts 7:22, we read, And Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds. But Moses refused to be identified as an Egyptian. In Hebrews 11:25, we read, By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.

Moses leads the people of Israel through the desert to the promised land when God had to say this about him in one instance. Numbers 12:3 says, Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth. God tells Moses is humble and demonstrates the character the best among all the men on the face of the planet. So why is that important? What advantage does it bring?

Let’s keep reading. V6 And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. God reveals the standard methods that he uses to communicate with his messengers. God either uses a vision or a dream, but God says that he prefers not to use those ways with Moses.

In verses 7 and 8, we read, Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. 8 With him, I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord.  God prefers to talk face to face with Moses and uses direct words with him. Why? Because Moses represented humility. The greatest honor one can have to be able to speak face to face with God.

The Bible continues to list 10 other benefits of demonstrating humility. Let’s see them below.

Humility allows for wisdom

Proverbs 11:2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with the humble is wisdom.

In an earlier blog, I wrote about wisdom and how it is essential for success. You can read it here. Wisdom helps you to make good decisions that will benefit you and your community.

The humble receive favor from God.

Proverbs 3:34, but to the humble, he gives favor.

God gives favor to those who are humble. Imagine receiving a favor from the master of the universe. What will such a favor look like? How will that impact your life?

Favor is an act of kindness that is beyond what is due or usual. With this definition how an act of kindness from God will look like in your life?

Favor is also defined as approval or support. Imagine having God’s approval and support in your life. God is supporting you to reach your goals. He approves the actions that you take to realize your vision. To have these in your life, all that you need is to humble yourself before Him.

The Humble receive grace

James 4:6 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” 

Grace is courteous goodwill extended to a person even though they may not have done anything to receive it.

The humble receive the salvation

Psalm 149:4 For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.

God takes pleasure in dealing with people who are humble in the things that they do.  Arrogance does not please God. Salvation is offered to people who are humble enough to accept that they need to be saved.

The humble are lifted up

Psalm 147:6 The Lord lifts up the humble;

You are lifted up from where you are to a plane that you did not imagine that you could ever reach and have access to opportunities that you never imagined as possible.

The Humble are looked after by God

Isaiah 66:2 But this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble

You have the incredible opportunity to be looked after by God when you show humility. You don’t need to worry about other men looking after you as you have God on your side.

The humble avoid disaster

1 kings 21:29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days;.”

Ahab avoided the disaster that was due because he chose to humble himself before God. Humility changes God’s timing. Are you headed down a path of arrogance? Follow Ahab’s footstep.

The humble are the greatest

Matthew 18:4 Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

A child depends on an adult for all their needs. God is our Father, and when we seek Him for our daily needs, we show humility, which sets us up to be the greatest in the kingdom of God.

Humility is rewarded

Proverbs 22:4 The reward for humility and fear of the Lord is riches and honor and life.

The reward that awaits humble people is riches, honor (being exalted), and abundant life.

The humble are led and taught by God

Psalm 25:9 He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.

God is your mentor when you live your life with humility.

Humility is an attractive quality in the life of a person who lives it. Psalm 138:6 says that God makes more beautiful (adorns) those who are humble. So what are you waiting for? The reasons for being humble are overwhelming. Let’s be humble before our God and fellow men.

What Is The Best Way To Handle Problems In Life

Challenges and setbacks are part of life, and there is no avoiding them. We cannot always run and hide, so how should we face them? Let’s go to a familiar passage in the bible, the crossing of the red sea, and see how Moses dealt with the problem that he and the people of Israel faced.

The crossing of the Red sea is recorded in Exodus chapter 14. The people of Israel were delivered miraculously from the hand of the Egyptians. They had come out of slavery after 430 years. The journey to the promised land has just begun. In verse 8, we read, “… they were marching out boldly.”

Photo by marina on Unsplash

Maybe you are starting out on a new journey, an innovative business opportunity, a new investment, or a new job. Your dream that you had waited for so long and worked so hard for has just started to materialize, and you are filled with joy and hope that things will only get better from here.

It has barely been a few days since they left Egypt. The Israelites witnessed the 10 plagues that fell on Egypt and how they were kept safe from all of them. They were the direct beneficiaries of the mighty deliverance that God had brought forth. Now they are following the directions of Mosses and walking through the wilderness to the land of their dreams. Israelites can also see the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire that is leading their way. Now, this is an additional sign that God is with them on this journey.

As they approach the Red sea, they look back and see the Egyptians coming. In a moment, their boldness is relaced with fear. In verse 10, we read, “… they were terrified.” The people had the right to be afraid. Egyptians are the group of people who dominated their lives for over 400 years are back again in their lives, and all the past emotions of fear start rushing back into their minds. Their old scripts in their minds start playing again.

On your new journey, you may face the same situation when you face a setback. All you past start rushing back to you, and you are filled with fear and doubt, and you are stressed and afraid. You start questioning everything and doubt every interaction that you have, no matter the intention. You begin to believe everyone is against you and are after your defeat.

The Israelites certainly did feel that way, and they go to Moses and see 4 things that he does that we can do today that will help you and me face the challenges that we are dealing with in our lives.

Moses remembers the past

In verse 13, he says, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and you will see the deliverance of the Lord.” How is Moses able to remain calm when facing the same army that the people of Israel are facing? If the Egyptians had their way that day, it would mean certain death for Moses. How does one remain calm when things are uncertain?

Moses remembers the past. He was the agent that God had used to provide deliverance for the people of Israel. Moses witnessed first-hand the mighty hand of God. And, he did well to remember it. What has God done for you in the past that you need to remember today? How has he delivered you? The fact that you are alive is a miracle. Gratitude is a powerful tool that you can use to calm yourself of the anxious feeling that arises within you.

Moses truly believed and was grateful for the deliverance that the people of Israel had received and leaned on that foundation helped him remain calm when a life-threatening situation arose.

Moses considered all the evidence

When we read verse 19, we see that the angel of the Lord and the pillar of cloud were still present among the people. Fear narrows our sight. What are you not seeing today? What have you not considered?

The Israelites failed to account for the Lord’s presence by their side – a pillar of fire. How can you miss a fiery cloud? How can you not see it? It is right there in front of you. It definitely is a supernatural phenomenon, and one can miss a magnificent miracle when you allow fear to cloud your judgment.

Moses took the next step

Moses followed the instruction from God. In verse 15, we read, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on.” God’s instruction is to take your next step. Keep moving forward is your command from your Lord. God is telling us to be willing to do what needs to be done. The goal that you want to reach will not happen by chance. No one is going to hand it to you. You need to do it for yourself.

If Israelites wanted deliverance, it would not come to them on this side of the Red sea but rather on the other side. How about you? Which sea do you need to cross today? The Israelites were standing on the wrong side of the sea and complaining, and God’s answer to them is the same to you “move forward.” Put aside your fear and focus on your next step.

Moses was willing to do what it takes

In verse 20, we read “throughout the night,” and in verse 24, we read “the last watch of the night. The people of Israel’s victory they longed for came about during daybreak, but that happened because they had worked through the night.

Do you realize that nearly half of any day is dark, and every day starts with darkness until the sun comes out and everything becomes clear? Facing your challenges will seem like a moonless night but keep on; the daybreak is near. What do you need to do in the darkness of your situation today?

When we allow fear to dominate our thoughts, we will fall into a negative spiral like the people of Israel. Exodus 14:11, 12 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

Reread those verses. Look at those questions. It was less than a week since they had witnessed the glorious deliverance. No blood was shed, no Israel’s life was lost. They had received generous gifts when they left Egypt, but Israelites forgot everything when they walked into the negative spiral.

On the other hand, Moses remembered the past, considered all the evidence, took the next step, and did what he needed to do to deliver himself and the people of Israel from the hand of the Egyptians. You can overcome your problems the same way Moses did. You may not be delivering a nation, but that does not mean the crisis you face is insignificant in the eyes of the Lord. He is by your side; take the next step and see what He has in store for you.

4 Emotions that negatively affect your success mindset

How we think affects the way we feel, which in turn affects the way we think. It is a vicious cycle. Our primary thoughts are derived from our past experiences, and they determine how we see the world today. In our minds, we have created a framework that we constantly use to evaluate the life around us. Recognizing the emotions associated with our primary thoughts will take us a step closer to dealing with them as we embrace the success mindset.

Photo by Lê Tân on Unsplash

The Oxford dictionary defines emotions as follows, “a natural instinctive state of mind deriving from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationships with others.” It goes on to explain the ‘instinctive state’ like this, instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.” The definition reveals to us that we are both rational and emotional beings.

3 popular theories seek to determine the primary and secondary emotions that we have. One says there are 4 basic emotions and another 6, yet another the Plutchik’s wheel of emotions accounts for 8 basic emotions. According to this theory, anger, disgust, sadness, fear, joy, trust, surprise, and anticipation are the 8-basic emotion.

I have listed the negative ones at the start as they are the focus of this article. Don’t get me wrong, these emotions have a valuable role to play in our lives, and they become negative only when we dwell on them long enough for these emotions to become our default set of emotions that run our lives.

The complex nature of emotions

Our brain reacts to our thoughts by releasing hormones and chemicals into our body which cause a state of arousal. Therefore, emotions are complex in nature, involving both biological and physiological processes. Both positive and negative emotions are realized in the same way, but their effect on us is drastically different.

We need to understand how we feel so we can process them, especially the negative emotions, to minimize the negative impact it has on us.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

The verse demonstrates the ultimate goal that we need to reach in our own lives. I believe learning about the negative emotions and what the Bible has to say about them is a step in the right direction.

Anger

It is defined as an intense emotional state involving a solid uncomfortable, and non-cooperative response to a perceived provocation, hurt, or threat.

First, let’s see what the Bible has to say when this emotion is out of control in our lives.

Proverbs 29:11, A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back.

Proverbs 15:18, A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention.

Here is the recommendation from the Bible regarding this emotion.

Ephesians 4: 26, 27, Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger and give no opportunity to the devil.

Let’s see how Jesus dealt with this emotion.

In Matthew 21:12, we Jesus demonstrating anger, “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves.”

Jesus’ anger was directed at the actions of the people in the temple. Jesus did not avoid the emotion, nor did he overdo it. He is all-powerful, and so he could have done anything he wanted, but Jesus exercised control. In Luke 9:53-55, we come across a situation where the people refuse to welcome Jesus. It reads,

But the people there refused to welcome Him because He was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do You want us to call down fire from heaven to consume them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them.

Jesus rebukes the suggestion made by the disciples and moves on his journey. There is a lot to learn here: emotion in serving a greater good and the refusal to indulge in the same manner for personal reasons. In the temple, Jesus’ anger resulted from the corruptness and greediness evident in the marketplace, and when it came to his own self, he refuses to dwell on it. He brushes it off and moves on.

Therein lies the lesson for all of us. How do you use anger in your daily life? Does it play a dominant role in your life? Is that one of your default emotions for any situation that does not go according to plan? How would you use Jesus’ example in your life today?

Fear

It is a powerful, natural human emotion. Sometimes fear arises from real threats; other times, it can originate from imagined dangers. It is a necessary emotion when dealing with threats that can harm us. Many times, we are cowered by fear because we dwell on imagined situations.

When discussing imagined fears, 2 Timothy 1:7 says, For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.

I like the verse in Isaiah 41:10, which says, fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. And the verse in Isaiah 43:1 says, don’t fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine.

Kind David dealt with real threats all his life, and he says in Psalm 118:6 The Lord is with me: I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Do you find yourself dwelling on imagined fears? Maybe you have a real threat to your life; would you go to God with them? Take on the identity that God is giving you; you are His and believe it will help you to face life with courage.

Disgust

It is a feeling of hatred or strong disapproval aroused by something unpleasant or offensive. Physically this emotion has the same effect as fear. This emotion is better understood when associated with words such as underwhelmed and discouragement. Again, the critical idea that needs to be repeated is that the feeling becomes harmful when it dominates your thoughts and plays a central role in your life.

In Matthew 17:17, Jesus demonstrates this emotion towards the people who lack faith. He says, And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.”

Kind David demonstrates this emotion to the people who do not follow the word of God. Psalm 119:158 says, I behold the treacherous and loathe them because they do not keep Your word.

Apostle Paul demonstrates it is a similar situation in Acts 18:5,6, “But when Silas and Timothy came down from Macedonia, Paul began devoting himself completely to the word, solemnly testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. But when they resisted and blasphemed, he shook out his garments and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clean. From now on, I will go to the Gentiles.”

Again, in the Bible, disgust is directed towards the action of specific individuals. It is also aimed at things of eternal value like faith, belief, following the word of God, and towards Jesus, the savior of mankind.

When this emotion is continuously entertained, it turns into loathing which is the opposite of trust. Now you can see how that will affect your life.

Sadness

It is a natural reaction to situations in life that cause emotional upset or pain. We all feel sad from time to time. Things do always go the way we hope, and they don’t work out at all. There is a setback, then there are dead ends. Such results lead to sadness. How do you react to them? Are you stuck in such a feeling? Has your sadness turned into an obsession?

In John 11:35, Jesus reveals raw emotions. He weeps at the loss of Lazarus. Whereas Ecclesiastes 3:4 talks about a time for everything. “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;.”

Proverbs 17:22 talks about the ill effect of sadness. “A joyful heart is a good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” sadness sucks the life out of the person who dwells in it.

Psalm 30:5 recommends the amount of time to spend being sad. “Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. …”

Having the ability to express these emotions makes us human, but when we allow them to define us, we limit our true potential. Our ability to become successful is curtailed. Let us exercise some self-control. Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.” And finally, let me leave you with this verse, Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart(mind) with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.”

3 Lessons for Successful Leadership

Leadership skills are something that all of us need to develop to move to a higher level of success. Greater success is found when working with others on a joint mission, as this is evident when studying the success of any organization. Individuals can achieve success, but its reach is limited as you cannot be everything every time.

In Luke 2:41 – 52, we see the three things that lay the foundation for successful leadership. I agree it is an unlikely passage to recognize these principles. The passage is about Jesus visiting the temple in Jerusalem when he is 12 years old. He had gone there with his parents, and then Jesus decides to stay back without the knowledge of the parents. Mary and Joseph, the parents of Jesus, after 5 days, find him talking to the temple leaders.

Photo by Majestic Lukas on Unsplash

Jesus demonstrates at a young age the three fundamental principles that we need to show leadership. Here they are 1. Follow your vision 2. Listen and ask questions, and 3. The importance of patience. Let’s look at how Jesus applies these 3 fundamental principles in this situation.

Follow your vision

An overarching goal is essential to set the direction for any company. The same can be said about any individual’s life as well. The place we are going and what we would like to accomplish helps us judge every action and decision in light of that overarching goal.

A vision makes the decision-making process more straightforward as it helps one first see if an opportunity aligns with your purpose in life. In verse 49, we see Jesus demonstrating that “Didn’t you know that I had to be in my Father’s house?” For Jesus, his decision to stay back in Jerusalem made perfect sense as it aligned with his overall purpose. There are few key things to note when following your vision from the action that Jesus took that day.

Jesus had to break the custom and tradition of children following their parents to make sure that he was about his Father’s business. In the same way, following the crowd may not get us to where we want to go. We need to break away from our culture and routines to accomplish what we have planned to accomplish. Any real change happens when one questions the norms of their time. Ford challenged the status quo of horse-ridden carriages of his day and designed a passenger car for the masses, and changed the future of mankind forever.

Jesus clearly stuck out from the crowd. The relatives and friends of Jesus who had traveled with him to take part in the festival traveled back with their parents and relatives but not Jesus. To accomplish His purpose, Jesus had to make a decision that made him stand out from the crowd.

Mary and Joseph did not understand the decision that Jesus took that day. The same will be confirmed in your situation as well. People around you, your family, and friends may not understand the decisions you take or the reason for the change you seek. They want to see you fit the same mental image that they have set up for you in their minds, but you have decided to grow and achieve great things. Therefore, it has now become necessary for you to stick out to become a better version of yourself.

Jesus realized that he needed more than what he was able to get in Nazareth for him to grow. The same is true for each of us. What we need is just outside our comfort zone. Meeting new people, conversing with them, taking part in new experiences, learning from other’s experiences will help you to grow faster. Your comfort zone limits your potential. Stepping outside of it is essential to serve a greater purpose in your life.

When you are on your journey, way out of your comfort zone, you need people you can trust to come looking for you. Jesus had that in Mary and Joseph. Jesus needed to stay back and have that conversation, but it was also necessary for Jesus to have the support of his earthly parents to be by his side. He could not do it all by himself.

Jesus repurposed a routine task to move forward with his vision. In verse 41, Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover,” Jesus’s family had done that every year, but this year was different as Jesus had bigger plans. He wanted to have more information to act on his vision. Do you have any routine tasks that you need to repurpose? Maybe you think the routine has become meaningless. If so, what can you do to add color to your vision? Inventing a new system is not strictly necessary. Repurposing, updating, and upgrading works equally well in most cases.

Listen and ask questions

Jesus demonstrates an essential principle in this situation which many of us fail to implement in our everyday lives. Most of the time, we approach conversations thinking about what it is that we want to say and our ideas that we want to present. Not Jesus v46 “listening to them and asking them questions.” Jesus did not show up at the temple to show off his skills, nor was he there to share what he thought; instead, Jesus listened and asked questions. Listening and understanding others can help you develop a product that can benefit the customer base that you seek to reach. If you created a product in a vacuum, you run the risk of not making any sales.

Apple was able to revolutionize the personal music business because they listened to the issues people had with a Walkman and worked to correct it with the iPod, making all the difference in the market.

Jesus shows us that humility and not arrogance is critical to our success. V.47 “Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers.” Jesus used the opportunity to learn from the competition instead of wasting the opportunity to show the competition what he knew. Jesus being humble, demonstrated great understanding by speaking less and listening more.

Moses failed to listen to the people of Israel even though his intentions were great. He wanted to lead them and provide them deliverance, but his product was rejected by the people of Israel. Had Mosses asked questions and listened, he could have saved a lot of time. It took Moses another 40 years to have another chance at delivering the people of Israel. We can save ourselves a lot of trouble if we follow Jesus’ example.

The importance of patience

Here we see an essential lesson demonstrated by Jesus. Jesus made a bold move and stood out from the crowd, but he is not arrogant. Jesus did not refuse to follow his parents nor declare that he is beginning his work aged 12. Read v 51 “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.” Jesus was willing to wait for the divine time to come. He was in no rush. Success is not achieved by hastiness but with calculated discipline.

Jesus waited 18 years from this moment to start his ministry. In the instant culture that we are part of, we may believe that everything should happen immediately, but nature does not work that way. Life takes time. You can compare your vision to making a loaf of bread: one needs to mix the ingredients, let it sit, and allow the yeast to do its work. After a while, you put it in the oven, and you get to enjoy delicious bread. If any of the processes is rushed, your end product will not be bread, and you will have to start all over again.

In verse 51, the phrase “went down to” is used, and it means that you have returned to the place you very badly want to leave. You may have to stay in the circumstance even though your thinking and ability exceed them. It is a benefit as you can stay away from the distraction and patiently prepare to execute your vision.

It took only 3.5 years for Jesus to execute his vision. The effect of his sacrifice is evident even today. It motivates us, gives us hope and a purpose to face life. Jesus’s patience paid off. Jesus did not need 40 years to execute his vision; he did it in 3.5 years because he prepared for 18 years. Your preparation is more critical than your execution.

In v 52, we read, “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” Patience produces wisdom, reputation, and favor in the eyes of God. Jesus demonstrated the 3 principles that we need for leadership perfectly. A vision drives your decision-making to communicate to listen and not prove oneself, and finally be patient and wait to execute your plan. Moses had to take a detour of 40 years because he failed to listen, while Jesus’ patience helped him to prepare for 18 years to accomplish the plan of salvation that has affected the entire universe.

Who says success is easy

Recently I came across a real-life example of what it takes to succeed. Here is the story first.

Jaquie Goncher of Marietta, Georgia, was 17 years old when she was paralyzed from the neck down due to a swimming accident. The doctors told her at that time that she will never be able to walk again. However, she refused to believe that, so she told Cosmopolitan magazine that “I would go to the gym and get so frustrated that I wouldn’t go back, I was trying to make myself do it, but I kept failing at it, and then I would be disgusted with myself,”

Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

She made up her mind a year before her wedding that she will walk down the aisle. She told ABC News, “Because of my blood pressure, I couldn’t stand for more than 30 minutes,” “I knew I’d be able to walk down the aisle with help, but what I really wanted to be able to do was to stand at the wedding and dance at the wedding without the wheelchair.”

Goncher accomplished her goal on her wedding day. She walked down the aisle, she stood through the ceremony and reception, she also danced at her wedding.

Reading Jaquie’s story got me thinking about success and the journey to achieve our goals. The journey to success is never easy, but most of the time, we look at the final moment of glory and dwell only on the achievement and hope we will have the same level of achievement. Here are a few lessons worth repeating from the life of Jaquie.

Life’s bubble bursts at times

We spend a lot of time planning and preparing to avoid problems in our lives, but time and time again, we see that difficulties have a way of showing up in our lives. It is life’s way of helping us practice what we have learned. It is also an opportunity to learn new things about ourselves and the skills we need to grow. You may not be able to use this perspective when you are in the midst of the crisis, but only after you have passed through it.

We see Joseph similarly reflecting on his life. 

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. — Genesis 50:20 NIV

Setbacks are not abnormal

 In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16: 33

When we are pursuing a goal, failures are a common occurrence. If you are not facing any setback in your life, you are playing it safe. You are well within your comfort zone using only your well-developed expertise. Growth happens outside your comfort zone. It is there you learn more about yourself, your ability, and your potential.

Take on a challenge today that is brand new to you. See what you can do with the challenge. React to setbacks as a learning opportunity. Think about what to do next and not dwell on the failure. Learn from it and move on.

As Jacquie says, dwelling on failure will affect you negatively. She was disgusted with herself. Focusing on what to do next will help you to move forward.

Unselfish goals have a higher success rate

Jaquie intended to walk soon after her recovery but made little progress. She says she would go to the gym with determination to reach her goal, but then, being disappointed with failure, she will not return to the gym.

She set a one-year time frame to walk, but now the goal is to walk and dance on her wedding day. The purpose now includes her fiancée as well as her family and friends. I believe this change in the drive brought about the energy needed for Jacquie to achieve her goal.

In Luke 16:18, Jesus talks about a rich man with selfish goals,  “Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain.” Selfish goals don’t help you reach further in your life. In verse 21, Jesus says, “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

What are your goals? Are they all of a selfish nature? How can you repurpose your goal?

Real-life is not instant

Jaquie was injured when she was 17, and she could walk again at the age of 25. It took 8 long years for her to achieve her desire. In that time, however, Jacquie learned more about herself and repurposed her goals to include others.

Even though Jaquie made the final push in the last year, she worked on it for all 8 years. She made minor movements towards her final goal. Though the increments may have looked very insignificant at that time, they add up.

Proverbs 21:5 sums up this idea perfectly, “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty.”

Jaquie sums her experience accurately by saying, “It’s been a really, really long journey with a lot of ups and a lot of downs as well,” she said. “It’s just all been God in my life and leaning on my faith in him.”

What challenges are you facing in your life right now? Have the experts concluded that nothing can be done in this situation and recommended that you give up? Are you looking at the difficulty, and you are not able to see its end? Are you exhausted from tirelessly working to solve the problem? Think about the four lessons from Jaquie’s life. Take one day at a time and you will be on the other side soon enough.