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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

4 Lessons On Success From An Ant

Ants are tiny insects that we see everywhere. You can see them among the leaves when you go for a walk, you can also see them in your house if you left some food on the floor. According to Britannica, there are about 10000 species of ants, and they are pretty popular in hot climates. No wonder they have made it to the Bible.

Proverbs 6:6-8 says, Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.

So what can we learn about success from an ant? There are four characteristics that an ant demonstrates that each of us can follow, which can guarantee our success. They are persistence, focus, communication, and collaboration.

Photo by Fas Khan on Unsplash

Ants are persistent

Ants show a never-give-up attitude when it comes to everything that they do. You find them in odd places, and you also find them doing incredible things to find food. They even travel long distances to find food. They migrate the whole colony in a matter of hours to over the issue they have in the natural habitat.

Highly persistent ants will keep on pulling objects that are much heavier than their body weights for hours, hoping that they will eventually be able to drag the food to their nests.

Ants are also tough to get rid of. The Irish Times reported an incident where a house built on a farm in an ant’s territory could not get rid of them entirely even after 20 years. Think about that for a moment. The ants kept coming back even though the location hurt their existence.

Persistence is a crucial character to possess on your journey to success. The journey is not going to be easy. Gaining your territory will need your complete effort. No one is going to hand it to you. Setbacks are a natural part of the journey. Learn from it, pivot away, and move on to your final destination. Lingering too long will negatively influence your ability to think about your next steps.

Ants are focused

Ants demonstrate a purpose in all the things that they do. You don’t see ants roaming around aimlessly. Each one of them takes on a role in the colony and performs that role till they die. The male ants live for a week, but queen ants sometimes live as long as 30 years, depending on the breed. No matter how long their life span is, the ant goes about performing the role that it had taken on.

An interesting fact about ants is that one ant is not assigned a specific role for life. The ant assumes a position based on the need that arises in their surrounding. An ant that is patrolling the area of its nest will turn into a forager when it sees some food. An ant will not pass by some food, thinking that is not my job. Neither will it say someone who will come after me will bring the food in.

Ants are focused on taking care of their colony, and they do everything they can to see that goal to be true. The ants are willing to serve and be a part of their community.

Laser-sharp focus is necessary to see your goals come true in your life. An unwavering desire to realize your vision is a quality that attracts others towards you. “What you watch grows.”

Ants are excellent communicators

Ants use three different ways to communicate with other members of their colony. They use a chemical called pheromones. These are the chemicals that are responsible for the long lines of ants that you see. They also use sounds and touch to communicate with each other.

Communication is the number one skill that you need to realize what you dream in life. The level of expertise you have in skill is directly proportional to the success you will achieve in your life.

Proverbs 25: 11 says A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.

Communicating with yourself and with your team are two different games. When to speak and when not to is something that you learn with experience. When to explain, defend your position, apologize, listen and take on the opinion of others are all part of communication.

The largest of ant colonies are estimated to be around 300 million individual ants. How would such a colony survive without proper channels of communication? There needs to be a seamless flow of information between all the ants to thrive in any location.

Another important fact is that ants don’t have ears, and so they communicate by listening to the vibrations. Focus, another skill we talked about earlier, plays a vital role here.

Ants are fantastic collaborators

Ants depend on each other to enjoy the life that they have. They eagerly take on various roles and perform to the best of their ability. The ants follow each other and cooperate with one another to achieve a common goal.

Ants can organize themselves to take on any task, be it defending their position, building their nest, protecting their food and eggs, build protection from flooding, or anything that is needed for the colony.

The vital thing to note here is that ants don’t have leadership or managerial roles within their colony. So no ant is there to tell others what every ant should be doing. How does a colony of ants then accomplish so much? Shouldn’t there be chaos? Isn’t that what happens when a group of intelligent humans comes together to do something?

1 Corinthians 12: 14 For the body is not one member, but many.

Ants make decisions on what they should do based on what the need is around them. Individual ants don’t have a big picture, but they all have it collectively, which drives each ant’s actions that are part of a colony.

When working with a team, everyone in the group should see the vision for themselves; otherwise, the members’ performance will be half-hearted, and the progress hindered. Learning to collaborate with one another on a team that has come together is essential to achieve the goal.

Ants demonstrate key characteristics that we should adopt in our lives to realize success in our lives. Ants reveal that size or position does not matter. Employing everlasting principles will help anyone reach their goals even if it seems too big at the start. So what are you waiting for?

3 Essentials To Own A Successful Empire

All of us want to be successful in the things that we do. We have the urge to grow things, and we derive from it a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. Solomon was no different. He was given a new responsibility to fill the void his father, David, had left. David was well-loved by the people to whom he served as king. David established the kingdom of Israel and created a name for his country in that part of the world. Now it was Solomon’s turn to lead. The people of Israel were not sure what to expect.

In 2 Chronicles 1:1,2, we see that Solomon demonstrates a knack for leadership. “Solomon, son of David, strengthened his hold on his kingdom. The Lord, his God, was with him and highly exalted him. Then Solomon spoke to all Israel, to the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, to the judges, and to every leader in all Israel—the heads of the families.” Solomon communicates with everyone who is a leader in the kingdom, and most importantly, God was with him.

Photo by Luca Bravo on Unsplash

Now, Solomon could have settled for the success he has achieved and be satisfied with his accomplishments that he has already attained because he had strengthened the hold on the kingdom, and things are going smoothly. Solomon had reached a mountain top, but he was not keen to stay there for long.

2 Chronicles 1:7, That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him: “Ask. What should I give you?”

Let that verse sit there for a minute. Put yourself in the shoes of Solomon. You have achieved some level of success. It may seem that you have done this on your own even though God’s guidance was present throughout. Now God shows up and asks you this question: Ask, What should I give you?

You can replace Solomon’s name with yours and read it out loud. ________ Ask. What should I give you? How would you answer that question? Would you ask for something that you need now? Would you ask for something small and temporal? Would you ask for something now and regret it later? Would your request be vague and superficial? Solomon asked for Knowledge, Understanding, and Wisdom.

2 Chronicles 1:10 Give me wisdom and knowledge.

1 Kings 3:9

Give your servant, therefore, an understanding mind to govern your people,

The three essential things that one needs to own a successful empire are knowledge, understanding, and Wisdom.

Knowledge

Proverbs 1:22 How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple? How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing, and fools hate knowledge?

To make any sort of progress in any field, one needs to know the facts, information, and principles that govern that field. You would have received knowledge in a classroom in the School and in a College. You also find this information in textbooks, and they are also readily available online.

A lack of knowledge leads to destruction. Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; Having the information will help you to make the right decision for a specific situation. Finding detailed information in your field of interest that is current will give you the advantage that you need to move forward with your plan of action.

While knowledge is an essential first step, knowledge alone is not helpful as facts alone can’t take you far. An encyclopedia contains a lot of information, and its usefulness ends there. Facts can be beneficial to entertain people and probably take part in a quiz, but its effectiveness ends there.

Understanding

Proverbs 18:2 A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his opinion.

Understanding is the ability to relate the information you have so it makes valuable sense. You can look at a set of data and see how they are associated with each other or how they can be connected.

The ability to comprehend the information that you have in your possession is understanding. You may read a piece of information, or you may read a book. In both these cases, you should follow what the content is revealing to you and how you could use it for your benefit is to demonstrate your understanding.

The root word for understanding comes from a Latin word which means to grasp. We also use the word comprehend as a synonym for understanding. With knowledge, you know the ‘what’ of the matter, and with understanding, you know the ‘why’ of the issue.

When you know only the facts, you are no more than an encyclopedia. When you understand a concept, you can then simply explain the concept.  A teacher demonstrates both knowledge and understanding.

Wisdom

Proverbs 24:14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul; if you find it, there will be a future, and your hope will not be cut off.

Wisdom is defined as the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment. As you can see, wisdom encompasses knowledge and understanding. The keyword in the definition is the experience that one gain from taking action on the information and the plan they have.

Solomon writes that by having wisdom, we will have a future filled with hope. His advice to us is to seek wisdom more than anything else. Seeking riches alone is a short-sighted goal, but wealth can be gained when seeking and finding wisdom.

James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

Ask, and it will be given to you.

Proverbs 2:6 says, “For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

Solomon sums it up accurately. We need all the three to own a thriving empire, but most importantly, we need to remember that we can go to God, who gives generously to those who ask of Him.

What are the characteristics of humility

Humbleness is defined as the modest view one takes about their own importance. It comes from within a person, which reflects a mindset that one adopts to display this trait. Sometimes we hear someone recount a humbling experience that they had. They feel that way because they did not think that they deserve that experience but are grateful that they had the opportunity to have experienced it.

Humility is not a weakness. Recognizing the reality of your interdependence as a human being is not a weakness. You are recognizing the reality of your situation and crediting the influence the community has on you.

The expression of humility is not the same as cowardice. Humility puts others ahead of you, which is a courageous thing to do. It is a bold move for one to think about others more than yourself. It takes courage to not look after only your interests in things that you do. You require a higher power to demonstrate this virtue in your life.

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis

As you can see, being humble is not a natural part of many cultures. The popular philosophy of taking care of yourself is admired as a necessity and a requisite for success. But what place does humility hold in such a philosophy? What does the Bible say about humility and the role it should play in our lives?

I would like to make three distinct comparisons between the world’s popular culture and compare it to how humility will answer those ideals.

Humility is selfless when the world says be assertive

Assertiveness is the ability to show confidence and a forceful personality. Being assertive is celebrated as an essential quality to have as it relates to standing up for yourself, holding your own, and claiming what you think is rightfully yours.

When used in moderation, assertiveness helps you to share your opinion and be heard. Combining assertiveness with communication skills such as making eye contact, listening carefully before speaking, maintaining a positive body posture, and thinking before speaking ensures that you are respectfully assertive.

Photo by Ambitious Creative Co. – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

As it is true with everything, an overdose of assertiveness stands opposite to humility when taken to the extreme. Humility ensures that you think about the person or the people in front of you. You are not thinking only about yourself in the conversation. Your rights, even though they are important, you are working to understand the person in front of you.

Jesus demonstrated the perfect selfless attitude. Even though He knew Judas was going to deceive Him, Jesus did not show resentment or anger but only care for his salvation. Jesus was not keen on revenge when he meets Peter after his resurrection, not a word about Peter’s betrayal. Jesus was keen on keeping his promise of using Peter as the rock on which He will build His church.

If Jesus focused on being assertive, he would have placed importance on the mistakes others made and how that infringed on His rights, how that is unfair to Him, how that has made Jesus feel, and so on. But we see Jesus cares about Peter more than Himself. You can be sure Jesus would have dealt the same way with Judas had he not taken his own life.

What does being selfless mean to you? What lesson do you take away from the way Jesus demonstrated selfless humility, even if it meant His personal rights were infringed? How would being selfless look in your life today?

Humility is sacrificial when the world is combative

In today’s age, where technology has given everyone a platform to share their opinion, the urge to take the most controversial stand so that one can stand out from the crowd has overtaken many a people. Such an approach has given rise to a culture where one is expected to be combative.

The word combative is used to describe aggressive behavior, where a person is ready or inclined to fight their stance. The intention is to defend the position they have taken at all cost, and such conduct leaves no room for any other opinion. It’s my way of the highway approach brings more division and separation than anything else.

Humility, on the other hand, is sacrificial, meaning your action are for a higher purpose. You are willing to meet the people in their current state and work hard to understand them. A genuine effort made on your part to understand and meet the need of the person you disagree with is a higher calling. I agree it is easier said than done. A lot of time out is required to make any progress.

A combative nature is born when emotion is mixed with opinion. I have to say that I need to be heard, I have remained patient for long enough, and I am not a doormat. I will not stay silent anymore. All of these sentences being with me and focuses on what is important to you. This line of reasoning is proper when you are thinking about defending your position and not when you are in self-sacrificing mode.

Jesus said, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” The crowd said, you said this, you said that you said you will do this and that, but Jesus remained silent. His purpose was higher than what was happening at that moment. Jesus did not focus on defending Himself. His intention was not to prove that He was right or that Jesus was who He said He was, but He let His actions speak for Himself.

Jesus on the cross is a source of worship, a source of inspiration, a source of hope, and much more because of How Jesus focused on humble sacrifice rather than being combative and responding to the actions or opinions of others.

What does sacrifice mean to you? What lessons can we learn from Jesus regarding the humbleness that He demonstrated on the cross? How do we practice sacrificial humility when the world around us demonstrates combativeness?

Humility is about service when the world is about winning at all costs

We live in a world where making a profit has become the primary focus of almost all businesses. We will sell it to you even though we know the product is not good for you in the long run. The profit in the present is more important than the lawsuit that may come later seems to be the thinking among some major companies.

The attitude is not limited to corporations; it is now the anthem of many individuals as well. I will cut you down if I can get ahead of you is the way people deal with each other. The result of this attitude is backstabbing, under-cutting, holding back full potential and actual ability.

 ‘A service is any activity or benefit that one party can offer to another, which is essentially intangible and does not result in the ownership of anything. Its production may or may not be tied to a physical product.’ – Kotler, Armstrong, Saunders, and Wong

A service is an act of humility as you are seeking the benefit of another. It is their need, interest, well-being, and experience that comes before your profit or agenda.

Again, we look at the life of Jesus to learn how service is supposed to look like in life. Philippians 2: 7 says “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

the NIV says, “rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”,

the NLT says, “Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form,”,

the ESV says, “but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”

the Good News says, “Instead of this, of his own free will he gave up all he had, and took the nature of a servant. He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness.”

These translations give us an idea of what the ultimate form of service means. We can begin to understand what the golden rule means: To do for others what you will want them to do for you. How can you add value to the people around you? How can you add value to your family, at work, with your friends?

What does add value mean? Instead of just doing only your job, you are thinking about creating a memorable experience. The experience goes above the standard requirement.

I watched a short story where a rich man enters an old restaurant run by an elderly lady and intends to buy the property because it is in a prime location. The lady asks this man to sit and have a meal. She provides a generous serving of food for the price he pays, and he is surprised that the lady gives a drink and some salad for free with the food. The rich man is surprised and enquires how much profit does the lady makes?

The lady replies, pointing to different clients eating there; I helped him buy and pay for a taxi. I helped her pay for her child’s education, and she goes on listing a few more things that she was indirectly able to accomplish because she is serving food at a reasonable cost. That what the service looks like. It is not what you can get but what others can do as a result of the service you are providing.

Being humble is a core value that each of us should practice. Humility is selfless, it is sacrificial, and it is about service. Is humility a core value of yours?