Our world gives us frequent advice through advertisements, entertainment, politics, and social media about how to perform and achieve goals. Unless we listen to a Christian broadcast (and sad to say, in some cases, these are not always positive either), we receive conflicting and confusing information. If we do an internet search for a book about success, our browser will fill with multiple choices that can add further stress to our minds because we don’t know which one is best.
What is success? We can obtain a myriad of definitions for this tossed-around word. But our best avenue of obtaining the truth is to go to the one who is the real reflection of a satisfying life, and that is our Creator. The Trinity created humanity and gave us the motivation to produce good works according to His image.
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)
This verse tells us God desires for us to enjoy reflecting on His good works. Unfortunately, after sin entered the world, despair, defeat, and depression brought hopelessness. The motivation for productivity and the joy of accomplishment left man’s soul when shame entered his heart.
But Jesus, as the Son of God, came to restore hope and joy to mankind. The kingdom of God is within us as believers (Luke 17:20-21). As we draw on His heart we can reign as the children of the king.
We can learn these seven strategies for a successful life from Jesus.
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1. Jesus Exhibited Consistency
Jesus set His heart upon staying the course of His purpose. The Son of Man wasn’t wishy-washy. He didn’t have a plan one day and then changed His mind the next because something else drew His attention away. Jesus stuck to His commitments and followed through.
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. (Acts 10:38)
We can follow Jesus’ example in every area of our lives. As parents, we need to set guidelines for children and stay firm in keeping our word. If rules are set for behavior, and a child transgresses, the discipline that was laid down should be applied. If consequences are removed, children learn they can get away with wrong behavior, and they can’t depend upon a parent’s word.
In business settings, the same truth applies. Employees won’t know what to expect if their leadership is not consistent in plans and company guidelines. In the area of friendship and organizational memberships, relationships can suffer if promises are broken, and plans always change.
Of course, there are always exceptions, such as emergencies and unexpected incidents. But if consistency is the norm, these situations won’t throw our fellow employees or family members off course.
2. Jesus Knew How to Balance Work and Rest
Our Lord worked hard. He didn’t give in when tired, yet He knew when rest was necessary for refreshing His body and mind. He often drew away from crowds to pray and fill up with the Spirit’s words.
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” (Mark 6:31)
Many people suffer from burnout in their careers or Christian ministry because they feel propelled to continue working. Our minds may tell us if we stop, so many things won’t get done. But work requires balance with rest to make efforts productive.
A tired body can’t keep going and will sometimes cause health problems. A weary mind won’t think clearly, which can cause mistakes that may take a long time to correct. This is why God instituted the Sabbath. We need to work, but we also need wisdom in conducting our activities. Jesus was the perfect example of diligent balance.
3. Jesus Didn’t Compromise
As the Son of Man, the Lord dealt with people in varying backgrounds, social statuses, and political positions, but He didn’t change the principles He taught so He could gain favor (Mark 12:14). We can find ourselves in situations through careers, education, or relationships that tempt us to move away from our values so we can climb corporate ladders or get pats on the back if we will simply give in and go along with the crowd.
When we stay true to biblical values, we will be rewarded later, even if we go through a difficult season while waiting. God’s rewards are worth more than people’s opinions.
Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God. (John 12:42-43)
4. Jesus Listened to His Leadership
God, the Father, was Jesus’ leader. He stayed true to the Word of God to fulfill His Father’s will. He didn’t make decisions based on emotion.
We should have open minds and be willing to take advice but also have the wisdom to know if the words we hear are not beneficial. Rehoboam listened to his peers rather than the elders, and the result created struggles for the people of Israel (1 Kings 12:8).
In contrast, Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice about counseling the people, and Moses’ leadership position was made easier by his submission to a wise man’s advice (Exodus 18:24). We should be humble enough to realize we don’t know everything and having wise mentors can advance us toward an extraordinary future.
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5. Jesus Was Strong in the Face of Resistance
Hardships didn’t sway the Son of God. He was persecuted by some of the Pharisees during His earthly ministry. Jesus knew that the religious leaders did not portray the Law correctly to the people of Israel. He stood against the incorrect use of Scripture despite the insults, blasphemous words, and eventually crucifixion.
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former. (Matthew 23:23)
6. Jesus was Compassionate but Tough Toward His Team
Christ had many followers, but when His teaching didn’t please their ears, a lot of them left. The twelve stayed faithful, and He sometimes had to reprimand them because of their unbelief and their selfish motives when they wanted to know who would be the greatest.
But He was patient to teach these men what God’s character was like. After His ascension and their experience at Pentecost, they proclaimed the works of God with miracles and signs, and thousands believed (Acts 2:41).
They came to Capernaum. When he was in the house, he asked them, “What were you arguing about on the road?” But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest. Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” (Mark 9:33-34)
Daily activities provide opportunities for impatience to rise and control situations. Parents can grow frustrated with children who won’t listen. Spouses miscommunicate. Co-workers may have to be reminded multiple times of jobs that need to be done. Jesus’ methods can show us that compassionate toughness brings fruit.
7. Jesus Knew How to Delegate Work to Qualified People
As the Son of Man, Jesus lived in a limited physical body. He could only be in one place at a time. He sent His followers out two by two to neighboring towns to preach the message of the heavenly Father’s love. He had them distribute the loaves and fish on two occasions. Later, He gave the twelve instructions on how to prepare the Passover.
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. (John 15:16)
We are only one person. We can’t do everything. To be willing to distribute assignments to others takes stress off an administrator who can then thrive in his or her responsibilities. Part of the advice Moses received from Jethro was to select leaders from among the Israelite congregation which gave Moses some relief (Exodus 18:25).
We can share family responsibilities by assigning children multiple jobs to do in the home. The most influential executives in the corporate world are those who choose qualified people to lead teams and provide quality goods and services that benefit the company they work for as well as the consumer.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. (Proverbs 16:3)
Success Isn’t Measured by Possessions
A victorious person is one that glorifies God and fulfills the calling He put on our hearts. Our success isn’t measured by money or glory but by accomplishing what He gave us to do. A stay-at-home mom who follows God’s will can flourish more than a high-level corporate executive who doesn’t honor the Lord.
3 John 1:2 sums up what a successful life entails. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.
The key word here is soul. A person with abundant wealth but who lives in fear or depression is not a prosperous person. A person with a healed soul has the resources for abundant living.
If we follow the strategies of Jesus’ example, we will be happier and healthier and free of the stress of trying to follow someone else’s pattern and keep up with their accomplishments or possessions.
God has a different calling for all of us and when we work to promote and expand His kingdom we will someday hear, “Welcome good and faithful servant.”
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Originally published Thursday, 04 May 2023.