Striving for improvement and progress is to be applauded. It's easy to find great articles at the push of a button on how to develop and improve habits for success. For example, great articles like “Five Things Successful People Do” by Ben Hargrove in the Forbes newsletter emphasize that success requires hard work and creating processes that will yield measurable results. Jack Kelly’s recommendations for success in “How To Become Super Successful In 2024” include that we must remain adaptable to new opportunities and stay relevant in our field of expertise.
As we are striving to be successful in this world, which is often described as "climbing the corporate ladder," the Christian believer has additional disciplines to add to our repertoire of tools for success. The typical recommendations for success, if they do not conflict with our Christian beliefs, can be worthy of implementation.
Courtney Jacob describes spiritual discipline as “... training exercises for the spiritual life… to aid our spiritual growth as disciples of Christ and deepen our relationship with God.” At the core of our Christian life are the principles that guide us in our daily living. When we want to develop in any specific area of our lives, like physical fitness, it requires discipline. Discipline requires diligence and consistency to bring the desired results.
The following spiritual disciplines are important to remember as you continue to climb the ladder of success:
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1. Pray to Alleviate Worry and Stress
Why is prayer a vital discipline to practice as we navigate our way to success? Dr. R. C. Sproul says, “Prayer is to the Christian what breath is to life…” Prayer will alleviate worry and stress and replace it with peace. No matter how large or small an issue, the discipline of prayer can take all concerns to God instead of us stressing over them. This is even relevant for the president, vice president, or executive assistant at any organization.
As believers, we have an advantage when we practice the discipline of prayer. Prayer gives us access to God for wisdom and insight when we have professional decisions to make. Through prayer, we can seek God for advice and guidance regarding important negotiations. As David did, we should go to God and ask Him, “Shall I pursue…?” (1 Samuel 30:8 KJV).
Philippians 4:6-7 (AMP) says, "Do not be anxious or worried about anything, but in everything [every circumstance and situation] by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, continue to make your [specific] requests known to God. And the peace of God [that peace which reassures the heart, that peace] which transcends all understanding, [that peace which] stands guard over your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus [is yours]."
Remember, we must be connected with and abide in Christ to receive the benefits of prayer, according to John 15:7 (AMP): “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you [that is, if we are vitally united and My message lives in your heart], ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.”
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2. Read the Bible to Reveal the Heart of God for Our Lives
Prayer is us initiating a conversation with God. The Bible is God initiating conversation with us. It is through reading the Bible as a spiritual discipline that we learn the heart of God in all areas of our lives. Through reading the Bible, we learn what privileges we have as believers. For example, we learn we have the right to ask for wisdom (James 1:5 KJV).
Psalms 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”
The Word of God is the light we need to show us if we are going in the direction He wants us to go or not.
2 Timothy 3:16 shares that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:”
The world frequently demonstrates that the way to success is by any means necessary. Do whatever it takes to meet your goals with no standards of fairness or integrity. However, Scripture is our compass for instruction even in our business dealings. For example, usual business strategies may suggest that you deal with others the way they deal with you to be respected. Our spiritual disciplines prepare us to, according to the instruction from the Word of God, love our neighbor (our business partner, coworkers, etc.) as ourselves. We want to be treated with fairness and integrity so we purpose to do the same to others.
Psalms 119:11 says, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee." Daily decisions have to be made as we conduct business. This Scripture reminds us that it is imperative to know the Word of God and keep it in our hearts so that when we have opportunities to go in a direction that will cause us to sin, we will not fall prey to temptation.
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3. Fast to Help with Self Control
Please be advised to speak with your doctor first if you have certain health conditions that might be negatively impacted by fasting. Fasting is intended to be a sacrifice, not a health risk. If you have never practiced fasting, speak with your spiritual leader as well for a recommendation on a type of fast you might do. Fasting is intentionally sacrificing something that you enjoy for a designated period, usually food and certain drinks. The intent of fasting is to help the believer get closer to God. It increases our dependency on God and humbles us. I have found that prayer and fasting help us practice self-control. Our flesh screams for what it wants, but prayer and fasting strengthen our inner spirit to say no to the flesh.
While we fast, we seek God’s guidance and strength through prayer. The spiritual discipline of fasting can help us get clarity from God on what to do next and even who to collaborate with. Acts 13:2-3 shows us this when the people of God heard from Him while fasting regarding the kingdom assignment for Barnabas and Saul. Fasting includes setting aside distractions to focus on seeking God for His direction and will for our lives. It is personal and not done for public display and attention.
“And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting…” Daniel 9:3
“When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting." Matthew 6:16-18
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4. Forgive to Free Others of Relational Debt
We usually expect to talk about forgiveness when it relates to personal relationships. You may be wondering how this enters a conversation about business success. There are two consequences of unforgiveness that can be a hindrance to you in your pursuit of success:
The first consequence is that unforgiveness in our hearts blocks our prayers from being heard.
According to Psalm 66:18, if we have unconfessed sin in our hearts, God will not hear us. Sin is anything that falls short of the standard the Word of God has set. The Word of God has set the standard for the believer, which is that we are to forgive. Several Scriptures that establish this expectation include Ephesians 4:31-32, Colossians 3:13, Mark 11:25, Ephesians 4:13, and Matthew 6:14-15. Take time to read and meditate on these verses.
A spiritual discipline listed previously is prayer. We need to be able to seek God daily at any time with our requests as we are maneuvering in our strategies for success. If we decide not to practice forgiveness, we are risking the privilege to communicate with God and have Him hear our prayers.
Another consequence of unforgiveness is that we grieve the Holy Spirit.
When we disobey God, according to Ephesians 4:30-32, we sadden the Holy Spirit who dwells inside of us. This Scripture expounds on how we do this: with bitterness, wrath, and anger. The verse proceeds to tell us that the antidote to grieving the Holy Spirit is to be kind and tender-hearted, forgiving one another. In my book Free to Forgive, I address this: “When we grieve the Holy Spirit, we are not operating in the full capacity of power available to us. We need the Holy Spirit to fully lead, guide, and empower us daily.” This is true in the handling of our business dealings.
Our careers may change, but our Christian conduct should remain consistent. Practicing spiritual disciplines is necessary to grow and remain consistent with our Christian beliefs. Continue to learn from experts as you develop your plans for success, but also include the spiritual disciplines of prayer, fasting, Scripture reading, and forgiveness as you climb the ladder of success.
“Discipline…are the stairs we climb, the slouching we put aside, and the action we continuously do in private that get us to our goals.” - David Yard
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Originally published Monday, 05 February 2024.