ASK Newsletter 2nd Quarter 1996


How To Succeed In Life

John H. Stoll, Ph.D.
Executive Director, ASK, Inc.

With all the "How To" books available today, that cover about every desire, it seems imperative to consider what success in life really is, and just how does one attain it. Since there are many ideas on the matter, all of which are subjective in nature, it seems reasonable to consider an objective evaluation that is proper, not aligned with any human views, and provides us with a principled pattern. There can only be one source that fits the desired goal, and that is the Bible.

Since God created mankind, it seems reasonable that He has provided a sourcebook from which we can obtain an answer to our searching, and be guaranteed that one is able to successfully succeed in life. God knows us better than we know ourselves, as well as the fact that God desires that we enjoy success and fullness of life. Therefore He has provided a guide to that end in His Word.

In John 10:10, Jesus stated that, "I am come that you might have life, and that you might have it more abundantly". The "How To" is also prescribed in the Bible. Much of this understanding comes from illustrations in the lives of various people in the Bible.

When Joshua became the leader of the people of Israel, and before he led them into the promised land, God said to him, "This book of the law shall not depart out of your mouth: but you shall meditate therein day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success" (Joshua 1:8). The words "good success" are used only once in the whole Bible, in this verse. Good success was dependent upon allowing the principles of God's word to be the foundation upon which the nation was to build and be successful. So, today it is no different for the individual. God's principles are true, eternal, and as valid for us today, as they were for Israel.

Psalm 1:2,3 further reinforces this thought for it says that the righteous person has, "His delight in the law of the Lord: and in His law he meditates day and night". The result is, "He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he does shall prosper". God cares and provides for His children, who trust Him, and follow His Word. Success comes in knowing and following God's principles in His Word.

The contrast in life is seen in Romans 8:6, where it states, "For to be fleshly minded (i.e. self-centered) is death (i.e. to not succeed), but to be spiritually minded is life and peace". Today, people are consumed with a desire to succeed in life, as well as to have tranquility, but with the pressures to succeed, it seems almost impossible to have both at the same time. Yet, God's Word gives us the right prescription.

In order for us to know how to succeed in life, we need to understand how God evaluates success in life. In Exodus 31:3 it recounts how God filled the workman who constructed the tabernacle of Israel with knowledge, understanding, and wisdom, in order to succeed in the building. Knowledge is the acquiring of facts; understanding is the comprehension of the facts; and wisdom is knowing how to properly apply what one knows and understands to life's situations. In James 1:5, he tells us, "If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all liberally". Therefore, in order to know God's way of success, one must have a knowledge of His Word, and the discernment of understanding by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 2:9-14), then committed to God in prayer for wisdom (See also: Hebrews 4:16, and James 4:13-15). This is God's formula not only for success, but for fullness of life and peace, even in a troubled world.

As a loving heavenly Father, God wants His children to succeed and enjoy life. At the same time, and unlike an earthly father, He knows what is in our future, as well as knowing absolutely what is best for every child of His. Therefore, our response should be absolute trust in desiring His best for our lives. In this way we can be guaranteed success and fulfillment, even in the trials of life, which He allows to strengthen and mature us (see: I Corinthians 10:13 and II Corinthians 12:7-10).

An absolutely positive principle for our admonition is found in I Samuel 2:30, where God states, "For them that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed". In John 12:26, Jesus Christ stated a similar principle when He said, "If anyone serve me, him will my Father honor". Prosperity according to God's evaluation (which differs from mankinds: see, Luke 12:15), fullness of life, and success, can be attained not only in this life, but in that which is to come, when we humbly accept the precepts of God's Word, and pattern our lives according to them. Then God guarantees it, unconditionally.