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Do you want to make something of your life? Do you want to be a success? Success in life does not happen by accident. Success is the result of time-tested principles. Here is an example: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). In other words, all knowledge starts with the solid foundation of a fear of God. Foundations are an important part of a successful life.
If you take a few moments to stop and observe the foundation of a new home being built, you will see that trenches are dug, then filled with concrete or cinder blocks to support the house. Perhaps a concrete slab will be poured on top of these trenches for the house to rest upon. Every house must have a foundation. The tallest skyscrapers use the same types of components for strong, solid foundations. If you could see underground, you would see very similar patterns. Yet a building’s construction does not end with the foundation. Strong “pillars” are required to frame and support the building as it is built to its eventual height.
From the ground up, buildings have an endless variety of shapes, sizes and designs. To recognize God’s rule over our life is a solid foundation. Yet, as individuals ruled by God’s law of love, we as individuals differ in personality and strengths in many ways, which we must consider as we build our lives on the solid foundation of God’s word.
So, how can we “frame” what we are as we grow from childhood into adulthood in a way that is beautiful, attractive, honorable and virtuous? How can we become what God intends us to be? What are the “pillars” that we will anchor in our foundation to build strong and successful lives?
This pillar is critical to a successful life, and can be built from the time we are children. Remember what we read in the Book of Proverbs: “Even a child is known by his deeds, whether what he does is pure and right” (Proverbs 20:11).
Integrity, truthfulness and purity are far greater in value than being “cool”, “hot”, “popular” and “bad.” If your character is built strong and true, it will support you in all you do. It will bring you respect, trust and honor—from God and man. The account of Joseph and Potiphar’s wife provides a good example of the character that was at the core of this young man—it was a fundamental part of his personality (Genesis 39:1–23). When she attempted to seduce him, he said, “There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:9).
If we develop God’s holy and righteous character, knowing what is right and habitually doing it, we will be prepared for some of the most difficult situations that life will bring us.
Do you love knowledge? Are you curious about the world around us? The desire to search for understanding, to learn and “know,” is a God-given human trait. Solomon wrote, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter” (Proverbs 25:2). In other words, making an effort to learn is an honorable and God-created impulse in humans. “A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5).
Our world has been flooded with knowledge. It is easy to be overwhelmed and jaded. We can also fall into the trap of wanting quick answers instead of a thorough understanding. If we take our academic education seriously when we are young, developing a love of learning, and acquiring knowledge with enthusiasm, we will build one more pillar of strength that will add to our success in life. Not everyone is a star student, but we can all benefit from adding to our knowledge.
For some young people, music can provide another pillar of success. Some play in a school band, others sing in a choir, or learn to play an instrument on their own. Learning to sing on pitch or play in tune trains our brain in a specific way. And through music training, we learn diligence and patience, as well as teamwork and cooperation. We experience the beauty and power of sound and harmony. King David loved music. We read, “Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets” (1 Chronicles 13:8). Playing music can be an emotional, joyous experience. It also can provide one more pillar that can give us strength and comfort throughout our life.
Learning how to play sports is a great way to build another pillar in our life. By engaging in one or more sports, we develop our body physically. Paul reminded Timothy that “bodily exercise profits a little” (1 Timothy 4:8). He used the example of exercising to help us in our physical life, to teach about the importance of striving for eternal life. Physically speaking, some sports focus more on agility, others on strength or stamina. Team sports teach lessons of cooperation, while individual sports demand personal focus. Whether you learn to play basketball or baseball, run track or swim, play golf or tennis, developing some athletic ability and experience can be another beneficial pillar in life. The lessons of discipline, tenacity and wholeheartedness that are required in sports are lessons for life. And some sports can be enjoyed long into adulthood.
If you have the opportunity to travel and visit other states and countries, you are building a pillar! Seeing life in places besides our own hometown broadens our perspectives and helps us think differently. We develop empathy for other people and their way of life. We recognize the value and beauty in other cultures and customs, even though they are different from ours.
Just as homes and buildings differ in appearance and form, we are all different in personality. That is a good thing! But our personality is enhanced and supported by pillars that we build in our youth. I have only mentioned a few here, but there are many, many others. Perhaps you have an ability to write well, or to play chess. Maybe you participate in your drama club or are known for your ability to fix computers. When we develop areas of strength and experience, we gain confidence. We also share common understanding with others who have those same pillars. And, by having multiple pillars, we are not dependent on one area for our identity. Build pillars to build success!