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In a world of growing economic trouble and uncertainty about the future, there are simple and practical steps you can take to find true success in life. You need to know—and apply—these vital principles!
Millions of people have lost jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Some were just starting their careers when the pandemic hit; others were established in prosperous pursuits that seemed to be a foundation for a lifetime of success. But then their hopes were dashed by an unprecedented economic and social crisis.
How have people responded? Some have turned to gambling. Already a widespread pursuit, the popularity of online gaming has mushroomed while people have spent weeks and months in “lockdown,” unable to do much outside their homes. In the United Kingdom, one report found that virtual sports betting increased by 88 percent in 2020 over the same month in 2019 (“The pandemic has triggered a British online gambling crisis,” Wired.co.uk, December 4, 2020).
Has all this gambling brought success? No! A few have won some money, but many more have lost—and many have fallen victim to gambling addiction. The National Council on Problem Gambling warned that “people with gambling problems may be affected more severely by the pandemic” (“Online Gambling, Gaming Addiction Has Increased During COVID-19,” Healthline.com, November 18, 2020).
Wealth is one very common measure of success, and it has been hard for many to find during the pandemic. But how do you define success, and how do you deal with failure? In this article, we will look briefly at one proven set of principles for achieving true success—principles that have helped me personally, as well as many other people I know.
Most people have heard of the inventor Thomas Alva Edison. With more than 1,000 U.S. patents in his name, he is credited with major advancements in technologies ranging from electric lighting to batteries, sound recording, and motion pictures. Of course, not every one of Edison’s experiments produced the results he expected. But how did he view his efforts? He once told a discouraged colleague that, even after literally a thousand failed experiments on one project, “I never allow myself to become discouraged… we had learned for a certainty that the thing couldn’t be done that way, and that we would have to try some other way. We sometimes learn a lot from our failures if we have put into the effort the best thought and work we are capable of” (“Why Do So Many Men Never Amount to Anything?,” American Magazine, v. 91, 1921, p. 89).
Before God called him into the ministry, our predecessor in this Tomorrow’s World work, Mr. Herbert Armstrong, was for a time a successful businessman—but, like millions of others, his business career collapsed with the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression of the 1930s. For a time he appeared to have failed in his endeavors, but God would still choose to use him powerfully. Later in his life, reflecting on his years of varied experiences, he compiled what he called “The Seven Laws of Success.” Countless thousands—perhaps millions—have applied these laws in their own lives and found success they never before imagined. In this article, we’ll briefly examine these seven vital principles that you can use to change your life!
The Bible tells us of one powerful man who explored the extremes of excess in his desire to find success. Israel’s ancient King Solomon was striving to experience life to the “fullest.”
Solomon was an engineer who designed irrigation systems and a musician who assembled choral groups and symphonic orchestras. As a king, he owned great treasures of silver and gold. He wrote, “I acquired male and female servants, and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces. I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men, and musical instruments of all kinds. So I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also my wisdom remained with me” (Ecclesiastes 2:7–9).
He even had 700 wives and 300 concubines. But did they give him success and lasting happiness? No! His wives eventually persuaded him to worship false gods, which brought a terrible penalty.
Through it all, Solomon retained his wisdom to consider what he had gained through his revelries. What did he find? “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor; and this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:10–11).
What about you? Can you learn from Solomon’s example and avoid his mistakes? Are you looking for the right kind of success—in the right places and in the right ways? Some of the seven laws below are common-sense principles, but many people seem to lack common sense! Maybe you are already applying four or five of these principles, but you may be surprised to discover the great benefits you will gain if you apply them all. So, let’s briefly consider each of the seven.
Goal-oriented people set long-term and short-term goals, and they commit themselves to doing all they reasonably can do to achieve those goals, setting aside any distractions and fleeting pleasures that may conflict with their efforts.
Israel’s ancient King Solomon achieved many goals, some of which gave him temporary satisfaction. But, as we saw above, he realized that those goals did not produce lasting value and success. He called his pursuits “vanity”—a “striving after wind” without lasting value. What will give you lasting happiness and true success? In this magazine, we share the true and priceless values revealed in your Bible. So, what is the greatest goal in life? What is your personal goal in life?
In Matthew 6, Jesus tells us that we need not worry anxiously about food and clothing. He reminds us that if God provides food for the birds of the air, He will provide food for His children much more. Jesus was saying that all the necessities we anxiously worry about are secondary to the most important goal of all. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Yes, setting the right goal produces true success if we follow all of the seven laws of success. And, dear reader, our short-term goals should help us advance toward our ultimate goal—the Kingdom of God!
What knowledge do you need to achieve your goal? What preparations must you make? If you’re choosing a career as a craftsman, you will likely need to work as an apprentice before you can become a journeyman. Many professions require at least a college education, if not an advanced degree. More than ever, we need to increase our knowledge just to keep up with our goals.
You should never stop learning, but you must also make sure that what you are learning is true. In the book of Proverbs, we read that true knowledge begins with an awe of and reverence for God as the Source of wisdom and knowledge. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7). And again, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
Are you growing in wisdom? Are you growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)? Our Savior is the key to true Christian success! To reach your goal, you need to educate yourself and prepare to achieve that goal, whether physical or spiritual. You need God’s wisdom and knowledge!
How healthy are you? Do you have energy and vigor to work hard and accomplish? Our modern environment itself may be detrimental to our health. We have come to expect pollution in our air, water, and food. It is often difficult to find high-quality food and pure drinking water—our modern diets are certainly not what God intended for human beings. Nevertheless, we all can and should strive to maintain healthy eating habits.
In addition to a good diet, exercise is important. The Bible emphasizes the spiritual dimension in our lives, but also calls physical exercise profitable (cf. 1 Timothy 4:8) and says that we have a responsibility to honor God with our bodies (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:20).
Other laws of health include maintaining a positive and tranquil mind and avoiding accidents. You will be able to achieve your goals with more effectiveness and efficiency if you have physical fitness. You may want to read our detailed booklet Biblical Principles of Health for more information on how you can develop the good health God wants you to have. You can read it online at TomorrowsWorld.org or order your own free printed copy from our Regional Office nearest you, listed on page 4 of this magazine.
Mr. Armstrong called this an “all-important” law. We need to put a prod on ourselves to move. The book of Proverbs gives us a powerful illustration:
Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep—so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man (Proverbs 6:6–11).
Proper rest is essential for health, but God warns against being lazy! The ant, in this case, keeps moving a little grain of food or sand at a time, and accomplishes much over a long period of time. We all need energy and purpose. We need to discipline ourselves to work effectively.
Think of this as the “emergency” law. Perhaps the road to your planned career or goal looks clear and smooth. But life often brings unexpected obstacles. You may suddenly face a financial problem or health emergency. What will you do?
Always investigate your options. What resources are available? What agencies or individuals might be of help? Of course, the first step in any serious emergency is to ask for God’s help.
When Jesus came walking on the water to His disciples, the Apostle Peter wanted to do the same. So, Jesus told Peter, “‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:29–30).
We often overlook the obvious when we’re in trouble. In this case, Peter quickly cried out for help. What did Jesus do? “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:31).
Ask God to save you out of your predicament. But be sure to do your part and search out all the resources available. Don’t just give up. Ask for wise counsel. “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22).
Always have perseverance—“stick-to-it-iveness,” as Mr. Armstrong described it.
During World War II, when the future looked gloomy for Great Britain, Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke on October 29, 1941 at the Harrow School. He inspired his audience to persevere, stating, “Surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished.” History records that the dogged perseverance of the British and their allies eventually brought great victory.
Those who respond to God’s calling are in a spiritual race as we persevere to our final goal. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Apply the sixth law of success. Run the race with endurance, or “patience” as the King James Version translates it, or “perseverance” as the New Revised Standard Version does. Never give up! Run the race of life with perseverance. As Jesus Christ promised us, “he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).
You may ask, “How can I have God’s continual guidance?” The simple answer is that you need to pray to Him—to acknowledge Him! Notice this wonderful promise: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6).
God promises that He will direct our paths and guide us through life to fulfill our human potential and ultimate destiny. But we must pray daily, and we must act on His priceless promises. “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6–7). As you begin to pray, as you begin to change your whole way of life to God’s Way of true success, He will forgive you through the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. God has promised that He will have mercy on you and pardon you if you repent and seek Him.
When you come to a crossroads, when you are faced with decisions, pray and ask for God’s will to be done in your life. He has promised to guide you and be with you. As Jesus promised us, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
As you apply these seven principles of success—and experience true successful living as a result—you will enjoy God’s blessings. God wants us to live happy, abundant lives, but far too many people make the mistake of seeking happiness as a goal in itself and become frustrated. True happiness is a by-product of something else, and a truly successful lifestyle is a godly lifestyle. When our lives have a meaning—a purpose—we find happiness as we pursue that purpose. And you don’t need to be rich like King Solomon to have true values and true purpose in your life. As author Dennis Prager wrote, “A loss of values and meaning are the two greatest sources of unhappiness.… poor people who have meaning can be happy, but wealthy people who lack meaning cannot be” (“Without Meaning, You Can’t Be Happy,” NationalReview.com, January 28, 2020). And what greater meaning can there be than to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matthew 6:33)? No success can be greater than that!
Dear reader, I encourage you to apply all seven of these principles of success. If you do, you will come to find the true, abundant life Jesus promised: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). That is the life God will give you if you commit yourself to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness.