Summary: God’s Word teaches us how we can be sure we will be successful in our life.
Note: This is the sermon manuscript that Ben carried into the pulpit. Feel free to use it in any way to advance the kingdom of God.
Questions For God:
What is the Secret of Success?
Englewood Baptist Church
Sunday Morning, Aug. 3, 2008
Today, I am continuing a series entitled Questions for God. In this series, I am dealing with pertinent questions that people often bring to door of their pastors. One of the most effective methods of learning, I am convinced, is question and answer. How many times in the gospels do we see Jesus answering questions? All the time. He was the master teacher and never made people feel silly for asking.
This week, a brand new high school graduate asks his pastor a very good question. He writes…
I just received my high school diploma and I am college bound! While I am excited about meeting new people and facing fresh challenges at the university, I have to admit that I am a bit anxious. I am afraid that I am going to fail and that I will miss out on all that God has planned for me. How can I be sure that I will be successful in my life?
Well, this is a marvelous question. It is one that we ask ourselves. I don’t a single person that wants to be a miserable failure in life. I have never met a young child that says, “When I grow up, I want to be a bum” or “I want to be alcoholic” or even, “I want to be mediocre.” Nobody thinks that way. Instead, as children we have these dreams lodged deep in our hearts—we use our imagination to picture what life will be like one day when we’re at the top. We never dream of failure, we never dream of depression. No, we dream of being successful and happy. We want to know the secret to success. But is there such thing as a secret to success? Isn’t that like the Loch Ness Monster—it’s something we talk about but it doesn’t really exist. Danny V. wants to know—what is the secret to success? Former Secretary of State Colin Powell once said this,
“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” --Colin Powell
Now in one sense, I agree with Colin Powell. If you study successful people, you will consistently find that they have prepared themselves rigorously, they have demonstrated an unmatched work ethic, and they have allowed failure to become their greatest teacher. To be at the top of your class or at the top of your organization, you must be willing to prepare hard, work hard, and learn from your mistakes. I agree.
But I would disagree with Colin Powell in this way. I do believe that God’s Word shows us the path to success. It’s not simple, but it’s there. The Lord has provided us a treasure map to peace. There are some basic instructions, some secrets, to living in God’s will. And I know this, when you are living in the center of God’s will—I don’t care how much money you make or people you manage—when you are walking in God’s will, there is joy, and peace, and hope. That doesn’t mean that aren’t some trials. That doesn’t mean that your annual income will surpass six figures. But what I am saying is, when you trust the Lord, he will lead you well. God wants to lead you more that you want to follow.
Look with me at Proverbs 3 — I want to lead you down the pathway of success. The key verses in this chapter are vv.5-6. Here is the promise that God makes to us. I want you to read it with me from this translation. Are you ready?
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight. Prov. 3:5-6
Alright now, that is the goal: straight paths. We want to reach a destination and we want to stay on the path. We want our lives to go somewhere, to mean something. We want to leave a God-sized mark on the world. So how do we do it. In the first 12 verses of this chapter, the Lord lays out some clear conditions that you and I must meet if we are going to be eligible to receive that promise.
When you go to the bank to take out a loan to purchase a home, you have to meet certain requirements before you are approved to carry that check out the door. There are some conditions that must be met. Well, in this chapter of Proverbs, God gives us clear instructions on what we must do to receive His direction. The first one is this…