SUCCESS IS defined as the achievement of something desired, planned or attempted, and it is usually understood that the achievement is something good. For example, most people would not consider a bank robber who eludes capture a success. Some synonyms to success are happy outcome, triumph and fulfillment; and some antonyms are failure, disaster, downfall and collapse. The word “key” as used in our title is defined as a vital, crucial element. People speak of success in marriage, family, education, career, business, finances, sports, something personal, etc. Sometimes success is measurable, for example, one might be considered a success in education upon earning a doctor’s degree. At other times success cannot be measured, but is somewhat subjective.
The “success industry” has become a multi-billion dollar enterprise. Millions of people seek out professionals in the attempt to become successful in a certain area or areas of their lives. Dating services, marriage and family counseling, 12-step groups, career and financial planners, physical trainers and sports psychologists are a few examples of services sought out by people seeking success in their lives. Billions of dollars are spent on books, tapes and seminars to achieve success. Of course, in many cases the success sought proves to be elusive.
What mankind really desires is human perfection, something that only God’s Kingdom will be able to bring about (Romans 8: 19). We are living in the Epiphany period of our Lord’s Second Presence, in which man is desiring his rights and liberties, both real and imagined. The world is waking up, but the time for the Kingdom is not yet. In the meantime God is preparing both His people and the world for Christ’s Mediatorial Reign.
Let us now discuss Christian success, and seven keys, or elements, that will help us to be successful in our Christian lives. We are not claiming that these seven keys are exclusive, nor necessarily the seven most important keys, but they are essential for success. Incidentally, these seven keys are also essential for those seeking success in the world:
(1.) The first key is belief. This element enables one to believe in and be assured of success. For example, the owner of a business must believe in his company, his products, his mentor(s) and himself. He must also have a positive attitude. At one time it was thought impossible for anyone to run a mile in less than four minutes, that is, until a young British runner named Roger Bannister accomplished that feat in 1954. Since that time, runners have run the mile in less than four minutes tens of thousands of times. Likewise, the Christian must believe in God, Christ and Their Word, spirit and providences (Hebrews 11: 6). They must additionally have a certain degree of self-esteem. The world’s definition of self-esteem would say: We are capable of being or doing anything that we desire to be or to do. But the Christian’s definition of self-esteem would say: We are capable of being or doing anything that God desires us to be or to do (Philippians 4: 13).
(2.) The second key is that one must have a goal, a purpose, or objective, toward which an endeavor is directed. Various guidelines should be utilized when making goals: (1) One must determine whether the goal is possible or not; (2) one must determine his values and motives in selecting a goal; (3) one must desire the goal; (4) one must determine the steps necessary to reach the goal; (5) one must determine the time frame needed to accomplish the goal; (6) one should put the goal in writing; and (7) one should share the goal with others. The Christian grace which is related to this element is hope, which may be defined as the quality of heart and mind whereby one desires and expects some future good. This key is essential, whether it is a worldly person seeking worldly success, or whether it is a Christian seeking Christian success.
(3.) The third key is knowledge, which provides the “how to” and the strategies needed to be successful. One needs knowledge in order to build a successful business or a good house. Christian success is dependent upon knowledge, especially a knowledge of God’s will. He receives this knowledge from our Lord, whom God has provided to be his Teacher and the Interpreter of His Word. He has been given the Bible, which is his handbook. He is expected to study (2 Timothy 2: 15), so that he may come to understand God’s Plan in both its simple and its deeper features. It is especially important to come to a knowledge of God and Christ (John 17: 3). He is to eventually become proficient enough in the Word so that he may be able to teach others (2 Timothy 2: 24), and to give a reason for the hope which he has (1 Peter 3: 15).
(4.) The fourth key is passion, which is an ardent enthusiasm, full of spirit and energy, an important element needed to attain worldly and Christian success. The Christian grace related to this element is zeal, which may be defined as an ardent devotion to persons, principles, causes and things, expressing itself in enthusiastic activities on their behalf (Galatians 4: 18). The Christian needs zeal, the energy to help further God’s Plan. In fact, one’s loving zeal will determine the degree of one’s reward in God’s Kingdom.
(5.) The fifth key is action. Whether one is seeking to build a successful business or a good house, without taking action, success is impossible. We all learn by doing, for practice gives skill. No doubt we have all heard the saying that there is no substitute for experience. Action requires a strong will. A weak will only leaves us wishing, rather than taking action. The Christian’s action involves his spreading and practicing God’s Word. Action is required in order to make one’s calling and election sure, to edify the brethren and to witness to the world. Some helpful Scriptures are the following: (Ecclesiastics 9: 10) (1 Corinthians 9: 24-27) (James 1: 22) (1 Peter 3: 15).
(6.) The sixth key is persistence, which is the element that enables one to continue to work despite obstacles. How many give up an endeavor, such as building a successful business, when confronted with obstacles. One needs to take the attitude: “I will not be denied.” Winston Churchill once gave a college commencement address which included only eight words: “Never give up, never, never, never give up.” The Christian grace related to this element is patience, which is defined as the strength of character whereby through steadfastness amid obstacles which are cheerfully endured, one presses on and reinforces self-control in well-doing (Philippians 3: 8).
(7.) The final key is loyalty, which is the element that makes one reliable. A good employer will value a loyal employee very highly. Someone once said: “I almost want to say, loyalty is everything.” God expects His people to be loyal, to be faithful. Faithfulness is a universal grace, and may be defined as the quality of character whereby one, despite all difficulties, perseveringly exercises loyal devotion to truth and righteousness and to the persons to whom and the principles and/or things to which he has obligated himself. Some helpful passages are the following: (Luke 16: 10) (Revelation 2: 10) (Matthew 24: 12, 13) (2 Timothy 4: 7, 8).
Developing good habits have much to do with success in worldly pursuits and for the Christian. The following describes this well for the Christian: “Sow a thought and reap a motive, sow a motive and reap a word, sow a word and reap an act, sow an act and reap a habit, sow a habit and reap a character, sow a character and reap a destiny.
Let us sum up the seven keys to Christian success: (1) believe and trust in the Lord; (2) keep our eye on the goal; (3) live close to His Word; (4) have a fire in our bones; (5) do with our might what our hands find to do; (6) persevere through good times and bad; and (7) endure to the end, and successful we’ll be.
Let us close by quoting a relevant passage of Scripture, Psalm 37: 3-5: “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”