Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
Brazil’s soccer legend Pelé once said, “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” I guess he ought to know—he is regarded by many in the sport, including football writers, players, and fans, as the greatest player of all time. In 1999, he was voted World Player of the Century. He retired in 1977.
To be brilliant in one field of sport, you must know something about success and hard work. But I know people who lament the fact that they have never succeeded in anything—that they are failures. So, what does it mean to be a success in life? Is it really possible? I don’t know anyone who wants to fail in life. The opposite is the reality. We all want to live a successful life.
Everyone wants to have a happy, healthy life, do meaningful work, enjoy a career, and achieve financial independence. Everyone wants to make a difference in the world, to be significant, to have a positive impact on those around him or her. Everyone wants to do something wonderful with his or her life. To some, when they think of success, they imagine wealth; others want power; some just want to make a positive impact on the world. And somehow we admire those who have made an impact on the world. They leave a lasting impression.
There are few artists as influential as Michelangelo. Today, centuries after his death, his work still inspires and connects to people. His work is world famous. Just think of his statue of David, or the mural in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Imagine then, if he decided not to work as an artist—being a successful artist has always been extremely difficult. Imagine if he decided to give up this ambition in favour of something easier. Oftentimes, people often decide to put their dreams aside for something more ‘realistic’. To give up their dream for something easier.
What Is the Key to Success?
I heard about one man who was considered to be very successful and someone said to him, ”What is the key to your success?” The man replied, ”Good judgement.” They said, ”Well, where did you learn good judgement?’ He said, ”From experience.” They said, “‘And where did you gain your experience?” He said, ”From poor judgement.”
Something in that. Some of us think success is the gaining of fame or prosperity but that’s not always the case for most of us anyway.
Someone once asked Paul Harvey, the journalist and radio commentator, to reveal the secret of his success. He replied, “I get up when I fall down.” And it really is that simple. Nothing of value is achieved without hard work and persistence
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In the 1980s US Senator Mark Hatfield toured Calcutta with Mother Teresa and visited the so-called House of Dying, where sick children are cared for in their last days, and the dispensary, where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive medical attention. Watching Mother Teresa minister to these people, feeding and nursing those left by others to die, Mark Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her co-workers faced daily. “How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?” he asked. Mother Teresa replied, “My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am called to be faithful”. This saint knew what success was—in giving her life for the poor of India.
Norman Vincent Peale defined success as ‘the development of a mature and constructive personality’—a good definition. Matthew 6:33 in the New Testament (The Voice) says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you, too”. When you put God and his kingdom first, amazing things happen. Your focus moves away from self to others. You want to be linked to the greatest mission of all: to share God’s love through Jesus Christ with others.
God made you as you are with gifts, talents and abilities. Success in life means so much more if you want to be successful for him. God has given you something to develop. It’s your responsibility to take that and do as much as you can with it. Spend time in prayer, ask Jesus into your life, and pray for his guidance. Ask him to give you a good definition of success, and then apply it to your daily life—you won’t be sorry.