During a much-needed break, my wife and I were sitting on the beach in Florida. Beach time is a great time of reflection and thinking for me. As I sat under my umbrella listening to the waves hit the shore and enjoying my Mountain Dew, several things came to mind that each of us must practice if we are going to find any measure of success in our lives. Successful people are not successful by accident. People who are living life with joy, happiness, and great fulfillment do so because of how they think and the actions they take. Here are eight things I jotted down on the beach that day that I believe will help anyone succeed and experience a fulfilling life, no matter what their circumstances.
1. Be a God-sized Thinker. Small thinkers get small results. Big thinkers get big results. But God thinkers get God results. Great thinkers have produced some incredible results. Small thinkers did not put a man on the moon. Small thinkers did not develop the internet. Small thinkers don’t think much and therefore don’t produce much. Big thinkers think much and produce much. But God thinkers produce eternal results. Small thinkers think about today, tomorrow, and themselves. Big thinkers think about the next couple of decades or even centuries, and they think about others as customers or consumers. God thinkers think about eternity and the impact he or she will have on it. God thinkers view people not as consumers or customers, but as God’s creation with a God-purpose. Therefore, God uses God thinkers for the greatest impact. New York City planners built Central Park in the 1850s when New York City had only a population of 590,000. Today, New York’s population is almost 9 million people. Big thinkers think big and beyond today. God thinkers think even bigger. Are you a small thinker, a big thinker, or a God thinker?
2. Be Genuine. Recently I listened to a podcast from a counselor who works with famous recording stars. He counsels these stars to separate their public reputations from their private reputations. At the end of the podcast, I realized that he was encouraging these artists to be one way at home and another way on the road. I certainly understood his reasoning but maintaining a double life can be exhausting. Success will come to us as we live authentic, honest, and accountable lives. James 5:16 mentions that we are to confess our faults to others. Jesus stated in Matthew 5 that our yes should be yes and our no should be no. The Apostle Paul said in Romans 12 that love should be genuine. Never be ashamed of who God made you to be. Live in your strengths and get help with your weaknesses. Double-mindedness does not lead to real success.
3. Be a Reader. There is an old saying that leaders are readers. But reading has many other benefits. On a purely practical level, people who read strengthen their minds on greater levels than people who simply watch TV or breeze through the internet all day. Reading strengthens brain function, increases vocabulary, reduces stress, helps with sleep, improves mental and emotional health, and lowers blood pressure. Second Timothy 2:14-15 reminds us to be diligent readers of God’s Word and avoid putting unprofitable information into our minds that brings ruin to our lives. We must be careful to allow things into our minds that move our hearts in a profitable direction. What you allow in your mind comes out in your life.
4. Be Humble. Humility is a critical part of success in our lives. Whether it’s in business, relationships, or recovery from an addiction, humility is required. No one truly succeeds in life without humility. Humility means to make level. Jesus humbled Himself and lived as a man among men. Jesus created mankind yet brought Himself down to the level of mankind in order to save mankind. Humility is when I lower myself so God can lift me up. Humility is the rocket booster to our success. The Apostle Peter stated in 1 Peter 5:6, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” No one can lift us like God can lift us, but He will not lift us until we come down off of our self-made platforms. The way to the top usually comes through spending time at the bottom while lifting others up first.
5. Be a Giver. Giving is directly related to humility. Humble people give to others in need. Humble people give to others who are not in need. Givers never lose. Never. Jesus was clear about this in Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” If you want to succeed in life, GIVE! Be generous with your money, time, resources, love, and kindness toward others. What you give, you will get back—but a whole lot more.
6. Be a Good Friend. Do you have 2-3 good friends who truly care about you? Few people do. We have lots of people we call friends, but will they call you out when you are messing up? Do they know when something is wrong even if you look and sound good. Proverbs 17:17 says that a friend loves at all times and is born for adversity. Proverbs 27:6 tells us faithful are the wounds of a friend. True friends are there when you’re not at your best. True friends call out your bad behavior and love you enough to correct you. True friends don’t tolerate sin and corruption. Good friends love you even when you’re ugly and will point out your ugly. Find these friends and hold on to them. They are critical to your success.
7. Be a Help. We all need help. No person is an island. No person will achieve any level of success alone. There are no lone rangers. Galatians 6:2 commands us to bear one another’s burdens. However, Galatians 6:1 suggests that we need to be alert to those who need help. We will always be in one of these states—needing help or seeking to give help. Most of us won’t ask for help, so we need to be alert to those who need help but won’t ask for it.
8. Be Behind God. The reason I fail is because I fail to stay behind God. God never fails. His path is never wrong. His ways never fall short. His resources never run out. Mine do. Deuteronomy 31:8 reminds us of this great truth, “And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed. God’s plan is to remain a step ahead of you. Let Him clear the path, knock down the walls, defeat your foes, and establish your plans. When this happens, success happens.
Todd Robinson is the Executive Director of Next Step Recovery Ministries and has counseled those in addiction and other strongholds for more than 15 years. Todd has a Ph. D. in counseling, and holds certifications in Addiction Psychology, Parenting, and Leadership. He is a retired USAF combat aviator and has been married to his wife, Cecilia, for 31 years.