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FIRST-PERSON: Risk: the pursuit of success

EL CAJON, Calif. (BP)–How do you spell success? Much of the world spells it M-O-N-E-Y, or F-A-M-E or P-O-W-E-R. And that includes many Christians. Somehow, we have absorbed the idea from the world that if we don’t have money, fame or power, we are not successful.

If you are participating in the world’s rat race to accumulate money, fame or power as the gateway to success, may I encourage you to switch from the Forbes’ lists to another list of successful people? In doing so, you will learn how God spells success: F-A-I-T-H-F-U-L-N-E-S-S.

Hebrews 11 contains a list of people who were earthly, as well as eternal, successes in God’s sight. And not one of them is recognized for wealth, fame or power.

Abel offered a righteous sacrifice. Enoch pleased God. Noah obeyed God. Abraham trusted God. Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph kept alive the promise of God. Moses overcame his fears to obey God. Joshua conquered by trusting God’s Word. Rahab put herself in danger to serve God. Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets conquered, administered justice and turned weakness to power for the sake of God. Many others were persecuted and lost their lives in the process of being faithful to God, these “of whom the world was not worthy” (verse 38).

How did they obtain such a good testimony? It was not through success based on money, fame or power. It was success by being faithful: “having obtained a good testimony through faith” (verse 39). If I had to choose between being on the cover of Time magazine and being listed in Hebrews 11, guess which I would choose? Which would you?


Have you or your family played any of the varieties of the classic board game called RISK®? Since 1959, RISK has been enticing players to succeed at dominating the world through military strategy. The risk-reward ratio is not in your favor, but the most calculating and strategic of players can rule the world (or Europe, or Middle Earth, or the oceans, or the moon — depending on which version you play).

May I suggest a risk-reward strategy that is 100 percent guaranteed to make you successful in the eyes of God? Living your life according to the precepts of God is a no-risk route to success in this life and the next. And four key passages of Scripture explain why. I encourage you to read and meditate on each as you contemplate how God defines success.

— Joshua 1:6-9. Meditating on God’s Word day and night, being careful to do everything written in it, will bring prosperity and success. Strength and courage will characterize you as you walk through this world.

— Psalm 1. Delighting in “the law of the Lord,” meditating on it day and night, will cause you to be fruitful and prosperous. You will avoid the counsel of the ungodly, the path of the sinful and the seat of the scornful.

— Matthew 5:3-12. These “be-attitudes,” as they have been called, characterize the man or woman who is blessed and happy in this life. Humility, mourning, being meek, hungering for righteousness, showing mercy, purity, making peace, suffering for Jesus — these are what bring blessing (success) in God’s sight.

— Philippians 3:7-14. Leaving behind the world’s fame and power, Paul found success in pressing forward toward making Jesus Christ his all in all — and was exalted as a result.

I encourage you to consider these no-risk strategies for success in God’s sight. And should God bless you with wealth, fame or power, use them for His glory. As an example, former top runway model Kathy Ireland has traded in her Sports Illustrated swimsuits for her own line of modest clothing as head of her own multi-million dollar company. She teaches Sunday school, has written a book about her spiritual growth, plans a Bible study section for the company website and asks her employees to honor the Lord with their speech.

Whether your wealth and fame spread around the block or around the world, stay successful in God’s sight by making Him the focus of it all.
David Jeremiah is the founder of the radio and television program “Turning Point for God,” and senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in El Cajon, Calif. For more information on Turning Point, visit www.DavidJeremiah.org.

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  • David Jerremiah