How You Can Be Successful
JUST as parents care for their children and want them to succeed, so our heavenly Father cares for us and wants us to succeed. As an expression of his tender care, he has much to say about success and failure. In fact, when speaking about a person who pays attention to what God says, the Bible makes the bold statement: “Everything he does will succeed.”—Psalm 1:3.
If that is the case, though, why has a successful, happy, and fulfilling life eluded many? Taking a closer look at this psalm will give us the answer and will show us how we too can be successful.
“Counsel of the Wicked Ones”
The psalmist warns of the danger of walking in “the counsel of the wicked ones.” (Psalm 1:1) The chief “wicked one” is Satan the Devil. (Matthew 6:13) The Scriptures tell us that he is “the ruler of this world” and that “the whole world is lying in the power of the wicked one.” (John 16:11; 1 John 5:19) Thus, it is not surprising that much of the counsel heard in the world reflects that wicked one’s thinking.
What kind of advice do wicked ones offer? Generally, wicked ones disrespect God. (Psalm 10:13) Their counsel, which ignores or disrespects God, is all around us. Modern society promotes “the desire of the flesh and the desire of the eyes and the showy display of one’s means of life.” (1 John 2:16) The media bombard us with a materialistic “get all you can out of life” philosophy. Worldwide, companies spend over 500 billion dollars (U.S.) a year on advertising to persuade people to buy their products—whether consumers need them or not. And this propaganda has done more than simply change people’s buying habits. It has warped the world’s view of success.
As a result, even though many possess things that years ago could only be dreamed about, they still have an unquenchable thirst for more material things. The feeling is that unless you have these things, you cannot be happy or successful. This thinking is a lie and “does not originate with the Father, but originates with the world.”—1 John 2:16.
Our Creator knows what will make us truly successful. His counsel differs from “the counsel of the wicked ones.” Therefore, trying to gain God’s blessing while walking along the world’s path to success is like trying to walk on two different roads at the same time. It just cannot be done. No wonder the Bible warns: “Do not conform outwardly to the standards of this world”!—Romans 12:2, Today’s English Version.
Do Not Let the World Shape You
The world under Satan’s influence tries to appear interested in our welfare. However, we need to be careful. Remember that Satan selfishly deceived the first woman, Eve, to serve his own interests. Then he used her to lead Adam down the path of sin. Today, Satan also uses humans to deliver his wicked counsel.
For example, David, mentioned in the preceding article, was expected to work extra hours and to make frequent business trips. “I would leave early Monday morning and come back Thursday evening,” said David. Understanding that such sacrifices are needed in order to obtain worldly success, sincere friends, family members, and workmates urged David: “Do it for your family.” They reasoned that he would have to keep such a schedule for only a few years until he was established. David explained: “They rationalized that this would be better for my family because I could bring home more money—I could be more successful. Although I was not with my family, my friends convinced me that I was actually giving more to my family.” Like David, many are working hard to give their family everything that they think their loved ones need. But does following this kind of advice lead to success? What does a family really need?
David found out while away on a business trip. “I was on the phone with my daughter Angelica, who said: ‘Daddy, why don’t you want to stay home with us?’ It was traumatic,” said David. His daughter’s remark strengthened his desire to turn in his resignation. David decided to give his family what they really needed—him.
Applying God’s Counsel Results in Success
How can you counteract the negative propaganda so prevalent in this world? The psalmist tells us that the successful and happy person is the one whose “delight is in the law of Jehovah, and in his law he reads in an undertone day and night.”—Psalm 1:2.
When God appointed Joshua as leader of the nation of Israel, he was told: “You must in an undertone read in [God’s Word] day and night.” Yes, reading and meditating on God’s Word was essential, but Joshua also needed to “take care to do according to all that [was] written in it.” Of course, Bible reading in itself will not magically make you successful. You must apply what you read. Joshua was told: “Then you will make your way successful and then you will act wisely.”—Joshua 1:8.
Picture a smiling child sitting on the lap of a loving parent as together they read a favorite story. No matter how many times they have read it before, they treasure such precious moments. Likewise, a person who loves God finds daily Bible reading to be a delightful experience—an agreeable time spent with his heavenly Father. By following Jehovah’s counsel and guidance, such a person becomes “like a tree planted by streams of water, that gives its own fruit in its season and the foliage of which does not wither, and everything he does will succeed.”—Psalm 1:3.
The tree that is described by the psalmist does not spring up by accident. It is carefully placed by a water source and cared for by the farmer. In a similar way, our heavenly Father adjusts and corrects our thinking through the counsel found in the Scriptures. As a result, we flourish and produce godly fruitage.
However, “the wicked are not like that.” True, it may appear that they prosper for a time, but ultimately they have a bad outcome. They “will not stand up in the judgment.” Instead, “the very way of wicked ones will perish.”—Psalm 1:4-6.
So do not let the world shape your goals and values. While you may be talented and have the potential to attain success in this world, be careful how you use your talents or how you let the world use them. Fruitless, materialistic pursuits can cause a person to “wither.” On the other hand, having a good relationship with God results in true success and happiness.
How You Can Be Successful
Why is it that when a person follows God’s counsel, everything he does will succeed? The psalmist was not speaking about success in this world. The success of a godly person is linked to his doing God’s will—and God’s will is always successful. Let us see how applying Bible principles can make you successful.
Family: The Scriptures admonish husbands to “be loving their wives as their own bodies,” and a Christian wife is directed to “have deep respect for her husband.” (Ephesians 5:28, 33) Parents are encouraged to spend time with their children, to laugh with them, and to teach them about the important things in life. (Deuteronomy 6:6, 7; Ecclesiastes 3:4) God’s Word also counsels parents: “Do not be irritating your children.” When this counsel is applied, it is easier for children to “be obedient to [their] parents” and to “honor [their] father and [their] mother.” (Ephesians 6:1-4) Following this divine counsel can result in a successful family life.
Friends: Most people want friends. We have the mental and emotional capacity to love and be loved. Jesus told his followers that they should “love one another.” (John 13:34, 35) Among them, we find friends whom we can love and trust—even with our deepest thoughts and feelings. (Proverbs 18:24) Best of all, by applying Bible principles, we can “draw close to God” and, like Abraham, even be called “Jehovah’s friend.”—James 2:23; 4:8.
Purpose in Life: Rather than having an aimless day-to-day existence, those who are truly successful find meaning and purpose in life. Their life is not founded on the unstable conditions of this system of things. Their goals lead to real and lasting satisfaction, as they are centered on the very purpose of life. What gives one purpose in life? “Fear the true God and keep his commandments. For this is the whole obligation of man.”—Ecclesiastes 12:13.
Hope: Having God as our Friend also gives us hope for the future. The apostle Paul urged Christians “to rest their hope, not on uncertain riches, but on God.” In this way, they would be “safely treasuring up for themselves a fine foundation for the future, in order that they may get a firm hold on the real life.” (1 Timothy 6:17-19) This real life will come about soon when God’s heavenly Kingdom restores Paradise to this earth.—Luke 23:43.
If you apply Bible principles, you will not be immune to problems, but you will be spared much of the heartache and grief that the wicked bring upon themselves. David, mentioned earlier, and millions like him have learned the value of applying Bible principles in their life. After finding a job with a suitable schedule, David said: “I’m grateful for my relationship with my wife and children as well as for the privilege of being able to serve Jehovah God as a congregation elder.” No wonder the psalm says about a person who pays attention to God’s counsel: “Everything he does will succeed”!
[Chart on page 6]
FIVE STEPS TO SUCCESS
1 Resist being shaped by the values of this world.
2 Read and meditate on God’s Word daily.
3 Apply Bible counsel in your life.
4 Make God your friend.
5 Fear the true God, and keep his commandments.
[Pictures on page 7]
Are you following the steps to success?