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Consolation for the Average Christian

"Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic."



In August 1992, Reader's Digest published an article entitled "How ‘Average' People Excel." It related how "fast-trackers," people who succeed in school, often fizzle in the real world. Their main problem is that they are driven by their own inflated ego, and they set goals too high for themselves. They, more than anybody, understand how clever they are, so they are never happy with playing second fiddle to anyone. In other words, their pride is their downfall. The article, written from a purely secular viewpoint, had some very relevant thoughts that we may apply to the kingdom of God. Here are the keys to success found by a corporate consultant, after interviewing more than 190 "ordinary" individuals who had achieved secular success:

  • Learn self-discipline. This is the key to being successful as a Christian. Of course, we don't measure success in dollars as the world does; we measure it in terms of our lifestyles being pleasing to God. Self-discipline means that we read the Word daily and obey what it says. It means listening to the voice of our conscience and the voice of the Spirit. Self-discipline means self-denial. Consider Jesus in this respect. His ministry was a complete denial of self, from the temptation in the wilderness, to Calvary's terrible cross. He denied His own will, and disciplined Himself to follow the will of the Father, for the sake of the kingdom of God.
  • Bring out the best in people. There is nothing more pathetic than a selfish person. The Christian has crucified selfishness, and now lives to love his neighbor as much as he loves himself. The dividends are rich. He who loves others will be loved himself, and he who brings out the best in others will bring out the best in himself. Jesus lived and died for others. This is the key to successful relationships and especially to a good marriage.
  • Build a knowledge base. Think of Jesus when He sat as a twelve-year-old at the feet of those who could give Him understanding of the Scriptures. He grew in grace and knowledge of the things of the kingdom of God. We are commanded to give all diligence to "add to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge ..." (2 Peter 1:5). To do so is to enrich the Christian life.
  • Develop special skills. Our skills are not in the natural realm. We seek skills that will save sinners from everlasting damnation. We long to rightly divide the Word of truth as a skillful worker who need not be ashamed. We develop dexterity so that we might be sensitive to the voice of the Spirit, and so that we might speak a word in season to those who are weary.
  • Keep promises. A Christian always keeps his word even when it hurts him (see Psalm 15:4). His "Yes" will be yes, and his "No," no. If he says he will do something, he will do it if it is at all possible. In this way, he is following after righteousness, and simply doing what is upright.
  • Bounce back from defeat. I have had many failures. I have begun writing books that I have abandoned. I have printed tracts that I have thrown into the trash. I have floundered while witnessing. I have wasted money on projects that have failed. I have preached dry sermons, prayed pathetic prayers, and made just about every blunder one can make. When our ministry first started in 1974, we published a Christian paper called "Living Waters." On the back I ran a large advertisement with the words "Problems? Just call this number. You don't have to say a word ... just listen." The number was for a local Dial-a-sermon, and I thought it would be a blessing to those who found themselves needing comfort. Unfortunately, I forgot to include the area code and some poor woman in another part of the country began getting calls with heavy breathing on the line. People with problems called her and they didn't say a word. They just listened.

Most of us could write a book on flops, washouts, mess-ups, blunders, botches, duds, bungles, and failures, but who hasn't blown something in his life? Those who blunder the least are usually those who attempt the least. Steven Pile, the head of the "Not Terribly Good Club" of Great Britain, was forced to resign from his position when a book he wrote, The Book of Heroic Failures, became a bestseller. He couldn't even succeed in his position as president! Albert Einstein said, "Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new." Don't let the past limit you. With God all things are possible ... so strive to do what others think is impossible. Donald Trump said, "As long as you're going to be thinking anyway, THINK BIG."[1]

[1] Cameron, K., & Comfort, R. (2004). The school of biblical evangelism: 101 lessons: how to share your faith simply, effectively, biblically-the way Jesus did (pp. 658-661). Gainesville, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.