I am a dreamer and visionary. I love making plans. I love schedules. Organizing makes my heart beat faster, in a good way. Let me rephrase that. I should say – I love reading, organizing catalogs, being in organized environments and shopping at IKEA.
While I have a great schedule plan and cool calendar app I often have a hard time sticking to either. Sitting on my shelf is an extra large 3-ring binder that contains a subject-by-subject outline for homeschooling my children. I spent three months one summer putting it together and I look at it every day when I rush out the door to pick them up from public school.
In spite of these quirks I have managed to get a few things right.
In the past eight years I lost 80 pounds of baby weight (three times). Together, my husband and I paid off $45,000 worth of debt and have managed to live happily on a family income that is nearly half the national average. In addition, after 20 years together, we still really like each other.
So how did we do it? I learned that every single success in my life always had three things in common: it was in line with God’s will, I worked extremely hard at it, and I didn’t quit.
1. Be In Line With God’s Will
Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed (Proverbs 16:3).
If you’ve been a Christian very long you’ve probably heard or seen this verse. It sounds pretty great right? It sounds as if you could do whatever you want as long as you’re convinced it’s for God. However, the reality is, the plans you commit to the Lord will only succeed if they are ultimately in line with his will from the start.
So how do we know what his will is? Christians often talk about seeking God’s will, but what we usually want is God’s direction. We want to know whom we should marry, where we should live and what job we should take? We want direction for the plans we are making. Certainly God has a plan and a purpose for each of us and that plan will always fall in line with his will. This is not a mystery. God’s is found in the commands he has already given.
Love God. Love Others. Bear Fruit. Make Disciples.
For me, being overweight was evidence that I was not bearing the fruit of self-control.
Our debt stemmed from a lack of patience and unwillingness to wait on the Lord. Could my family earn more money and elevate our standard of living? Of course, but that would require longer hours and take time from family and ministry. Today we live much more simple lives. We live like we do because we determined that God values relationships over an accumulation of wealth.
The decisions we made to change every aspect of our lives were out of a desire to be obedient to God’s will.
Doing God’s will usually goes against our own natural tendencies. It won’t be easy and you can bet that as soon as you start down the path of obedience, Satan will try to frustrate and discourage you. This brings us to our second ingredient.
2. Work Hard
The sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the desires of the diligent are fully satisfied (Proverbs 13:4).
Success does not just happen. If you want to be great at something even something you are naturally good at, your going to have to work at it. Dreams are great, but until you get off your butt and do the work, they will never become a reality.
Sometimes it’s not laziness that keeps us from pursuing our dream. It can be that we steer away from working at something because we really don’t have the skills. Don’t feel bad bout this. Odds are you are not the first, and will not be the last to attempt the challenge before you.
Find someone who’s accomplished the goal you are pursuing. Not only will they inspire and encourage you, but give you insight on how the Devil may try and trip you up. He’s crafty and likes to reuse old tricks. Someone who has been through what you are working at now will know what a trap looks like before it is sprung.
To dig our way out of debt we read Dave Ramsey’s book Financial Peace.
To help me lose weight I joined Weight Watchers.
A mom’s group helped me learn how to be a better wife and mother.
I connected with a mentor.
Each of these strategies contributed to my success, but filling my brain with information is useless unless I put it into action. I still had to do the work.
The work will be hard. Success will not come easily or quickly. You will have to stick with it, not just for a while, but forever.
3. Don’t give up
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9).
If I lost 80 pounds only to gain it back again would you call that success? Of course not.
To be completely honest with you I am still 10 pounds away from losing the last of my pregnancy weight, and my baby is three. The main reason I keep failing is that I start to notice some small success, and I start eating things I shouldn’t. I get lazy. I get tired. I give up. I give in and go out to eat.
Maybe you can relate? It’s easy to beat yourself up over failures but here’s something the enemy does not want you to know: If you’re still breathing there’s still time.
You will only succeed if you get up more times than you fall down.
Want to start a business? Work hard and don’t quit.
Want a healthy marriage? Work hard and don’t quit.
Want to raise Godly children? Work hard and don’t quit.
Want to change the world? Work hard and don’t quit.
What’s your dream?
What’s holding you back?
Get help, get going and don’t give up.
You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised (Hebrews 10:36).