God Directs Achievement & Success

The Divine Basis of Achievements & Successes

By the title of this study, you have been made aware of the intended destination.  The emphasis here is on achievement and success.  What you don't know is how we will get to the destination!  As a general overview, this study outlines the pathway to the intended destination by examining background information, identifying a purpose of the study, offering a theory of achievement and success, presenting a context of achievement and success, applying the proposed theory to the context, and closing the case with an acknowledgement that achievement and success come by faith and obedience.  It is your job to evaluate whether the components of this study present a compelling case for the idea that achievement and success come from God.

Deborah Brown-Volkman wrote about achievement and success in this way—

"Are you waiting for career success?  Do you believe that if you wait long enough sooner or later your dreams of success will come true?  When it comes to success, you are better off spending your time working toward being successful than losing precious moments waiting for it to happen."

The larger idea embedded in Brown-Volkman's comments is success comes from activation of internal mechanisms.  It is your motivation and vision that provide the basis for setting goals, defining objectives, and working in earnest to achieve both valued and desired outcomes.  Perhaps Brown-Volkman may be implying that God has nothing to do with human success and achievement.  Alternatively, she may be implying that God has placed within humans the capacity for self-actualization.  One can never be sure about the underlying premise of Brown-Volkman's proposition; yet one thing is certain, Christians have a number of Scriptural assurances regarding achievement and success, including career success.

The purpose of this study is to examine the divine basis for achievement and success.  A definition of each term follows!  Achievement is something accomplished that took special effort and great courage.  The completion of a rigorous program of study or training such as SEAL training, where the "dropout rate is around 80-85%," is an example of achievement.  In contrast, success is attainment of one's goals or favorable end of one's endeavors.  If we stay with the SEAL training example of achievement, then one example of a successful career as a Navy SEAL is safe entry and exit from behind enemy lines.  I apologize for the warfare examples!  The focus of this study is NOT warfare; nevertheless, Ephesians 6:12, TLB & MSG makes clear that Christians are in a battle—

For we are NOT fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world.

These wicked spirits carryout their work by finding a host, a carrier, in human beings (Mark 8:31-33, TLB & NKJV | Luke 11:24-26, NLT & NRSV | Ephesians 2:2, TLB & NLT).  In addition to taking residence in human beings, "...Satan can disguise himself to look like an angel of light... [and] his servants disguise themselves to look like servants of righteousness..." (2 Corinthians 11:14-15, GNT & NKJV).  What then, is the relationship between spiritual warfare and achievement or success?  The apostle Paul would answer this way—"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:57, NRSV & NLT).  It is also true that God gives us victory in the form of achievement and success in areas other than the spiritual dimension.  The rest of this study takes a God-based view of achievement and success.

Theory of Achievement & Success
Theory describes how something works!  For example, a fire starts when three ingredients interact—oxygen, heat, and fuel.  Therefore, the theory of how to extinguish a fire states that putting out a fire requires taking away one or more elements of the fire triangle, which are inputs to the outcome we call a fire.  Similarly, achievements and successes require inputs!  Resources and supports must come from some origin in the form of INPUTS, which when acted upon by TRANSFORMATIONS or TRANSACTIONS, create OUTPUTS and OUTCOMES.  The diagram below shows the Inputs Transformations Output process!Sorry! The ITO image is unavailable at this time!We can think of either the OUTPUTS or the OUTCOMES as achievements and successes, and be so enthralled with them that little recognition, if any, goes to the INPUTS.  Paul described that tendency in Romans 1:20-21, TLB

Since earliest times men have seen the earth and sky and all God made, and have known of His existence and great eternal power.  So they will have NO excuse when they stand before God at Judgment Day.  Yes, they knew about Him all right, but they wouldn't admit it or worship Him or even thank Him for all His daily care....

The Psalmist, however, did NOT make that mistake of ignoring the source of all achievement and success.  His words continue to echo through the corridors of time in this majestic saying—

"Shall I look to the mountain gods for help?  No!  My help is from Jehovah who made the mountains!  And the heavens too" (Psalm 121:1-2, TLB)!

Moreover, Jehovah, the Creator and Redeemer, (Isaiah 43:1, KJV & CJB | Psalm 4:3, KJV & CJB), says—

"...I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  They are plans for good and NOT for evil, to give you a future and a hope" (Jeremiah 29:11, TLB).  "...O sons of Israel, do not fight against Yahweh, the God of your ancestors, for you will NOT succeed" (2 Chronicles 13:12, LEB).

Scriptural themes on achievement and success read this way—

"He will bless you as He has promised.  You shall lend money to many nations, but will never need to borrow.  You shall rule many nations, but they shall NOT rule over you" (Deuteronomy 15:6, TLB)!

"The Lord will establish you as His holy people, as He has sworn to you, IF you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways" (Deuteronomy 28:9, NRSV & NLT).

"...The Lord Himself will lead you and will destroy the nations living there, and you shall overcome them.  Joshua is your new commander, as the Lord has instructed.  The Lord will destroy the nations living in the land, just as He destroyed Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites.  The Lord will deliver over to you the people living there, and you shall destroy them as I have commanded you.  Be strong!  Be courageous!  Do not be afraid of them!  For the Lord your God will be with you.  He will neither fail you nor forsake you" (Deuteronomy 31:3-6, TLB & NLT)

"...Cling tightly to the Lord your God as you have done until now.  For the Lord has driven out great and powerful nations for you, and NO one has yet been able to defeat you.  Each one of you will put to flight a thousand of the enemy, for the Lord your God fights for you, just as He has promised" (Joshua 23:8-10, NLT & NRSV).

"...I have opened a door to you that NO one can shut" (Revelation 3:8, TLB).

"I have taught you the way of wisdom.  I have led you in the paths of uprightness.  When you walk, your step will not be hampered; and if you run, you will NOT stumble.  Keep hold of instruction; do NOT let go; guard her, for she is your life" (Proverbs 4:11-13, NRSV & NLT).

"Learn to be wise..., (Proverbs 1:7-9, James 1:5; 1 Kings 4:29; 1 Kings 10:24; Exodus 35:30-35; Proverbs 9:10, LEB & KJV), and develop good judgment, [a.k.a.—discernment, awareness, perception, reasoning, sharpness], and common sense, [a.k.a.—sound practical judgment that is independent of specialized knowledge or training]!  I cannot overemphasize this point.  Cling to wisdom—she will protect you.  Love her—she will guard you.  Getting wisdom is the most important thing you can do!  And with your wisdom, develop common sense and good judgment.  If you exalt wisdom, she will exalt you.  Hold her fast, and she will lead you to great honor; she will place a beautiful crown upon your head" (Proverbs 4:5-9, TLB & NLT).

"The Lord Almighty declares, 'If you will follow the paths I set for you and do all I tell you to, then I will put you in charge of my Temple, to keep it holy; and I will let you walk in and out of My presence with these angels'" (Zechariah 3:7, TLB & RSV).

"...This is God's message to Zerubbabel, '...You will succeed because of My Spirit, though you are few and weak'" (Zechariah 4:6, GNT & TLB).  "So take a new grip with your tired hands.  Stand firm on your shaky legs, and mark out a straight, smooth path for your feet so that those who follow you, though weak and lame, WILL NOT fall and hurt themselves, but become strong" (Hebrews 12:12-13, TLB & NLT).

The Scriptures speak confidently on the divine basis of achievements and successes because "...blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever" (Revelation 5:13, NLT).

Context—Facts or Circumstances Surrounding an Event
Under the leadership of Moses, God provided many assurances to the people He led out of Egyptian captivity (Exodus 12).  Deuteronomy 10:17-22, TLB has one of God's many assurances to Israel—

"Jehovah your God is God of gods and Lord of lords.  He is the great and mighty God, the God of terror who shows NO partiality and takes NO bribes.  He gives justice to the fatherless and widows.  He loves foreigners and gives them food and clothing.  You too must love foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in the land of Egypt.  You must fear the Lord your God and worship Him and cling to Him, and take oaths by His name alone.  He is your praise and He is your God, the one who has done mighty miracles you yourselves have seen.  When your ancestors went down into Egypt there were only seventy of them, but now the Lord your God has made you as many as the stars in the sky!"

Jacob's descendants could NOT take credit for the large number of people who came out of Egypt!  Examine God's role in Israel's growth as found in Joshua 24:1-3, TLB

"...The Lord God of Israel says, 'Your ancestors, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived east of the Euphrates River; and they worshiped other gods.  But I took your father Abraham from that land across the river and led him into the land of Canaan and gave him many descendants through Isaac, his son.'"

As the children of Israel were on the borders of the Promised Land, Moses provided instructions for the context of Israel's future achievements and successes!  His instructions, as recorded in Deuteronomy 11:1-8, TLB, read this way—

"You must love the Lord your God and obey everyone of His commands.  Listen!  I am NOT talking now to your children who have never experienced the Lord's punishments or seen His greatness and His awesome power.  They were not there to see the miracles He did in Egypt against Pharaoh and all his land.  They did not see what God did to the armies of Egypt and to their horses and chariots—how He drowned them in the Red Sea as they were chasing you, and how the Lord has kept them powerless against you until this very day!  They did not see how the Lord cared for you time and again through all the years you were wandering in the wilderness, until your arrival here.  They were not there when Dathan and Abiram... sinned, and the earth opened up and swallowed them, with their households and tents and all their belongings, as all Israel watched!  But you have seen these mighty miracles!  How carefully, then, you should obey these commandments I am going to give you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and possess the land you are about to enter."

"You will experience all these blessings if you obey the Lord your God" (Deuteronomy 28:2, NLT).  "In view of all this, what can we say?  If God is for us, who can be against us" (Romans 8:31, GNT)?

Application of the Proposed Theory to the Context
Let us put this scriptural theory to the test using historical, scriptural accounts.  "When you crossed the Jordan River and came to Jericho, the men of Jericho fought against you, as did the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.  

But I gave you victory over them.

I sent terror ahead of you to drive out the two kings of the Amorites.

It was not your swords or bows that brought you victory.

I gave you land you had not worked on, and I gave you towns you did not build....

I gave you vineyards and olive groves for food, though you did not plant them.

So fear the Lord and serve Him wholeheartedly..." (Joshua 24:11-14, NLT), for it is "...God who gives the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:7, NKJV).

Achievement & Success Come by Faith & Obedience
This study began with a quote from Deborah Brown-Volkman.  She wrote about career success in this way—

"Are you waiting for career success?  Do you believe that if you wait long enough sooner or later your dreams of success will come true?  When it comes to success, you are better off spending your time working toward being successful than losing precious moments waiting for it to happen."

Despite what Deborah Brown-Volkman said, Scripture says, "Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, and He will strengthen your heart..." (Psalm 27:14, NKJV & NRSV).  Why is waiting on the Lord great advise?  For starters, not everything comes instantaneously!  One example follows.

Abraham loved family and desired to start one of his own, but sometimes, you just have to wait because its part of the process.  Examine the unfolding of the process, which God implemented with Abraham.  "I will prepare a contract between us, guaranteeing to make you into a mighty nation.  In fact you shall be the father of NOT only one nation, but a multitude of nations!  Abram fell face downward in the dust as God talked with him" (Genesis 17:2-4, TLB & NKJV).  This is the response of a man who once asked God, "...What will You give me, seeing I go childless..." (Genesis 15:2, NKJV).  What is the take home message here?  Neither loose hope while waiting nor doubt when the outlook is bleak; for God is able (Genesis 17:17 & 18:12, NKJV & TLB) and will come through on everything for you that is within His plan for your life (Jeremiah 29:11, TLB & NRSV) when the time is right (Galatians 4:4 & Ephesians 1:9-10, NRSV).  This does NOT mean that you should be aimless because that would be contrary to the planning principle of Luke 14:18!  It also does NOT mean that you should be idle and wasteful because that also would be contrary to the productivity principle of Matthew 25:20-22!  How does one wait on the Lord for promotion, achievement, and success?  One prays and works intelligently (Nehemiah 4:9, GNT).

"Blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways" (Psalm 128:1, NKJV & RSV).  "The blessing of the Lord makes a person rich, and He adds NO sorrow with it" (Proverbs 10:22, NLT & RSV).  Achievement and success is always on the mind of God's appointed leaders.  This was certainly the case with Moses, who "...said to the Lord, 'You have been telling me, take these people up to the Promised Land.'  But you have not told me whom you will send with me.  You have told me, 'I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.'  If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor..." (Exodus 33:12-13, NLT & RSV).  God soothed Moses' concerns regarding achievement and success with this promise—"...I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you" (Exodus 33:14, NLT).  "So be content with who you are, and don't put on airs.  God's strong hand is on you.  He will promote you at the right time.  Live carefree before God; He is most careful with you" (1 Peter 5:6-7, MSG).  "The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him..." (2 Chronicles 16:9, NLT).  He "...will guide you along the best pathway for your life.  [He] will advise you and watch over you" (Psalm 32:8, NLT & GNT).  Under God's watchful eyes, "Every good gift and every perfect present comes from heaven.  It comes down from God, the Creator of the heavenly lights..." (James 1:17, GNT & LEB).

In view of this study, what divine assurances provide comfort in the competitive environment of this present world?  God will NOT leave you destitute if you trust and obey Him.  Live so that the presence of God goes with you whereever you go and in doing so, you together with the Psalmist can say—"I will boast of all His kindness to me..." (Psalm 34:2, TLB & CJB).  "My constant boast is God.  I can NEVER thank you enough" (Psalm 44:8, TLB & CJB).  Your existence is NOT an arbitrary occurrence!  Just as God gave "Pharaoh, king of Egypt, ...the kingdom of Egypt for the very purpose of displaying the awesome power of God against him, so that all the world would hear about God's glorious name" (Romans 9:17, TLB & NLT); similarly, God has placed you in specific positions through your life to display His awesome power.  "Wait on the Lord [and] be of good courage..." (Psalm 27:14, KJV).  And while you wait, "If you will only listen and obey the commandments of the Lord your God..., He will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall always have the upper hand" (Deuteronomy 28:13, TLB & NLT).