I once heard Bishop Tony Miller say, “Success is intentional”. He went on to explain that people who are successful sought success intentionally. We don’t really like the word ‘discipline’ but it’s something we need if we want to be successful or have victory in our lives. You can’t just expect that success will come to your life. You must do something to make success happen to you.
The Apostol Paul was a successful person. The Bible shows that he was a very disciplined person as well. If you want to be successful, you’ll need to have some disciplines in your life. In this teaching I’ll give three of them.
Let’s look at how Paul explained he was disciplined:
Do you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Success Is Intentional
Paul says that he wanted to win the race. Don’t we all? If we want to win, we must learn from Paul. He has given us many examples of what we should do to have success. If we want to win a natural race, then there are certain things we will have to do if we are competing with others. If you go to a 10KM race and you have never exercised or run that distance before, you won’t win. In fact, you will be crushed and hurting along the way.
Timothy was Paul’s spiritual son. Paul gives him some advice on how to be successful in ministry and life. We can learn from what Paul told Timothy.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
1 Timothy 6:10-12
Timothy was a new pastor and Paul was instructing him. He was telling him of things he needed to steer away from and what he should do. Paul gives us some clues on how to have success in our lives. Let’s look at three things that Paul tells us in these verses.
1. Flee: There are things we must flee or escape. 1 Timothy 6:11
Paul told Timothy to flee these things. If we look at the verse before it, we see that he’s talking about the love of money. We must flee from it. We can’t expect to flirt with the idea of loving money, we must break all love of money off our lives. Run as far away as we can from the love of money.
In other letters Paul mentions some other things that we are to flee from. If you want success in life and ministry, you must also:
a) Flee idolatry 1 Corinthians 10:14
Remember, idolatry isn’t just bowing down to or worshipping statues. Idolatry can be defined as anything that takes God’s place in your heart. Alcoholics have alcohol as their idols. Parents sometimes make their children idols when they allow their whole world to revolve around them and forget God.
b) Flee sexual immorality 1 Corinthians 6:18
Our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). Sexual sin is something we must flee far from. We can’t even flirt with it. When sexual immorality comes knocking at your door, don’t answer it or even ask who it is. Run from it! Avoid it at all costs! This is a sin that has destroyed many great men of God.
Paul said that he didn’t run with uncertainty (1 Corinthians 9:26). So, we can’t only flee. We can’t just expect that as we run these things will leave us alone. There needs to be a goal. We should run toward something.
2. Pursue: This requires discipline 1 Timothy 6:11
Here Paul gives Timothy a list of things that he must pursue. He says to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. With this list we won’t just flee aimlessly, we know what our goal is. Let’s run toward the prize.
Once again Paul wrote on other occasions what we should pursue. Before I tell you what the other things we should pursue I looked up the word ‘pursue’ in the Greek. One of its meanings is to ‘practice hospitality’. I love that definition. Let’s host righteousness, love, godliness, etc. Welcome them into your life and home.
a) Pursue peace Psalm 34:14; Romans 14:19
We are to seek and pursue peace. This should be something we want in our lives. Instead of adding wood to the fire we need to be people who bring peace.
b) Pursue Love 1 Corinthians 14:1
While we should desire the gifts of the Spirit, Paul encourages to rather pursue love. If we have love, we’ll use the gifts properly to bless the church.
c) Pursue what is good. 1 Thessalonians 5:15
This probably sums everything else up. We must pursue everything that is good.
d) Pursue Holiness Hebrews 12:14
God wants us to live holy lives. He didn’t die for us, so we could continue to sin. He set us free. We can live holy because of what Jesus did on the cross for us!
So that we are not just ‘beating the air’ these are all things that we should pursue. We should want these things in our lives. Make each one of them your aim.
3.Fight the Good Fight 1 Timothy 6:12
Paul’s last discipline to Timothy was that he must fight the good fight of faith. Paul said in his next letter that he had done it (2 Timothy 4:6, 7) In other words, this is a fight worth fighting for. Yes, we will have some struggles, difficulties will come, but we must continue to fight. Don’t let your guard down for a minute.
For Christians, giving up isn’t an option. We must want all that God has for us. We need to take these three disciplines to heart if we want to succeed. Paul compared the Christian life to a competitive race and a fight. Both these words describe a struggle and a pursuing.
Let’s flee from the things Paul said to flee from. Pursue what is right and fight the good fight of faith. As we do these things we will be headed for success. Let’s be intentional about it. No one got successful by accident.
Be willing to move forward! Decide today to put these disciplines in your life! God’s plan for your life is amazing so stay on track! Remember the only way you can fail is if you quit!
If you have enjoyed this blog, you may enjoy my book, Trusting God’s Timing. You can purchase your copy here.