Once we understand what success is, we still need to devise a plan to achieve it. Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong pioneered what he called the “Seven Laws of Success”—a series of steps, or guidelines, for achieving success in a biblically based and Christian framework. What are those laws?
Set the Right Goal
Successful people know that to accomplish anything of value, one needs to set goals. Unless you know where you are going, you will never arrive there!
Perhaps you have a specific career in mind. Learn all you can about the career you may be considering. And ask God to guide you. Remember Jesus Christ’s wonderful promise: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (Matthew 7:7–8).
And no matter what our short-term goals, we must always pursue them in the context of the right ultimate goal. Jesus told his followers that they should not become anxious about food and clothing; He said that if God provides food for the birds of the air, surely He will much more provide for His children. His point was that all the necessities of life, about which we humans so often worry, are secondary to the most important goal of all. As Jesus said: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
A Christian’s ultimate destiny is the Kingdom of God. In order to be successful, we must set goals. And to be a true success—in this life and for eternity—we need to set the right goal!
Educate (or Prepare) Yourself
What knowledge do you need to achieve your goal? What preparations must you make? If you are choosing a career as a craftsman, you will need to work as an apprentice before you can be a journeyman. And many professions require at least a college education, if not an advanced degree. More than ever, we need to increase our knowledge just to keep up with our goals. As God told the prophet Daniel concerning the end-time: “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase” (Daniel 12:4).
One should never stop learning. But make sure that the knowledge you are learning is true knowledge, and not false education. Scripture teaches us that true knowledge begins with an awe and reverence toward God, and an acknowledgement that He is the source of wisdom and knowledge. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Proverbs 1:7).
We find a similar instruction in Proverbs 9:10. “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
True Christians apply the second law of success by preparing for the coming Kingdom of God. Are you preparing? Are you growing in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18)? To reach your goal, you need to educate yourself and prepare to achieve that goal, both physically and spiritually.
Maintain Good Health
How healthy are you? Do you have energy and vigor to work hard? Do you have the well-being to accomplish? Our very environment may be detrimental to our health. We have come to expect pollution in our 21st century. We have polluted our air, water and food. It may be difficult to obtain genuinely organic food and pure drinking water, but we must do the best we can. You might consider starting your own vegetable garden. Our fast-food, high-fat, high-sugar diet is not the steady diet God intended for humans.
In addition to a good diet, regular exercise is important. The Apostle Paul told the evangelist Timothy: “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come” (1 Timothy 4:8). Again, the Bible emphasizes the spiritual dimension in our lives as priority. But we have a responsibility to honor God in our body as well as in our spirit (1 Corinthians 6:20). Other laws of health include maintaining a positive and tranquil mind, and avoiding accidents. You will be able to produce more effectively and efficiently if you have good physical fitness.
But we also need to understand our limitations, and do the best we can within them. Because of our physical limitations we may not always have the same opportunities to serve as others with different skills and limitations. Still, no matter what our physical limitations, God will provide ways in which we can serve Him, and serve our neighbors, effectively.
Mr. Herbert Armstrong called this an “all-important law.” He wrote: “You will always find that the executive head of any growing, successful organization employs drive. He puts a constant prod on himself. He not only drives himself, he drives those under him, else they might lag, let down and stagnate” (The Seven Laws of Success, 1974, p. 40).
Yes, we have to put a prod on ourselves to move. Scripture provides a graphic illustration. “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer or ruler, provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest. How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep; so shall your poverty come on you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man” (Proverbs 6:6–11).
Proper rest is essential, but God warns against being slothful and lazy! The ant, in this case, keeps moving a little grain of food or grain of sand at a time, and accomplishes much over a long period of time. We all need energy and purpose. We need to discipline ourselves to work effectively.
Mr. Armstrong called this “the emergency law.” Perhaps the road ahead to your planned career or goal looks clear and smooth. But life often meets us with unexpected obstacles. You may suddenly face a financial problem, or health emergency. What are you going to do?
Always investigate alternatives and options. What resources are available? What agencies or individuals might be of help? Of course, the first step to take in any serious emergency is to ask for God’s help. Remember the time Jesus came walking on the water to His disciples? The Apostle Peter wanted to do the same. So Jesus told Peter: “‘Come.’ And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, ‘Lord, save me!’” (Matthew 14:29–30).
We often overlook the obvious when we are in trouble. In this case, Peter quickly cried out for help. And what does it say Jesus did? “And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 14:31).
Ask God to deliver you from your predicament. But be sure to do your part and search out all the resources available. Never just give up. Ask for wise counsel. “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22).
Persevere Toward Your Goal
Always have perseverance—-stick-to-it-iveness. During World War II, when the future looked gloomy for Great Britain, Prime Minister Winston Churchill spoke on October 29, 1941 at Harrow School. He inspired his audience to persevere. He stated: “Surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. We stood all alone a year ago, and to many countries it seemed that our account was closed, we were finished.”
Those who respond to God’s calling are in a spiritual race to persevere. Hebrews 11 is called the “faith chapter.” It mentions successful men and women of faith. Chapter 12 encourages us to remember their example, and to look forward to the final goal. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1–2).
Apply the sixth law of success. Run the race with endurance, or “patience” as the KJV has it, or “perseverance” as the NRSV translates it. Never give up! Run the race of life with perseverance.
If you are going to practice the first six laws successfully, you need the vital seventh law. You need to seek God’s continual guidance. Billions of men and women may carnally be practicing some of the first six laws, but unless they seek God’s continual guidance, their efforts are but vanity.
You may ask: “How can I have God’s continual guidance?” The answer is that if God is calling you to understand His truth, you need to respond to that calling and seek Him. As you read your Bible, you will find priceless promises. Isaiah gives the following: “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon” (Isaiah 55:6–7).
As you begin to pray—as you begin to change your whole way of life to God’s way of true success—He will forgive you through the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. God has promised that He will have mercy on you and pardon you, if you repent and seek Him.
God gives us many promises of His continuing and loving guidance. For example: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5–6). God promises that He will direct your paths, and that He will guide you through life to fulfill your human potential and ultimate destiny. When you come to a crossroads, and are faced with a decision, pray and ask for God’s will to be done in your life. As Jesus promised us: “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
Finally, what is the right goal of a successful Christian? The right goal is the Kingdom of God! As Jesus said in Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
Can You Really Succeed?
True success comes at a price—but not the kind of “price” many might expect. As Mr. Armstrong wrote: “You can’t buy it with money. It comes to you FREE—without money and without price. There is a price, of course—your own application of these definite laws. It is not guaranteed to be the easy way—but it is guaranteed to be the only way to real success!” (The Seven Laws of Success, 1974, p. 10).
Can you really achieve success? As the Apostle Paul stated in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The Bible reveals the unseen, immutable laws of life. When we are in harmony with those principles and instructions, we are blessed. In fact, from the beginning of the Bible to the end, you will find that obedience to God’s way of life brings blessings, and disobedience to God’s way of life brings curses. The world’s criteria for success: possessions, power, position and pleasure—-only bring pain, suffering, failure and death. Those who define success as “getting ahead” of others, and engaging in selfish indulgence, will not only harm others; they will ultimately harm themselves. True success comes only through the Savior of the world, who taught us to love our enemies, lay down our lives for one another and live by every word of God. When we do this through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can live truly happy, productive and successful lives, because we will be helping others into the family of God, and into the Kingdom of God.
So apply all seven laws of success. If you do, you will come to find the true abundant life Jesus promised: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).