Ancient Principles of Success
An ancient wise man once gave some advice to a young protégé that has value today. They are quite simple principles but, especially in today’s political and economic environment, seem refreshingly relevant. The four principles are:
1) Continue. That is, “Don’t quit—don’t give up.” I was speaking to someone the other night about a mutual friend who had “thrown in the towel” on an important endeavor. My friend sadly remarked, “There are some things you learn in two-a-day summer football practices in the South that stay with you and one of these is that you just don’t quit.” I remembered that, in the late 1960’s some 120 people tried out for my high school football team. After the infamous two-a-days, we had our team—about 40 players remained. The others had quit. A massive amount of people quit teams, dreams, marriages, churches, jobs, and most any other endeavor that requires commitment. To succeed, one has to determine to pay the hard price and to “continue.”
2) Be persistent whatever the outward circumstances. A couple of years ago, I told my wife, “I know why God won’t let me win the lottery.” “Why is that?” she replied. “Because I would quit,” I said. “You would not,” said she. I responded, “I would today.” But I didn’t quit on that day. Most days since then have been better, some have been worse. Ministers, like most people, are often influenced by signs of success—such as church attendance. If the numbers are high we feel successful and want to do what we do forever. If they are low, we feel like failures and want to run away and change jobs. The outward circumstances seldom remain constant but those who achieve long term success and satisfaction must continue to plow through regardless of what the day brings.
3) Be patient. Some things are just a matter of timing. A farmer learns early on that some things cannot be rushed. It takes as long as it takes. A friend told me that when he first began to ride a motorcycle, he thought he would never get it right. He had taken the three–day motorcycle training course but “every day for two weeks after the course, I thought ‘I just can’t do this.’” However, with patience and persistence, the skills and ability came and three years later he rides wherever he desires with ease, confidence, and skill.
4) Endure. Sometimes one just has to “gut it out.” Tri-athletes, long distance runners, a boxer going into the 10th round, the person filling out one more application or going to one more interview, a person going through one more chemotherapy or radiation treatment are among those who learn to endure the present difficulties while looking to the anticipated reward. Life can be hard but, as the saying goes, “What ever doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger.”
Who was this ancient wise man who gave such sage advice? He was the Apostle Paul and his young student was Timothy (2 Timothy 3:14-4:5). Church tradition says that Timothy learned the lessons well, became a bishop of the church, and, by foot and donkey, carried the Christian message as far as India. It takes courage to succeed in today’s world, as it did in the ancient era. Although times may have changed, some principles are simply timeless.
David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, 4881 Hwy. 34 E., Sharpsburg, GA 30277. Services are held Sundays at 8:30 and 10:00 a.m. (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.