One of the great demerits of the success, breakthrough and motivational emphasis of the last several years is loss of good value system in the church. Success has been taught to mean achievement, attainment and acquirement to the neglect of personal virtues. The focus had been on secular, ephemeral, immediate gain, to the neglect of the most important success of all-Personal Success. The results have been many people who are outward success but inward failures.
Today, there are many preachers and Christians who have gained worldly and material success, but who are secret slaves of sin, evil, ungodliness and spiritual nonentities.
A. Defining Personal Success - I Cor. 9:27; I Tim. 4:16
Personal success is the ability to lead yourself first. Mastering yourself, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and financially. Ruling and reigning over your body and passions. Having mastery of yourself. Conquering your heart and teaching it love, good manners, values and rejecting all negativity.
A certain emperor of a kingdom was walking at the outskirts of a city when he encountered a very old man walking ramrod straight in the opposite direction. 'Who are you?' The emperor asked his subject. 'I am a king', replied the old man. 'A king?’ Over what kingdom do you reign?' 'Over myself'! was the proud old man's answer. Yes! You are a monarch over your own life. You are responsible for ruling your actions and decisions.
B. Why You Must Succeed with Yourself first - Heb. 12:15-17
Your life is your ministry. Your life is where all your ministry starts from. Whatever you want to achieve, you will have to start from yourself first. Before you succeed with others, you'll have to succeed with yourself first.
ÜSuccess is an inside job - if you don't succeed within, you will never succeed without.
ÜYou have to win within first before you win without
ÜSuccess is who you are within
ÜTrue success is more of who you are than what you accomplish
ÜYou will either be your greatest assets or liability
ÜThe toughest person to lead is yourself
ÜIf you don't lead yourself well, you will destroy whatever you accomplish outwardly
ÜTo succeed outwardly, you'll have to succeed inwardly first
‘When we are foolish, we want to conquer the world. When we are wise, we want to conquer ourselves first’ - John Foster.
The only conquests which are permanent and leave no regrets are conquests of ourselves. Don't try to conquer the world until you've taken care of things in your own backyard - Napoleon.
C. Barriers To Personal Success
There is the story of the man who wants to change the world in his twenties. But nobody will listen to him. He tried in his 40s, 60s and 80s. He later learnt too late at 85 that the first person he should have changed is himself. Here are some obstacles to personal success:
a. Ignorance - failure to be properly taught
b. Wrong examples - Bad examples by leaders have derailed many
c. Failure to work on yourself - fear of pain, hard work
d. Refusal to grow and grow up - relishing babyish tendencies
e. Self-indulgence and pleasure - pampering and excusing your weaknesses
f. The desire to belong and join the Bandwagon - being like the Jones and Joneses
g. Emphasis on the seen and ephemeral - disdain for godly values.
The greatest crowd you will ever preach to is yourself. The greatest watchman in the whole world is the man that watches himself. If you allow these things to hinder you from leading yourself first, then you will make a shipwreck of whatever outward success you might have.
D. Examples of Judas and Paul
Judas and Paul were two men handpicked by Jesus himself. Each lived in a realm of revival. Each witnessed and worked miracles. But while Judas was a ministry success, he was a personal failure. However, Paul is an example of personal and ministry success.
Judas followed Christ and then brought
violence to his cause. Matt. 26:47-49
Judas forsook Christ for prestige and security
Judas was not able to overcome his past,
covetousness, sin and expectation.
I Cor. 9:27
Judas was carried along with the crowd in
the popularity of serving Christ.
In the presence of Jesus, Satan entered
into Judas' heart - John 13:27
Judas forsook his apostleship
Judas, through his betrayal became
unworthy of his apostleship - Acts 1:25
Judas died prematurely.
It is possible to be a ministry success but personal failure, just like Judas. If you fail to work on yourself and deal with those areas you are personally struggling, you may make a shipwreck of your calling. Failure to work on your personal failures while being a ministry success is like shooting yourself in the foot!
E. Leading Yourself Successfully
It is mandatory and crucial that you face the challenge of achieving personal success in these areas first:
i) Spiritually - become a giant, having depth, maturity and remaining stable and hot for him.
ii) Personally - your private life must be clean, transparent and no skeleton.
iii) Internally - all negativity, hatred, bitterness, envy, jealousy must be removed.
iv) Emotionally - freedom from lust, anger, wrath, immorality.
v) Mentally - prejudice, fear, wrong pictures and thoughts must not hang there.
vi) Socially - relate, get along with people, friendly disposition and rejoicing.
vii) Communicationally - truthfulness, honesty, simplicity and clearness, no lies or exaggeration.
viii) Changeability - changing from nasty behaviours and showing adaptability.
Your personal growth in these areas will help your ministry success. You must grow, change, improve and work these areas into your daily living. You must succeed here first before you can truly succeed in ministry.
D. 10 Ways to Achieve Personal Success
Daily fellowship with the Lord in prayer and His word is basic and primary. This must ever come first before anything.
2. Fight sin in your life - Heb. 12:3
Don't allow any vestige of sin in your heart and life. Pray, fast and confess the sins to God and leaders. Don't cover sin in your life. Conquer your besetting sins lest they bring you to open shame.
3. Focus on self-development - II Peter 1:5-10
Grow, develop and improve yourself. Be committed to spiritual growth and development. Let your inner man be stronger and bigger than your outward man. Improve in those areas you are weak and people complain about you.
4. Followership -I Cor. 11:1; Heb. 13:7
You must follow and continue to follow a godly leader. You must be accountable to someone. You must have someone you can be reported to. Don't be an 'almighty minister'. Be a good follower of the Lord and of godly leaders.
5. Allow the pruning of God - John 15:1-2
God will test, try and purge you, if you will allow Him. He would want to remove dregs and dross from your life and heart, if you will not murmur too much. If you are tender and responsive, God will deal with you, not to kill you, but to make you a personal success and blessing to others.
6. Self-discipline - Proverbs 25:28.
Self-discipline is the law of life while self-indulgence is the law of death. To achieve personal success, you'll have to break free from every vestige of self-life.
7. Embrace godly values
Your values will serve as your filter in every decision making process. Your value will add value to you and make you valuable.
8. Watchfulness and Carefulness - Luke 21:34-36
Watch your heart and life. Examine your thoughts and desires. Repent where necessary. Drifting and digression are easy without sentinel watch over your soul.
9. Take time to sit in His presence - Matt. 3:12
Many of us are too busy for our own good. You must take time to sit in His presence and let Him refine, renew, refresh and revitalize you. Your love must not wax cold and all negative attachments must be cut off from you.
10. Don't neglect your immediate family
Your success is incomplete without your nuclear family. You can only succeed with yourself when you also include your family in your plan and work.