Strategy for Success
Recently I was asked to share my strategy for success at a Women’s Empowerment Seminar. Initially I thought to myself, what I will
say! Although I have been blessed to achieve much thus far, and I certainly maintain a plan for my endeavors, I had never been asked
to share how I go about pursuing the vision God has given me for my life.  However, after giving it some thought I decided to focus on
five practices that I have found to be critical to my success in the workplace and in ministry. Several of the audience members told me
that they were blessed by the presentation, so I thought I would share the information via this medium for those of you who may be
struggling with how to achieve your dreams.  

1.  Record the vision and inscribe it on tables, that the one who reads it may run. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it
hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come; it will not delay
. (Habakkuk 2:2-
3)

  • Develop a strategic plan.

Just as businesses and organizations develop a strategic plan, individuals can develop one as well. Although some people believe that
doing so reflects a lack of faith the opposite is true. Many accomplishments recorded in the Bible came as a result of planning.  Noah
prepared for the flood by building and populating the ark based on the plan God had given him. Nehemiah devised a plan to rebuild the
wall in Jerusalem. Joshua developed and executed a plan to enter Canaan. And Paul’s writings suggest that he planned his missionary
journeys. Rather than reflecting a lack of faith, taking the time to document your plan demonstrates your faith in the vision God has
given you and is a way to invite God to take control. Proverbs 16:3 says, Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be
established.     

Your plan does not have to be extensive but it should include your desired accomplishment and your short and long-term goals for
achieving it.  I have found that writing the plan helps me stay committed to it. It also provides a way to conduct a periodic review of
my progress. Most importantly, it provides a means of communicating with God about my progress. As I write I both share my
thoughts with Him and record what He says to me.  Where should you maintain your plan? I keep mine in my journal because that is
the tool I use for my daily prayer and meditation.  If you have always wanted to start a journal but do not know what to put in it, your
strategic plan would be a wonderful start. However, the important things is to record your plan in a place that is meaningful to you and
that you access regularly.    

2.  Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses (Romans 8:16)

  • Identify your strengths and weaknesses and assiduously develop them.  

My focus here is on interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, your ability to maintain effective relationships with others as well as
yourself.  Few endeavors in any area of life can be achieved without the ability to interact effectively with others. However, few people
have all the skills required to do so. Do you lack such interpersonal skills as empathy, patience, openness, or tact?  In other words, do
you possess the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22). These are the qualities that reflect godly character.   

I learned a great deal about myself during my years as a manager and as a deaconess, specifically the four years I served as chairperson
of the deaconess ministry.  And some of it was not flattering! Although I am gregarious and enjoy being with people, I found that some
aspects of the fruit had not fully ripened in my life. My behavior did not always reflect love, peace, longsuffering, etc. So I had to grow
in those under ripened areas.  The first step was acknowledging the need to improve.  Dr. Phil says that you can’t address what you
don’t acknowledge. The next step was to seek the Lord’s forgiveness and the help of the Holy Spirit, which He provided as promised.  

Similarly, achieving one’s dreams generally takes an appropriate sense of self confidence. Do you have a high degree of hardiness,
which is the ability to persevere and maintain a godly sense of self confidence in spite of setback and hardship?  Even with the best
made plans you will no doubt encounter some bumps along the way to achieving your goals.  However, you must be steadfast to
achieve what God has for you (1 Cor. 15:58).  Paul said that during the course of his ministry he was persecuted, perplexed, cast
down, and forsaken.  However, he recognized that despite the ups and downs he could do all things through Christ (Phil. 4:13).
Remember, God’s strength is made perfect in your weakness (2 Cor. 12:9)! (See my lesson on
Dealing on Low Self- Esteem for more
on this topic.)

3. Wise people store up knowledge, but the mouth of the foolish is near destruction. (Proverbs 10:13)

  • Determine what you do not know to achieve your goal and gain the knowledge
  • Be willing to do something you do not like in order to gain knowledge or experience that will benefit you.
  • Develop a network of individuals who are willing to share their knowledge with you.

In this regard I am speaking of more tangible knowledge and skills.  Most of us are naturally inclined to limit ourselves to things that
come easy for us. However, God often (if not usually) calls us into areas in which we may not be strong. This means we may need to
acquire some skill or knowledge in order to be effective. This can come from both formal and informal means. I certainly advocate
getting as much formal education as you can.  However, I also know that informal learning can be just as meaningful.

Much of my success as a consultant stems from my experience managing the budget for an information technology organization for
three years. I strongly dislike keeping track of money; however, I asked for the position because I knew it would give me greater
interaction with the managers and exposure to the technical operations. Both of these were goals of mine because I wanted
management to see me as something more than an “admin person.”  As a result, what I learned about IT operations and management
has proved to be the most valuable experience of my professional career.  Now 20 years later as a consultant in IT organizations I am
still benefiting from what I learned during those three years in a job I did not enjoy.    

From a ministry standpoint I believe my years teaching Sunday School prepared me for Pearl of Wisdom Ministry. When I expressed
an interest in teaching I had the teens’ class in mind. I felt that I could relate better to older children. However, the Sunday School
director assigned me to the class for first and second graders. I truly did not want to teach that age group, but reluctantly accepted the
class. Turns out I learned a great deal about the mechanics of teaching that I use now that I primarily teach adults. Although I had
received the spiritual gift of teaching, I still needed to develop sound teaching techniques to use the gift most effectively.    

As for establishing a network, identify people who can share their insights and experience with you.  Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron
sharpens iron.”  This means that we can help each other improve by our discussions, criticisms, suggestions and ideas. As an example,
Jethro provided Moses with sound advice to enhance his leadership. Similarly it is beneficial to have mentors or colleagues to consult
with regarding your plan.    

I have a broad network of people from who I seek advice for both business and ministry endeavors. My network encompasses men
and women of diverse races and backgrounds, whose values align with mine but who have knowledge, resources or insight that I may
be lacking. Their support is invaluable.   

4. For assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed you will say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will
move; and nothing will be impossible for you
. (Matthew 17:20)

  • Be optimistic
  • Do not let others determine your potential.
  • Learn from your mistakes rather than consider yourself a failure.

Most people who have achieved their vision will attest that they did so notwithstanding the doubts of others. Despite opposition from
his enemies Nehemiah succeeded in rebuilding the walls in 52 days. Paul at one time persecuted Christians but he readily accepted God’
s call on his life. And although many questioned his calling, he became one of the most prolific apostles.  From David's initial selection
as the next king (see 1 Samuel 16) to his fighting the giant, Goliath, while he was still a boy, David was often the unlikely choice, the
least of the candidates, the real underdog. Yet God continued to use him. David was both "a man after God's own heart" and prone to
sin (including adultery) like the rest of us. Yet he was genuinely repentant and went on to do many more great things for God. The
psalms written by David reflect what he learned from his experiences about God’s goodness.  

When I initially attempted to enroll in college I was 35 years old. I was told that I was too old to keep up with college students, had
poor reading comprehension, and lacked sufficient math skills.  In spite of this dismal assessment I graduated six years later with my
bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude). Three years later I received my master’s degree with a 3.8 GPA and five years thereafter earned
my Ph.D. God had given me the vision of earning a doctorate. After a brief period of sulking and feeling sorry for myself, I became
focused on the vision and determined to see it to fruition.

Similarly, when God gave me the vision for this ministry I initially questioned what others would think. Assuredly I have made mistakes
in my life. So I was concerned that others would say, “Who does Pearl think she is!”  However, I had to reach a point wherein I
wanted God’s approval more than man’s. This enabled me to turn my mistakes into “life lessons” that I could use to better walk in my
gifts and calling.

5.  In everything that you do, put GOD first, and he will direct you and crown your effort with success.  (Proverbs 3:6).

  • Maintain personal boundaries
  • Determine your values and make decisions based on them.

Life is full of choices, in both secular and sacred arenas. Thus, it is important to determine your personal boundaries and values and use
them as guides in decision-making. As Christians we know that some actions are just plain wrong and that we should refrain from
them.  However, many times we are faced with decisions in those gray areas. During those times it helps to have clearly identified the
beliefs and principles that you want to see reflected in your conduct and character.  

At the end of the day I want to be able to lie down, close my eyes, and have a good night sleep without fretting over decisions I made.I
have found that this comes easily when I make decisions based on my personal boundaries, even if the decisions go against
conventional thinking.  As the scriptures tell us that God’s thought and ways are not like those of man (Isaiah 55:8-9). I have learned
there are times when God leads His servants to decisions that they and others may question. My advice is simple. Trust Him!   

The peril of being unprepared!

The parable of the 10 virgins in Matthew 25:1-13 exemplifies the importance of planning and the consequences of being unprepared.
Five virgins were ready for the wedding banquet by ensuring they had enough oil for their lamps for the entire procession to the
bridegroom’s house. The other five virgins had lamps but not enough oil for the duration of the procession. They had to go searching
for oil, which made them late for the feast and denied admission!

God wants to his children to be successful in every area of life. His word demonstrates the importance of planning for success as an
act of faith. Yet, many Christians prefer to rely on “luck.” However, I have heard the saying that luck is when preparation meets
opportunity. Do not fail to be prepared when God brings opportunity your way!   
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