The figure of the Crucified invalidates all thought which takes success for its
Someone once asked Paul Harvey, the journalist and radio commentator, to reveal the
secret of his success. "I get up when I fall down," said Harvey.
Bits & Pieces, March 3, 1994, p. 16.
George MacDonald said, "In whatever man does without God, he must fail miserably
or succeed more miserably"
Warren W. Wiersbe, The Integrity Crisis, Thomas Nelson
Publishers, 1991, p. 42.
When James Garfield (later President of the U.S.) was principal of Hiram College in
Ohio, a father asked him if the course of study could be simplified so that his son might
be able to go through by a shorter route. "Certainly," Garfield replied.
"But it all depends on what you want to make of your boy. When God wants to make an
oak tree, He takes a hundred years. When He wants to make a squash he requires only two
We are producing too many squashes and not enough oak trees in our day.
Angus J. MacQueen.
In 1966, about a year before he died, the brilliant physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer
said, "I am a complete failure!" This man had been the director of the Los
Alamos Project, a research team that produced the atomic bomb, and he had also served as
the head of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Yet, in looking back, he saw
his achievements as meaningless. When asked about them, he replied, "They leave on
the tongue only the taste of ashes."
The number of people who commit suicide after experiencing the fame and fortune of
worldly success is astonishing. Multimillionaire George Vanderbilt killed himself by
jumping from a hotel window. Lester Hunt, twice governor of Wyoming before being elected
to the U.S. Senate, ended his own life. Actress Marilyn Monroe, writer Ernest Hemingway,
and athlete Tony Lazzeri represent a host of highly influential and popular people who
became so disenchanted with earthly success that they took their own lives.
Our Daily Bread.
In his book Be Free, Warren W. Wiersby mentioned the fact that young ministers often
visited the great British preacher G. Campbell Morgan to ask him the secret of his
success. When someone inquired of him what he told these aspiring pastors, Morgan replied,
"I always say to them the same thing -- work; hard work; and again, work!" And
Morgan lived up to his own advice. He would be in his study every morning at 6 o'clock,
finding rich treasures out of his Bible to pass on to God's people.
Our Daily Bread.
To succeed in life you need not only initiative, but also finishiative.
Zaida Jones Blaine in Chicago Tribune.
The London firemen's strike of 1978 made possible one of the great animal rescue
attempts of all time. Valiantly, the British Army had taken over emergency fire fighting
and on January 14 they were called out by an elderly lady in South London to retrieve her
cat which had become trapped up a tree. They arrived with impressive haste and soon
discharged their duty. So grateful was the lady that she invited them all in for tea.
Driving off later, with fond farewells completed, they ran over the cat and killed it.
Campus Life, September, 1980.
The secret of success is to do the common things uncommonly well.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Clarence Jordan was a man of unusual abilities and commitment. He had two Ph.D.s, one
in agriculture and one in Greek and Hebrew. So gifted was he, he could have chosen to do
anything he wanted. He chose to serve the poor. In the 1940s, he founded a farm in
Americus, Georgia, and called it Koinonia Farm. It was a community for poor whites and
poor blacks. As you might guess, such an idea did not go over well in the Deep South of
Ironically, much of the resistance came from good church people who followed the laws
of segregation as much as the other folk in town. The town people tried everything to stop
Clarence. They tried boycotting him, and slashing workers' tires when they came to town.
Over and over, for fourteen years, they tried to stop him.
Finally, in 1954, the Ku Klux Klan had enough of Clarence Jordan, so they decided to
get rid of him once and for all. They came one night with guns and torches and set fire to
every building on Koinonia Farm but Clarence's home, which they riddled with bullets. And
they chased off all the families except one black family which refused to leave. Clarence
recognized the voices of many of the Klansmen, and, as you might guess, some of them were
church people. Another was the local newspaper's reporter. The next day, the reporter came
out to see what remained of the farm. The rubble still smoldered and the land was
scorched, but he found Clarence in the field, hoeing and planting.
"I heard the awful news," he called to Clarence, "and I came out to do a
story on the tragedy of your farm closing. Clarence just kept on hoeing and planting. The
reporter kept prodding, kept poking, trying to get a rise from this quietly determined man
who seemed to be planting instead of packing his bags. So, finally, the reporter said in a
haughty voice, "Well, Dr. Jordan, you got two of them Ph.D.s and you've but fourteen
years into this farm, and there's nothing left of it at all. Just how successful do you
think you've been?" Clarence stopped hoeing, turned toward the reporter with his
penetrating blue eyes, and said quietly but firmly, "About as successful as the
cross. Sir, I don't think you understand us. What we are about is not success but
faithfulness. We're staying. Good day."
Beginning that day, Clarence and his companions rebuilt Koinonia and the farm is going
Holy Sweat, Tim Hansel, 1987, Word Books Publisher,
Mark Hatfield tells of touring Calcutta with Mother Teresa and visiting the so-called
"House of Dying," where sick children are cared for in their last days, and the
dispensary, where the poor line up by the hundreds to receive medical attention. Watching
Mother Teresa minister to these people, feeding and nursing those left by others to die,
Hatfield was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the suffering she and her co-workers
face daily. "How can you bear the load without being crushed by it?" he asked.
Mother Teresa replied, "My dear Senator, I am not called to be successful, I am
called to be faithful."
Beals, Beyond Hunger.
Dan Crawford (1870-1926) spent most of his adult life serving as a missionary in
Africa. When it was time to return home to Britain, Carwford described to an old Bantu the
kind of world he was about to return to. He told him about ships that ran under the water,
on the water, and even those that flew above the water. He described English houses with
all of their conveniences, such as running water and electric lights. Then Crawford waited
for the old African to register his amazement. "Is that all, Mr. Crawford?" the
aged man asked. "Yes, I think it is," Crawford replied. Very slowly and very
gravely, the old Bantu said, "Well, Mr. Crawford, you know, that to be better off is
not to be better."
W. Wiersbe, The Wycliffe Handbook of Preaching &
Cathy Rigby was a member of the U.S. Women's Gymnastics Team in the 1972 Olympics at
Munich, and she had only one goal in mind--to win a gold medal. She had trained hard over
a long period. On the day she was scheduled to perform, she prayed for the strength and
the control to get through her routine without making mistakes. She was tense with
determination not to let herself or her country down. She performed well, but when it was
all over and the winners were announced, her name was not among them. Cathy was crushed.
Afterward, she joined her parents in the stands all set for a good cry. As she sat down,
she could barely manage to say, "I'm sorry. I did my best." "You know that,
and I know that," her mother said, "and I'm sure God knows that too." Then,
Cathy recalls, her mother said 10 words that she has never forgotten: "Doing your
best is more important than being the best."
Soundings, Vol D, # 7, pp. 1-2.
In the spring of 1883 two young men graduated from medical school. The two differed
from one another in both appearance and ambition. Ben was short and stocky. Will was tall
and thin. Ben dreamed of practicing medicine on the East Coast. will wanted to work in a
rural community. Ben begged his friend to go to New York where they could both make a
fortune. Will refused. His friend called him foolish for wanting to practice medicine in
the Midwest. "But," will said, "I want first of all to be a great
surgeon...the very best, if I have the ability." Years later the wealthy and powerful
came from around the world to be treated by Will at his clinic...the Mayo Clinic.
Today in the Word, July, 1990, p. 17.
What is success? In my book, one ingredient of success is meaningful time with my
children. As a friend of mine observed, "I have yet to hear of anyone who, on his
deathbed, wished he'd spent more time at the office."
Joseph Stowell, Moody Monthly.
The story is told of a new bank president who met with his predecessor and said,
"I would like to know what have been the keys to your success." The older
gentleman looked at him and replied, "Young man, I can sum it up in two words: Good
decisions." To that the young man responded, "I thank you immensely for that
advice, sir, but how does one come to know which are the good decisions?" "One
word, young man," replied the sage. "Experience." "That's all well and
good," said the younger, "but how does one get experience?" "Two
words," said the elder. "Bad decisions."
Today In The Word, November, 1989, p.23.
John Milton was a failure. In writing Paradise Lost, his aim was to "justify the
ways of God to men." Inevitably, he fell short and wrote only a monumental poem.
Beethoven, whose music was conceived to transcend fate, was a failure, as was Socrates,
whose ambition was to make people happy by making them reasonable and just. The surest,
noblest way to fail is to set one's standards titanically high. The flip side of that
proposition also seems true. The surest way to succeed is to keep one's striving low. Many
people, by external standards, will be "successes." They will own homes, eat in
better restaurants, dress well and, in some instances, perform socially useful work. Yet
fewer people are putting themselves on the line, making as much of their minds and talents
as they might. Frequently, success is what people settle for when they can't think of
something noble enough to be worth failing at.
Laurence Shames, in the New York Times, quoted in Feb. 1990
Alexander the Great was not satisfied, even when he had completely subdued the nations.
He wept because there were no more worlds to conquer, and he died at an early age in a
state of debauchery. Hannibal, who filled three bushels with the gold rings taken from the
knights he had slaughtered, committed suicide by swallowing poison. Few noted his passing,
and he left this earth completely unmourned. Julius Caesar, 'staining his garments in the
blood of one million of his foes,' conquered 800 cities, only to be stabbed by his best
friends at the scene of his greatest triumph. Napoleon, the feared conqueror, after being
the scourge of Europe, spent his last years in banishment.
G. S. Bowes.
A popular singer who recently went from rags to riches was quoted as saying, "I
still don't understand it. If you don't have any time for yourself, any time to hunt or
fish, that's success."
Bits & Pieces, November, 1989, p. 18.
General Mark Clark was one of the great heroes of WWII. He led the Salerno invasion
that Winston Churchill said was "the most daring amphibious operation we have
launched, or which, I think, has ever been launched on a similar scale in war." At
the time Clark was promoted to Lt. General, he was the youngest man of that rank in the
U.S. Army. He graduated from West Point in 1917. At the top of his class? Nope. He was
111th from the top in a class of 139! Even if you never earned a college degree, don't
worry, you're in good company. Irving Berlin, for instance, only had two years of formal
schooling. He never learned how to read music. When he composed his songs, he would hum
the melody and a musical secretary would write down the notes. He became one of the
greatest songwriters the country has ever known.
Bits & Pieces, December 13, 1990.
Charles Francis Adams, 19th century political figure and diplomat, kept a diary. One
day he entered: "Went fishing with my son today--a day wasted." His son, Brook
Adams, also kept a diary, which is still in existence. On that same day, Brook Adams made
this entry: "Went fishing with my father--the most wonderful day of my life!"
The father thought he was wasting his time while fishing with his son, but his son saw it
as an investment of time. The only way to tell the difference between wasting and
investing is to know one's ultimate purpose in life and to judge accordingly.
Silas Shotwell, in Homemade, Sept, 1987.
John Wooden, the eminently successful basketball coach at UCLA during its dynasty
years, was asked his secret in producing stellar teams. His answer: "We master the
basics. We drill over and over again on the fundamentals."
Moody Monthly, September, 1989, p. 4.
The conditions of success are always easy -- we have to toil awhile, endure awhile,
Success is getting up just one more time than you fall down. If at first you don't
succeed, you are running about average.
Man . . . spends his life doing things he detests to make money he doesn't want to buy
things he doesn't need to impress people he doesn't like.
Joe Aldrich, "Satisfaction," Multnomah Press, 1983.
Secret. It's best to do a thousand things 1% better than just one thing 1000% better.
Excellence is made up of a thousand little things all being done well.
Thomas J. Peters.
If you have tried to do something and failed you are vastly better than if you had
tried to do nothing and succeeded. If you want a place in the sun, you have to expect some
Here are some more one liners whose sources are unknown:
The only place success comes before sweat is in the dictionary, and the road there is
often under construction.
Success is being able to hire someone to mow the lawn while you play golf for exercise.
Success is getting what you want out of life without violating the rights of others.
The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether
it's the same problem you had last year.
"Quit!" "Give up, you're beaten," they shout and plead there's just
too much against you now, this time you can't succeed. And as I start to hang my head in
front of failure's face, my downward fall is broken by the memory of a race. And hope
refills my weakened will as I recall that scene, for just the thought of that short race
rejuvenates my being. A children's race, young boys, young men; how I remember well,
excitement sure, but also fear, it wasn't hard to tell. They all lined up so full of hope,
each thought to win that race or tie for first, or if not that, at least take second
place. Their fathers watched from off the side, each cheering for his son, and each boy
hoped to show his dad that he would be the one.
The whistle blew and off they went, young hearts and hopes of fire, to win, to be the
hero there, was each young boy's desire. One boy in particular, his dad was in the crowd,
was running near the lead and thought "My dad will be so proud." But as he
speeded down the field across a shallow dip, the little boy who thought to win, lost his
step and slipped. Trying hard to catch himself, his hands, flew out to brace, and mid the
laughter of the crowd he fell flat on his face. So, down he fell and with him hope, he
couldn't win it now. Embarrassed, sad, he only wished to disappear somehow. But as he fell
his dad stood up and showed his anxious face, which to the boy so clearly said, "Get
up and win that race!" He quickly rose, no damage done, behind a bit that's all, and
ran with all his mind and might to make up for his fall. So anxious to restore himself, to
catch up and to win, his mind went faster than his legs, he slipped and fell again. He
wished that he had quit before with one disgrace. "I'm hopeless as a runner now, I
shouldn't try to race." But, in the laughing crowd he searched and found his father's
face, that steady look that said again, "Get up and win that race!" So he jumped
up to try again, ten yards behind the last, if I'm going to gain those yards, he thought,
I've got to run real fast. Exceeding everything he had, he regained eight or ten, but
trying so hard to catch the lead, he slipped and fell again.
Defeat! He lay there silently, a tear dropped from his eye, there's no sense running
anymore -- three strikes I'm out -- why try? The will to rise had disappeared, all hope
had fled away, so far behind, so error prone, closer all the way. I've lost, so what's the
use," he thought, "I'll live with my disgrace." But then he thought about
his dad, who soon he'd have to face.
"Get up," an echo sounded low. "Get up and take your place. You were not
meant for failure here, get up and win that race." With borrowed will, "Get
up," it said, "you haven't lost at all, for winning is not more than this; to
rise each time you fall." So, up he rose to run once more, and with a new commit, he
resolved that win or lose, at least he wouldn't quit. So far behind the others now,
the most he'd ever been, still he gave it all he had and ran as though to win. Three times
he'd fallen stumbling, three times he rose again. Too far behind to hope to win, he still
ran to the end. They cheered the winning runner as he crossed, first place; head high and
proud and happy -- no falling, no disgrace. but, when the fallen youngster crossed the
line, last place, the crowd gave him the greater cheer for finishing the race. And even
though he came in last with head bowed low, unproud, you would have thought he'd won the
race, to listen to the crowd.
And to his dad he sadly said, "I didn't do so well." "To me, you
won," his father said. "You rose each time you fell." And now when things
seem dark and hard and difficult to face, the memory of that little boy helps me in my own
race. For all of life is like that race, with ups and downs and all. And all you have to
do to win is rise each time you fall. "Quit!" "Give up, you're
beaten," they still shout in my face, but another voice within me says, "Get up
and win that race."
Commentary and Devotional
Among the apostles, the one absolutely stunning success was Judas, and the one
thoroughly groveling failure was Peter. Judas was a success in the ways that most impress
us: he was successful both financially and politically. He cleverly arranged to control
the money of the apostolic band; he skillfully manipulated the political forces of the day
to accomplish his goal. And Peter was a failure in ways that we most dread: he was
impotent in a crisis and socially inept. At the arrest of Jesus he collapsed, a hapless,
blustering coward; in the most critical situations of his life with Jesus, the confession
on the road to Caesarea Philippi and the vision on the Mount of transfiguration, he said
the most embarrassingly inappropriate things. He was not the companion we would want with
us in time of danger, and he was not the kind of person we would feel comfortable with at
a social occasion. Time, of course, has reversed our judgments on the two men. Judas is
now a byword for betrayal, and Peter is one of the most honored names in the church and in
the world. Judas is a villain; Peter is a saint. Yet the world continues to chase after
the successes of Judas, financial wealth and political power, and to defend itself against
the failures of Peter, impotence and ineptness.
Eugene Petersen quoted in: Tim Kimmel, Little House on the
Freeway, pp. 191-192.
When I came to North America, I found that most churches, pastors, seminaries,
colleges, and parachurch agencies and agents were in the grip of this secular passion for
successful expansion in a way I had not met in England. Church-growth theorists,
evangelists, pastors, missionaries, and others all spoke as if: (1) numerical increase is
what matters most, (2) numerical increase must come if our techniques and procedures are
right, (3) numerical increase validates ministries as nothing else does, and (4) numerical
increase must be everyone's main goal.
Four unhappy features marked the situation. First, big and growing churches were viewed
as far more significant than others. Second, parachurch specialists (evangelists, college
and seminary teachers with platform skills, medicine men with traveling seminars,
convention-circuit riders, top people in youth movements, full-time authors and such) were
venerated, while hard-working pastors were treated as near-nonentities. Third, lively
laymen and clergy were constantly being creamed off, or creaming themselves off, from the
churches to run parachurch ministries, in which quicker results could be expected and
where accountability was less stringent. And fourth, many ministers of not-so-bouncy
temperament were returning to secular employment in disillusionment and bitterness, having
concluded that the pastoral life is a game not worth playing. . . Faithfulness, godliness,
and loving service are the divine measure of real success in ministry
J.I. Packer, Christianity Today, August 12, 1988, p. 15.
Will is the whole man active. I cannot give up my will; I must exercise it. I must will
to obey. When God gives a command or a vision of truth, it is never a question of what He
will do, but what we will do. To be successful in God's work is to fall in line with His
will and to do it His way. All that is pleasing to Him is a success
Henrietta Mears in Dream Big: The Henrietta Mears
in Christianity Today, June 21, 1993, p. 41.
Research and Statistics
The evidence is convincing that the better our relationships are at home, the more
effective we are in our careers. If we're having difficulty with a loved one, that
difficulty will be translated into reduced performance on the job. In studying the
millionaires in America (U.S. News and World Report), a picture of the "typical"
millionaire is an individual who has worked eight to ten hours a day for thirty years and
is still married to his or her high school or college sweetheart. A New York executive
search firm, in a study of 1365 corporate vice presidents, discovered that 87% were still
married to their one and only spouse and that 92% were raised in two-parent families. The
evidence is overwhelming that the family is the strength and foundation of society.
Strengthen your family ties and you'll enhance your opportunity to succeed.
Zig Ziglar in Homemade, March 1989.
In a 6-year survey at a West Coast university, it was found that self-confident,
successful people had three things in common: They were loved and valued at home; their
homes were democratic; their parents were not permissive.
Homemade, July, 1990.
You can use most any measure
when you're speaking of success.
You can measure it in fancy home,
expensive car or dress.
But the measure of your real success
is one you cannot spend.
It's the way your son describes you
when he's talking to a friend.