Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Twelve Pillars of Success

I'm often a little wary of success books, especially when they exude a "health, wealth and prosperity" mentality. Even so, some of them have some great practical points about life.

Over the past few weeks, I've been studying Twelve Pillars by Jim Rohn and Chris Widener. It's a book about a middle-aged man learning about the Twelve Pillars of Success from the caretaker of a large estate characterized by its twelve white pillars. Although there were points I can't say I totally agree with and I wouldn't put this forth as the ultimate model for success in life, I was inspired by many points and believe that it was written from a Christian perspective.

So what are these twelve pillars as outlined in this book?

1. Develop Yourself
2. Total Well-Being
3. The Gift of Relationships
4. Write Down Your Goals
5. The Proper Use of Time
6. Surround Yourself with the Best People
7. Be a Life-Long Learner
8. All of Life is Sales
9. Income Seldom Exceeds Personal Development
10. Communication
11. Leadership
12. Leave a Legacy

I won't expound on all of those, but just share some of my favourite points.

  • In order for us to succeed in life, we need to grow as individuals. If you want your circumstances in life to change, you first have to change as a person. As Christians, we can do this as we allow God to work in us and change us into His image.

  • On the issue of total well-being, three-dimensional health (body, soul, spirit) was explained and how we need to care for each one. If one part of our body suffers, the others suffer as well. It's all interconnected.

  • Relationships are God's most precious gift here one earth. Cultivating them often takes a good deal of effort and sometimes pain, but it's so worth it. "The greatest gift the Grand Designer gives is the gift of other people. Yes, relationships can be hard, but they are also what the joy of life is made of."

  • Time management is something I haven't mastered yet. I often find myself wasting so much precious time just thinking of all the things I have to do. I need to start thinking less and start doing more. We can endure the pain of discipline now, or deal with the pain of regret later.

  • Surrounding ourselves with the right people is so crucial, especially as Christians. The Bible speaks so much on this issue. In order to succeed in life, we need to spend time with those who share our values, goals and visions and will inspire and encourage us. "Go where the expectations and demands to perform are high." 1 Corinthians 15:33 says "Bad company ruins good morals." Surround yourself with godly people who desire to live above the mediocrity of this world.

  • Learning doesn't end when we finish school. It's something you have to do all your life. You can't escape it. What I appreciated was the book list included in this chapter, including some well-known Christian authors and titles. There's so much out there to learn, but make sure the knowledge is true and applied. Until you apply and live out what you know, it's useless.

Most of all though, what will be left of your life when it's over? Your life doesn't end when you die and leave this world. The seeds you have sown continue to grow and affect the next generation and maybe many more. Will you leave a legacy? What will people remember of you? It reminds me of the importance of living a life that counts, that will make an impact for eternity.

No, Twelve Pillars isn't my preferred road map for life. I'll sooner turn to the Bible and other trusted Christians for that. But sometimes it's good to have a practical reminder of the things that matter and this book did a good job of that. But if you like success books as much as I do, I understand.

Saturday, 11 September 2010


Lately, I've been really inspired by Louie Giglio and as I was searching him on Youtube and came across this video where he speaks on the issue of "rededication" and I loved what he had to say. (Watch the video below first if you like to understand my thoughts better. I couldn't figure out how to get my text under the video.) Rededication is something I have often found myself wondering about. I can't help but notice how many Christians speak of having rededicated their lives, sometimes several times, when they share their testimonies. Don't get me wrong, but somehow I have a feeling there's something really wrong with this concept. Somehow I feel that God meant for the Christian life to be different. I don't know if my thoughts here on this issue are right, but I will throw them out there anyway.

I know it's something I have dealt in my own life in the past. I walked this inconsistent life for a long time. It seemed an endless cycle of ups and downs and "rededication" if you will. You're doing so great for awhile and then you slide downhill and come to God and say "From now on, it's going to be different. What I did back there will never happen again. I rededicate my life to You and from now on I will live a godly life." And then you're great for awhile. You read your Bible more, you pray more, you clean up the sin in your life. But after about two weeks, your initial fire dies and soon you're doing the same thing all over again.

You see, I think the problem with rededication is that many Christians are approaching it in their own strength and they don't realize they can't do it on their own. I mean, do you really think that after you've messed up, you can come to God and promise Him that you'll never mess up again, that from here on in, it'll just be a steady upward road? What a joke! Can we really make God any promises? You might as well be saying "God, I plan on living a righteous holy life from now on, and I can do it ON MY OWN!!!

I think Louie has it right when he says we have to surrender. We can't live the Christian life in our own strength and you will never get anywhere promising God you will never mess up again. It'll be a continuous cycle and you will be miserable. I know I was. We have to surrender our lives to God and walk in grace, in the Spirit, trusting Him to uphold us in our walk.

I don't think that rededication is a Biblical concept. I think what people need is more repentance and revival, not more rededication. They need to surrender their lives to God and walk in the Spirit instead of trying to living godly lives in their own strength. It just doesn't work otherwise.

Please do share your thoughts on this. I'm not sure I have this right either and I had trouble wording my thoughts, but it's a concept in modern-day Christianity that has really been nagging me and I finally heard somebody say it right. So, if you don't like what I have to say or it doesn't make sense, listen to Louie. I think he has it right.

Monday, 6 September 2010

In One Verse

Have you ever tried summarizing the Christian life or salvation in one sentence? It can be difficult to wrap the Gospel into one sentence that people will fully understand. I recently encountered a verse where Jesus, in my opinion, perfectly describes the Christian life:

If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.
-John 14:23

It speaks of us loving Christ, keeping His commands, God loving us and coming down to live with us and in us. I'm glad that at some point, it seems Jesus thought, "Simply put, there it is. In case anybody has problems understanding what it is I want for them."

More small reflections on scripture hopefully coming soon.