A Bible message by Bayless Conley
Copyright © 2003 Answers with Bayless Conley
I really believe with all of my heart that God wants to bless His people. You can’t read through the
Bible, Old Testament or New, without seeing one of the many-sided blessings of God being
material. God does bless people. God does exalt people. God does prosper people. And there
are certainly conditions with that and there are certainly motivations that go along with that. It’s
been said that prosperity is the most dangerous thing that God will ever trust you with. And I think
there’s a lot of truth to that saying.
I would like for you to open your Bible to 1 Kings 3:5. We’re going to be dealing with some
business principles, but in particular, we’re going to be looking at keys for better business from
one of history’s wisest and richest men.
1 Kings 3:5 says, “At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night and God said,
Ask what shall I give you?”
And Solomon went on and talked about how God had been gracious to his father and some other
things. And we really get down to it if you jump to verse nine. Solomon says this. “Therefore give
to your servant an understanding heart to judge your people that I may discern between good and
evil, for who is able to judge this great people of yours?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had
asked this thing. Then God said to him, “Because you have asked this thing and not asked long
life for yourself nor have asked riches for yourself nor have asked the life of your enemies, but
have asked for yourself, understanding, to discern justice, behold, I’ve done according to your
word. See I have given you a wise and understanding heart so that there has not been anyone
like you before you nor shall any like you arise after you. And I have also given you what you
have not asked. Both riches and honor so there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all
Now if you don’t think motives are important with God, you didn’t read that. God was pleased with
Solomon’s speech. You didn’t ask for a bunch of stuff for yourself. You were thinking about other
people and because you were putting other people first, because you had your motives right,
because your heart was pure, Solomon, I’m going to give you what you asked for and what you
didn’t ask for. And God gave him a wisdom so there was none like him before him or after him.
And God said, “I’m going to make you wealthy so there’ll be no other king like you.” And indeed,
he was one of history’s wisest men and one of history’s richest men. And with the wisdom God
had put inside of Solomon’s heart, he explored a great many things. And he sought out a great
many answers concerning things. In his writings in the Book of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and the
Song of Solomon, he has a lot to say in connection with prosperity and poverty.
And in particular I was reading a couple of months ago the, the writings of Solomon. And as I was
reading through Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, I found that he would use a word
again and again and again. And the word was BETTER. In other words, this is better than that.
And as I studied the times that he chose to use that word and make such comparison, I realized,
it dawned on me that almost in every case, the truth he was trying to communicate could be
applied in a business setting. And so I want to talk to you about that. It could be applied in the
arenas of achievement and success.
Number one. It’s better to have integrity and to be poor than to be rich and be dishonest.
Better is the poor who walks in his integrity than one who is perverse in his lips and is a fool.”
Goodspeed translates it this way. “Better a poor man who walks in his integrity than one who is
crooked in his ways, although he be rich.” The Living Bible says, “Better be poor and honest than
rich and dishonest.” It’s pretty clear.
Look at Proverbs 28:6. We find the same truth echoed there. Proverbs 28:6: “Better is the poor
who walks in his integrity than one perverse in his ways though he be rich.” So when it comes to
success, the first issue is one of character. You start by making the decision that before you start,
you will not compromise your integrity to get ahead. This is how you start. You start by making
the decision before you start that you will not compromise your integrity or compromise your
character to get ahead.
Because you will find that as opportunities to advance arise both in business and in life, they are
almost always to be sure to be seeded with temptations. With every opportunity to advance and
succeed in business and life, almost always, there will be present the seeds of temptation. A lot of
people falter in this area. Seeds of temptation to cut corners, to mislead or to misrepresent the
product or a service to get ahead, to take credit that belongs to someone else, or to do things that
are ethically wrong in order to gain customers. Some of you have experienced some of these
things and know that it’s gone on. Before you start, determine that integrity will be the bedrock
upon which your success is built.
There is a whole side where you have to have some business sense to do some of those things.
And we’re going to talk about it, but I’m telling you, this is the foundation. If you don’t get this right,
it doesn’t matter what you build, you’re going to self-destruct somewhere down the line. This is of
incredible, incredible importance.
So realize that even if you have a desire to prosper and build success, it cannot be success at
any cost. Better to stay poor than to lose your integrity or compromise your character. And I don’t
believe any man or woman can truly live a happy fulfilled life without having character and
integrity. And despite what some people think, the crises of life and the pressures of life do not
form character. They merely reveal character. They don’t form it, they just reveal it.
True strength of character comes, number one, by spending time with God. Integrity and strength
of character is imparted to the person who spends time with his heavenly Father, because God is
Secondly, it comes on an earthly level from fathers and mentors and from examples that we have
in this life. Those are the two main ways that strength of character and integrity are going to be
imparted. Number one, relationship with God. Number two, from the mentor that you have in this
Look with me at Proverbs 20:7. It says, “The righteous man walks in his integrity. His children are
blessed after him.” The number one place the person of character wins is with his family. You can
have what the world might call success and a measure of prosperity, but if you don’t have
integrity, your family knows the difference. More than anything else, I want to win with my family.
Friend, if you’ll have integrity, you can win with your family. Let me give you reasons why you
shouldn’t compromise when it comes to character and integrity. Number one, because of
conscious. A clean conscience makes a pretty soft pillow at night. But a guilty conscience can be
an intolerable burden. It is a great thing not to be continually bothered by a guilty conscience.
Somebody says, “I know people who have cheated their way to wealth, and their conscience
doesn’t seem to bother them at all.” And I think some of us know people like that. I mean the
world will set up people like that as examples as icons to follow. And you know, I think that’s even
worse than having a guilty conscience. That’s what you call a seared conscience.
So you don’t want to compromise integrity. Number one, because of conscience. Number two,
because what you lose by compromise is going to be more valuable than what you may gain.
Whatever you gain through compromising, you’re going to lose something that’s more valuable
It’s important that you keep your integrity in tact. You don’t want to lose it. The Bible says, “If my
heart doesn’t condemn me, I have confidence toward God.” It’s not worth losing your confidence
Now the third reason not to compromise your character is because it will make your decision
process far easier most of the time. Look at Proverbs 11:3. It says, “The integrity of the upright
will guide them, but the perversity of the unfaithful will destroy them.” The integrity of the upright
will guide them.
Half of life’s decisions are already made once you decide you’re going to walk by integrity. Here’s
how it works. If it causes me to compromise my integrity, the answer is no. That was already
decided before I ever heard the question. Anything that would cause me to give away my integrity
or compromise my character, the answer is no. Half of all of life’s decisions are already made for
you. It makes it a whole lot easier when it comes to this decision process.
Do we sell an inferior product or give an inferior service to save money? No. Do we mislead
people through advertising? No. It just doesn’t work that way. Sometimes I see advertisements
for conferences. This is the most important conference you can attend this year. That’s not
integrity if you ask me. How do they know that?
I think every sane person really wants to prosper and get beyond where they are for the right
reasons. But here’s the deal. If it causes you to compromise integrity along the way, you do not
The fourth reason is because of reputation. Wrong dealings, especially in business, have a way
of becoming known. Numbers 32:23 says, “…be sure your sin will find you out.” The business
community is much smaller than you think, and if you lose your good reputation, you will lose
business which brings us to the second better thing.
Look with me at Ecclesiastes 7:1. It says, “A good name is better.” Everyone say better. “A good
name is better than precious ointment and the day of death than the day of one’s birth.” A
precious ointment in that day was a very valuable commodity.
In that culture, it was a hallmark of prosperity, and it was one way that a man’s wealth was
measured. So you could just say, “A good name is better than prosperity.” It’s better than cash.
It’s better than wealth. A good name is better and the day of one’s death is better than the day of
But a good name is synonymous with a good reputation. It is others’ assessment of you based on
the character that you display. That is what your name is. It is others’ assessment of you based
on the character that you display. That’s your reputation. That’s your name.
Proverbs 22:1. It says, “A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, loving favor rather
than silver and gold.” A good name is the result of the choices you make. And sometimes you
may be forced to choose it over temporary gain. I say temporary, because if you compromise
character or integrity to gain something, you will eventually lose it and probably lose a whole lot
The point is and I know that that might sound highly unspiritual to some of you. You say, “Pastor
Bayless, that is so much off the rails from what you normally do,” I just have it in my heart to help
business people. Some people just don’t get it. They just don’t get it. Because once your name is
tarnished, if your name, your reputation is tarnished, it’s very hard to retrieve that.
You think, “Oh Lord, I can’t afford that.” You can’t afford not to. It will pay. I’m telling you. It will
pay. A good name has to be earned. It doesn’t come overnight.
Here are a few things that a good name comes from. It comes from fairness, treating people
fairly, kindness, courage, wisdom, integrity, generosity and purity. Another of Solomon’s sayings
is found in Song of Solomon 1:3. He says, “Your name is as ointment or perfume poured forth.”
And the idea is that just the mention of some people’s names brings refreshing. Good, sweet
thoughts accompany it. I mean, you can say some people’s name to me or mention some things
and it’s like, there’s just happy thoughts. But it’s not true with every name that you hear.
Try these names out. Jezebel. Not many people name their daughters Jezebel. Conjures up
certain thoughts, doesn’t it? Ahab, Jezebel’s husband. She pushed him around. I wouldn’t name
my kid Ahab. Conjures up certain things in my mind. How about Judas? I mean we call people…
She’s a Jezebel. He’s a Judas. She’s a Judas. How about Hitler? Adolph Hitler. Nobody wants to
name their kid that… bossy and wanting to rule the whole deal. “Ah, she’s just a little Hitler. He’s
just a little Hitler.” Well, the name has certain connotations.
On the other hand, we think of names such as Albert Switzer, Helen Keller, Samuel, Ruth,
Abraham Lincoln, and Benjamin Franklin. I don’t know why, but to me the name Benjamin
Franklin makes me happy. You just read all these witty things he said all the time. He must have
been the neatest guy. But his name is a good name.
Now when people say my name, I don’t want it associated with a Jezebel, Judas, Hitler crowd. I
would like my name to be a good name. I want it to be in the Ruth, Helen Keller, Albert Switzer,
Abraham Lincoln, and Samuel category. Like I said, a good name is not earned overnight.
A good name is one of your most valuable assets. Get it and guard it.
Number Three. Look in Ecclesiastes 7:1. We come to the third better thing here. “A good name is
better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth. Better to go to the
house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men, and the living
will take it to heart.”
Better to go to a funeral than a feast. Better to go to a wake than a wedding. And what in the
world does that have to do with business and success? A whole lot. I’ve done two funerals in the
past week. There have been others besides that other members of the pastoral team have done.
But I’ve done two funerals myself just this past week. Both were very sad and very painful, but at
the same time, profoundly thought-provoking. The end of all men. The house of all mourning,
basically talking about a funeral house. It says “at the end of all men and the living will take it to
See when you’re at a funeral, you think about things you don’t normally think about. You think
about the brevity and the frailty of life. You begin to think about eternity, what happens after the
grave. “Where am I going to go when I die?” You tend to think about things important in life. You
tend to think about relationships that many times you might not otherwise think of at all.
Now there are times to feast and there are times to part and we thank God for all of that, but I
think you can gain more wisdom from this. Important things. Relationship with God, relationship
with family, relationship with friends, things that should not be pushed on the back burner while
climbing the ladder of success. But a lot of people do that. They get so busy, you know. They
have their eye on the target, they have their eye on the goal and while they’re climbing the ladder,
their relationship with God just gets pushed back a little bit.
“Well I’d like to spend more time with the kids, but I’ve got to get this accomplished. I know the
family is important, but I’m going to push this over here. My loved ones are important, but that’s
going to get pushed aside as well.” I’m going to tell you the truth, no one ever lay on their death
bed lamenting the fact that they didn’t spend more time at the office. No one. But there has been
many a man and many a woman that lay at death’s door lamenting the fact that they didn’t see
their kids grow up, that they were gone all the time, that they didn’t take the time to do some more
walks in the park, take their kids to the circus and just live. And that’s what he’s talking about
here. Better the house of mourning than feasting. He says that’s the end of all men. And the living
will take it to heart. That doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy life. But you will take to heart eternal
Make the kind of choices that when you stand before God and you have to give an account of
your life, you’ll be able to say, “I spent my life well. I lived for the right things. I achieved success
without sacrificing some of the most important things in my life.” When you see the reward and all
the good things that God has planned for you and planned for those that love Him, you’ll know
what Solomon mean when he said, “The day of death is better than the day of one’s birth,” if
you’ve lived your life well, if you had first things first, and if you live it right and you keep an
eternal perspective and you think about the brevity of life. I talk about that a lot at church. I think
about it a lot. It’s weird, and I don’t mean in some morbid way. Yes, it’s good to achieve success.
It’s good to prosper, but not at the expense of your family, not at the expense of your relationship
Number Four. Look at Ecclesiastes 9:4 This is the fourth one. And like I said, this is foundational
before we get to the practical. But it is so necessary. “But for him who is joined to all the living
there is hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.”
Two thoughts come to me when I read this. Number one, if you’re alive, there is hope no matter
how bad it seems right now. You may feel like a whipped dog. You may feel like you’re never
going to be in charge of your life again. You know a lion is independent, it’s conquering, but a dog
is totally dependent. Maybe that’s the way that you feel now. Maybe that describes where you’re
at. Financial independence isn’t even in the picture for you right now. Well take heart. If you’re
alive, there is hope.
I know there are people in our congregation, you’re out of work right now and you don’t have a
job. And you feel like a dog. Listen. A living dog is better than a dead lion. If you’re alive, there is
hope for you and God can bless you.
The second thought has to do with a dead lion. They are known for their independence, their
boldness, their largeness, their fierceness, and they are immense and awe-inspiring. I have seen
them close up in the wild before, and they are absolutely enormous, much bigger than you would
think they could ever be. When we think of lions, we think of conquering and fierce and bold and
all of those things. And some people have lived bold, large lives. They’ve gotten the lion share of
success, but the price they paid was an early grave. They overworked and their health broke
down. Their drive for success, taking on so much, caused the death of a marriage or caused their
own achievement to be short-lived. I’m all for living big and living bold and getting a lion’s share.
But I’d rather be a living dog than a dead lion. I don’t want people standing around saying, “Boy,
he conquered. He was a great lion. Too bad he’s gone.”
I’d rather just be a living dog instead of being a lion and being applauded for how courageous and
how much I was able to bite off, but how soon I had to check out. I’m not willing to sacrifice my
family or my health. Don’t let your opportunities take you beyond the boundaries of wisdom and
prudence. Your health and your family are too precious to offer on the altar of sacrifice. If you
have to live a dog’s life a little longer, so be it. Take time to enjoy your life and learn the lessons
you can where you’re at.
Here are some quick lessons you can learn from a living dog.
1. Always be faithful to those you love.
2. Always greet family members enthusiastically when they come home.
3. Stop eating when you’re full.
4. Drink lots of water.
5. Take naps.
6. Take lots of walks.
7. Take time to play with children.
8. Take time to enjoy simple things like an encouraging word, a warm fire, somebody scratching
A living dog is not so bad. Learn from where you are right now. Let God increase you but you
don’t want to sacrifice integrity. You don’t want to sacrifice your health and you don’t want to
sacrifice your family.
Better Business #2
Any honest person wants to achieve more than they have and wants to go further than where
they are now. I know you will always get the ultra-religious person who says, “Well, not me. You
know, I’m just content where I’m at.” And certainly godliness with contentment is great gain. We
understand that. But our purpose should be helping other people and furthering the gospel. And
for that purpose and that purpose alone, you shouldn’t be satisfied. You ought to try and get up
higher. You ought to get to the place where you can do more so that you can help more people.
God told Abraham, “I will bless you. You will be a blessing.” If you come to Cottonwood at all, you
know that is really the hard issue of the church. Everything we do translates one way or another
in redeeming lost people and touching hurting lives. So yes, we’re for prosperity. God wants His
people to prosper in business and otherwise, but it’s for a reason. Prosperity without an eternal
perspective is quite dangerous.
So God wants you to prosper, but He wants you to have one eye on the judgment seat of Christ.
He wants you to understand the purposes of prosperity. You know what’s great with God is the
Bible says, “He gives us richly all things to enjoy.” There is nothing wrong with you enjoying all
the fringe benefits. God wants you to be blessed. God wants you to enjoy life. He wants you to be
able to take care of your kids and your family, and all those things are wonderful. However, they
are secondary. The main deal is knowing Him and making Him known.
So last time, just by way of review, we looked first of all at the statement where Solomon said,
“It’s better to have integrity and to be poor, than to be rich and to be dishonest.” So when it comes
to success the first issue is one of character. If you achieve a certain degree of material success
and you lose your character on the way, you’re not a success at all. You have failed. Or if you
lose your family on the way, you’ve failed.
And we also talked about the importance of having a good name. And then we ended in
Ecclesiastes nine and four that says, “A living dog is better than a dead lion.” We talked about
that a little bit and what that means as it applies to success and business.
I want for you to look at Proverbs 16:16. And it says, “How much better to get wisdom than gold.
And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.” Everybody say better. Wisdom. It’s
better to get wisdom than it is to get gold. It’s better to get understanding than it is to get silver.
Now a lot of people, they would take the gold over the wisdom. Somebody says, “Hey, I’ve got a
bit of advice that’s really going to help you in your future or you can have this bucket of gold.” You
say, “Keep your advice to yourself. I’m going to take this bucket of gold.” And it may sound like a
really good transaction at the time, but friend it is not. Wisdom is more valuable. Understanding is
We find that stated again in Proverbs 3:13. It says, “Happy is the man who finds wisdom and the
man who gains understanding. For her proceeds are better.” Everyone say better. “Her proceeds
are better than the prophets of silver and her gain than fine gold.” You see wisdom does have
proceeds and she does bring you gain. This is better than silver. It’s better than gold.
Come down a few verses and we find some of her proceeds what they are. Proverbs 3:15, “She,”
speaking of wisdom. “She is more precious than rubies and all the things you may desire cannot
compare with her. Length of days is in her right hand and in her left hand, riches and honor.” Get
wisdom and these things are natural byproducts: long life, honor, and prosperity. That is what
comes when you get wisdom.
Wisdom will guide you down the road of success in such a way that your honor, your health, and
your family don not have to become casualties. And most importantly, you don not have to
sacrifice your relationship with God along the way.
There are folks that achieve prosperity, they achieve wealth, but they don’t have honor. Or their
life is cut short. And there are people who perhaps have honor and long life, but they don’t have,
perhaps, prosperity. But the Bible says that wisdom has in one hand long life, and the other hand,
honor and wealth or honor and prosperity.
Look with me at Proverbs 8:10. We find it stated again. And we all know that if God says
something once, it’s the truth and you need to listen to it with all your heart. If He says it twice,
you need to type it out and you need to put it on your refrigerator and on your bathroom mirror. If
He says it three times, you need to get it tattooed on your back. “Receive my instruction and not
silver and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better.” “Wisdom is better than
rubies and all the things one may desire cannot be compared with her.” Everything you can
Now think about it like this. The rubies and the gold and the silver are like somebody said, “Hey,
I’ve got this barrel of fish and I’m going to give you this barrel of fish, or barrel of salmon, or
whatever kind of fish you like. You can eat it, you can smoke it, it will sustain you for awhile. You
can have that or you can have the boat and the nets and all of the gear and continual access to
the lake and instructions on how and when to fish.”
Well a lot of people would say, “Man, I want that barrel of fish. I’m hungry.” Well that’s like the
rubies and the gold and the silver. You get something for it and maybe you’ll sell some of the fish
off and you’ll prosper for a little bit and it will sustain you for awhile. But friend, wisdom is like
getting the boat and getting the nets and getting the gear and getting all the instructions on how
to fish and when to fish. Then you can catch a barrel of fish any time you want and you can sell
them to all of the people that don’t want to learn wisdom’s ways. And you can supply all your own
needs and your family’s needs.
And so He says, “Wisdom is better than any of the things that you can desire.” Now that’s why
some people can make a fortune and lose a fortune and then go out and make another one. It
amazes me how some people, because they’ve learned how to, they’ve got the boat, they’ve got
the net, they’ve got the gear. You give some people a fortune and they will squander it. If they lost
it through some calamity, some turnaround, maybe the stock market bottom fell out or whatever
happened, they can turn around and make another one.
I’m telling you that’s why the Bible says, “Wisdom is the principle thing. Therefore get wisdom.”
Everyone say, “the principle thing.” It is the most important thing.
Look at Proverbs 8:12. It says, “I wisdom.” Now wisdom is personified here. “I, wisdom, dwell with
prudence and find out knowledge and discretion.” Now I actually like the King James Version
here best of all. “I wisdom dwell with prudence.” And the King James says, “And I find out
knowledge of witty inventions.” I like that.
And what this really means is that knowledge and discretion are knowledge of witty inventions.
The Hebrew means “use the imagination in a creative way.” Wisdom teaches you to use the
imagination in a creative way. One creative idea could change your whole future--change your
whole future. Everything—everything.
I read a story about a guy who loved God with all of his heart and married a young woman. His
heart’s desire was to go to Africa and spend the rest of his life as a missionary. His wife was
eager to go with him, but her health broke down. In the particular denomination he belonged to,
and the missionary society he was going through, they really discouraged him. They said, “Your
wife’s health will not be able to make it in the rugged conditions on the mission field there. If you
go, you'll be sending your wife to a grave." He was absolutely heartbroken.
And he thought, “What could I do to serve the Kingdom of God and to get the gospel around the
world?” He said, “You know what? If I can’t go, I can make money and I can support others to
go.” Well his father had been making this non-fermented grape juice to serve in Communion in
their local church. The people around liked it, and so he learned the recipe from his dad and
started a business from it selling grape juice. The guy’s name was Welch.
Anybody here ever drink any Welch’s grape juice? But who knows how much money went to the
gospel. One creative idea—one creative idea brought a fortune into his life and helped propel the
gospel around the planet.
The Bible says in the Book of Psalms, “They limited the Holy One of Israel.” Don’t limit God in
your life. It can happen. I met this guy in a coffee shop in Australia, a young guy and very
successful in business. He had a T-shirt company and sold surf wear. It was one of the hottest
items in all the surf stores there. Now I wouldn’t agree necessarily with the method he went about
doing it, but had the idea and came up with a really cool logo. And then sent all of his friends to all
of the surf shops around Sydney. They all asked, “Do you have such-and-such brand of shirts
and clothes in here?” They all said, “No.” And then he started calling the place and said, “You
know, I represent such-and-such. Would you be interested in carrying our shirts?” And they said,
“Yeah, the phone’s been ringing off the hook with people asking for that stuff!” He got them in all
the store, and it became an incredibly successful business. Now you weigh out the ethical nature
of doing that. I’m not a judge, but it really prospered.
See wisdom finds out knowledge of witty inventions, and helps you to think creatively. Look at
Proverbs 15:8. Wisdom, again, personified. “By me kings reign and rulers decree justice. By me,
princes rule and nobles. All the judges of the earth. I love those who love me and those who seek
me diligently will find me. Riches and honor are with me, enduring riches in righteousness. My
fruit is better than gold.”
Here it is. That word “better” again. “Yes, than fine gold and my revenue in choice silver. I
traverse the way of righteousness in the midst of the paths of injustice that I may cause those
who love me to inherit wealth that I may fill their treasuries.”
I’ve heard it said that wisdom is the ability to discover alternatives. It’s thinking outside of the
Wisdom is better than wealth. How do you get it? Look at Proverbs 15:17. “I love those who love
me and those who seek me diligently will find me.” You have to seek it. You have to seek it
diligently. One translation says, “Seek it early.” In other words, make it a priority in your life.” You
cannot be passive about finding wisdom. First you need to make the decision I am going to seek
Secondly, look at Proverbs 15:34. “Blessed is the man who listens to me.” And again, this is
wisdom speaking. “Watching daily at my gates.” Everyone say daily. “Waiting at the posts of my
doors for whoever finds me, finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord.”
So, if you want to get wisdom, you have to seek daily. You have to wait daily. Wisdom comes
when you determine to earnestly and consistently seek it. That’s where it starts. If you’ll make the
decision tonight and make it in sincerity that you’re going to go after wisdom, God’s going to give
And I know there are people who own little home business or who are starting something. You’ve
just got some dreams of being able to do some things. And you look at your future. The way you
would extrapolate it right now from your present job, there is no way that you can do the things
that you want to do. Well, friend, get off Highway 25. God can help you.
Now let me share with you quickly five ways that wisdom comes to you. Five ways that wisdom
comes. We could call it Five Kinds of Wisdom.
Number one. It’s what I call preordained wisdom. There is a preordained wisdom. You make the
decision that you’re going to seek it, that you’re going to look for wisdom. And these are the ways
that you can expect it to come to you. Discovering a preordained wisdom. Exodus 36:1: “Bezalel
and Oholiab and every gifted artisan in whom the Lord has put wisdom and understanding to
know how to.” I’m going to stop right there. God has put in them, wisdom and understanding to
know how to. “To know how to do all manner of work for the service of the sanctuary. They shall
do according to all that the Lord commanded and Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every
gifted artist and in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom.”
This is a God-initiated thing. And there are some things that every person just has an inborn
ability to do. Everybody. Nobody was left out of the line. Some of you, if it’s mechanical, you can
fix it. It doesn’t matter if it’s the toaster or if it’s the dishwasher. Whatever it is. If it’s mechanical, if
it has to do with a car, you can fix it. You love it when your kid has a new science project. Me, I
want to run and hide in the closet. But you just have this inborn thing. You look at something, and
you just kind of know how it works.
Other people have wisdom for managing people, it’s just this inborn ability to know how to
manage people. And you can actually look back and say, “Well I learned it from this and this and
this,” and certainly live experiences have helped along the way. But you just have this intuition
that other people don’t seem to have.
Some of you are a born salesperson. You just have this inborn ability to talk. Some people call it
the gift of gab. You could sell anything. As they say, sell a refrigerator to an Eskimo. And Eskimos
do use refrigerators. I think that’s a little bit of an outdated saying, but you get the drift of it.
Wisdom to know how to. Maybe it is writing, maybe it is musical. It is preordained and deposited
in your heart by God, but still it must be discovered and it must be cultivated. And if you would
begin to seek God about this, it would probably dawn on you.
There are some things that you already are just passionate about. Some thing you’re already
fruitful in. Maybe you ought to ask some friends. There are some things that you already just
produce fruit in in certain areas. There are certain areas that bring fulfillment in your life and the
deals already there. It might be in embryonic form, but it’s there. And if you’re earnestly seeking
God and say, “God, what is it you put in me? What is it that you’ve given me wisdom to know how
to do?” God will begin to guide you. And you can’t just have a fifteen minute powwow with God
and expect all heaven to open to you. Wisdom says the one that waits daily at my gates. One that
seeks me early will find me. So there is this preordained wisdom.
I think that God has just wired us all to do different things. Nobody is an accident. Nobody is
excess baggage. Everybody has a gift, and I think finding your gift is the main way God is going
to bring prosperity into your life.
Number two. The second way that wisdom comes is what I call an imparted wisdom. Look in
Deuteronomy 34:9. Moses put Joshua in front of the people. Moses laid his hand upon Joshua,
and it says the spirit of wisdom was imparted to Joshua. Again I want to say this was a Godinitiated
Because if you study the account, Joshua didn’t come up and say, “Moses I want what you got.
You lay your hands on me so I can get your mantle.” No. God said, “Moses, this kid Joshua. Get
him. He’s got it. Bring him over. You lay hands on him in front of the congregation.” Again, it was
a God-initiated thing. And we’ve got all kinds of people, you know, they come up and anybody
that’s doing anything in the Body of Christ, they say. “Lay hands on me. I just want to get your
mantle.” It doesn’t work that way, baby. We call that laying empty hands on empty heads. It’s got
to be a God-initiated deal, yet we study the Scriptures and we find out that there is an imparted
wisdom. Such an animal does exist, but it’s got to be something initiated from heaven.
Number three. There is God’s spoken wisdom. Look at Deuteronomy 4:5 “Surely I have taught
you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should act
according to them in the land which you go to possess.”
You need to take a look in the Book. Paul told Timothy, “Study the Scriptures. They are able to
make you wise.” Jesus called the Word of God the Wisdom of God.
Look at Proverbs 12:15. It says, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but he who heeds
counsel is wise.”
Number four. The fourth kind of wisdom I call the counselor’s wisdom. “He who heeds counsel is
wise.” Proverbs 13:20 says, “He who walks with wise men shall be wise, but a companion of fools
shall be destroyed.” We get wisdom from other people. If you are isolated, it’s a dangerous place
to be. The man or woman who only has himself for a teacher has a fool for a counselor.
We need wisdom from other people. You don’t have it all. You can’t do it all. You can’t see it all.
You’ve got blind spots. Man, I’ve got blind spots in my life, and I think with some things, just
because of my personality, I have inherent blind spots. Thank God for my wife. Man, between her
and the Holy Ghost, they keep me pretty good. And I’ve got some friends in my life that speak in
my life that can help me see some of those blind spots and help me find God’s wisdom.
You know people are interesting. I think it’s because it’s the security deal. We tend to gravitate to
people that aren’t doing well if we’re not doing well, and we want to talk to them. You find a
woman that’s struggling in her marriage and she goes to some other lady whose marriage broke
up. Some guy who is having a rough time, he goes and hangs out with some whoremongers, you
know? And that’s not what you need to do. You need to find somebody who has a stellar
marriage who has made it work, who has weathered the storms of life and find out…“What did
you do? Did you ever want to kill your spouse?”
And the same thing is true in the area of business or success or whatever it might be. If you’re a
sales person, if you run a machine shop, if you just have an aspiration of being a writer, then talk
to somebody else who has done it. If you’re a “muso” and you feel like you’ve got music in your
blood and you just don’t want to play with your little practice “amp” at home for the rest of your
life—you want to see something—then find somebody, get a book, go to the library and find
somebody who has done it before. Wisdom of counselors.
The final wisdom is what I call petition wisdom. James 1:5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask
of God who gives liberally to all men without finding fault.” It says, “And it will be given to us.” If
you lack wisdom, ask. If you don’t know what to do, if you don’t know how it works, if you don’t
know the timing on the deal, ask God and He will give it to you. How does He make it known if I
ask Him? Well first of all, right here, start looking in the Book, ask God for wisdom and open your
Bible. Expect it to come through other people—sometimes even your own kids—and then directly
from God’s Spirit. Maybe a direct revelation, illumination is probably a better word. You’re praying
about something, you’re earnestly seeking God, you’re spending your time in prayer, you’re doing
a little carpet time saying, “God, what do I do about this? You’re waiting quietly before God.
You’re reading your Bible. Sometimes, and I don’t know how God does it, but you just suddenly
know inside. It’s like all of a sudden, whoosh, the answer opens up and you go “Yeah, that’s it!”
And you just intuitively recognize it’s God. I’ve had that happen so many times throughout my life.
But the funny thing is, most generally, it doesn’t happen if I don’t pray. What a coincidence? I pray
and I get illumination concerning God’s wisdom. When I don’t pray, it doesn’t happen. It’s weird.
Maybe someone or one of you can figure that out and explain that to me. It’s an incredible
phenomenon that happens.
And then also when you pray, I think you can expect to be led by God’s wisdom in this way. Look
at Proverbs 3:16. “Length of days is in her right hand, inher left hand riches and honor.”
Look at Proverbs 3:17. “Her ways are ways of pleasantness and half of her paths are peace.”
Three-fourths of her paths are peace. Four-fifths of her paths of peace. All of her paths are
peace. How many of wisdom’s paths are peace? ALL!
Now here’s the deal. I’m praying about something. I’m praying about walking down a certain
pathway, about responding in a certain situation, about investing, about opening a business,
about doing this, about doing that, hiring this person, firing this person, doing this, doing that. I’m
praying about proceeding down this pathway. As I do, and I’m earnestly praying keeping it before
God, I don’t have peace in my heart. I think wisdom is trying to talk to me. That pathway is not
God’s wisdom for this situation.
The Bible says in Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace of God act as umpire continually in your heart
deciding and settling with finality all questions that arise in your mind.” Amplified Bible. An umpire
says, “Out of bounds. In bounds. That’s safe. That’s foul. That’s good. That’s bad.” And the peace
of God, all of her paths are peace. On the other hand as I pray about something and I’m like in
freak-out mode and I think, “What if this doesn’t work?” But when I pray about it, I cannot get
away from the fact that I have peace about doing it. It’s not something I’m trying to manufacture.
It’s just there. I base life’s greatest decisions on that inward peace. The biggest decisions I make
in my whole life, I base on that.
All wisdom’s paths are peace. So if you’re praying about doing something and you don’t have
peace, you better hold on, Tiger, and pray a little bit more.
Better Business #3
Please look at Ecclesiastes 4:9.
You know we built this building and moved in here, did the whole thing and I never even
mentioned it to the church. We never took up one offering and never even mentioned it from the
pulpit, and I want to just kick myself now.
I mean, it was just the grace of God, because of my stupidity and really because of my pride.
Because the deal was, I’m thinking in the back of my mind, I just don’t want to be associated with
those guys that are the hawkers, money raisers, and that kind of thing. And it was really probably,
just being frank, me worrying more about how I’m being perceived than anything else. And really
the deal is, this is our church and even though people support it and people gave and everything,
we really didn’t give them a systematic plan to do it and let them be involved in it.
So God has really brought me to a paradigm shift when it comes to money. And it’s interesting
that Jesus talked about money more than any other subject in the Gospels. And as we are
approaching a new building project, believe me, I’ll be talking with you about finances. I give you
my word, I’ll be doing that.
I was sitting down with our board members, and I’ve got some very good board members. None
of them are just “yes” people. They really challenge me to the core. And they challenged me
about ministering to the business people in the church. And again, it was that I just tried to dodge
it, but I think it was that whole “I don’t want to be associated with” deal going on in my mind.
They just really nailed my hide to the wall and so I made them a promise. I said, “I’m going to do
something about it.” Because truly there has been almost a subconscious thing brought across to
the people that you know it’s great if you’re in business or you’re an executive or a professional.
That’s wonderful. Come to church and serve God and be a good Christian. But if you really want
to serve God, you’ve got to go to Bible school and be a missionary or you’ve got to be a preacher.
I mean that’s the real deal and the rest of you, that’s great and wonderful. We know you’re good
Christians. And even though that was never said, it was sort of an undercurrent. And, you know
that’s so wrong. Because you read in the Bible and God called and anointed men in the area of
craftsmanship and business and I would say the majority of the people in the Bible are opposed
to what we would call fivefold ministry, prophet, evangelist, apostle, pastor, and teacher. I would
say there are more people that have the hand on them that are called in the area of business and
being a professional. And God has anointed them. He has put His hand on them to create wealth
in order to fund the Kingdom.
So I made those guys a promise. I said, “You know what? I’m going to change. I’m going to do
something about it.” I swallowed real hard and I’ve done my utmost to fulfill that promise to them.
We started a business fellowship in the church, and we have breakfasts. We try and support
those people in their calling. And so, the series we’re on right now is somewhat along those same
lines of dealing with business.
If you achieve success according to what the world may say success is, that you become
financially independent, independently wealthy, you don’t have to worry about anything else.
Retirement is not an issue with you. You can do all the things with your family you want to do to
fulfill your dreams, that’s not success in itself. At least it may be a world’s definition. What we
want people to do is move from success to significance.
And moving from success to significance is using the blessings that God has given you and using
the resources that God has given you to be involved in His plan. Because everybody has a part in
it, and it has to translate out some way into getting the Gospel into the four corners of the world.
So I just want to put that out front right now. I’m going to just share some practical things with you
tonight, but I want to see you succeed wildly beyond your fondest dreams, your craziest
imaginations. I pray that there are people in here that you end up handling millions if not billions
of dollars. Why not? I think God can just use some people like that and you will be faithful to
absolutely put that into the Kingdom of God, to support missions works around the world, support
your local church, support Kingdom stuff.
We dealt with those statements about “better in relation to wisdom and we are going to look at it
in relationship to teamwork and attitudes that will build a business or build a team.
Look at Ecclesiastes 4:19. Again, our key word is “better.” “Two are better than one because they
have a good reward for their labor.” Two are better than one. Teamwork is better and anything
that is growing, any business that is growing, any endeavor that is growing and that is healthy,
will eventually come to the place where teamwork is demanded. Otherwise, you put a lid on it if
it’s just you.
Everything that’s growing is healthy. It has to come to a point where it has to be this energy with
other things or other people involved. If you just have this desire that it’s going to be you and not
any more than that, you may achieve a level of success, but it will be very limited.
Why is a team better? Why are two better than one? Well he tells us the first reason in verse
nine. “Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their labor.” There’s more
potential profit. You may find people working with you or for you that were very, very happy when
they could do their task alone. I mean they’re just a happy little bird, you know, chirping away until
they’ve got to start to work with other people. Until the thing grows beyond them and then they
may resist the change, they may resist the idea of forming a team, or even unconsciously
sabotage the effort to create a team.
Perhaps because they feel threatened. “Or if other people get in here and they learn what I know,
then I might lose my job and it may be a threat thing.” And as long as they were the only one and
they knew how to do it, they were fine.
Sometimes it’s a thing out of insecurity. They don’t want to be showed up. Or “I don’t’ want
anybody else to do this thing better than me” so they chase everyone away. We’ve experienced
that in the church ourselves and this was a long time ago. But I had an employee in a key position
and we were bringing other people in because it has to be a team thing and every person that
came in that had any ability at all, they chased them off.
Now if somebody came in that didn’t have any ability, “Oh, welcome to the team!” But somebody
that showed promise and ability and initiative and creativity, man, they were squelched and
chased away. And we eventually had to let that person go. That was one of the reasons for it, but
it boiled down to an insecurity issue that they were not willing to deal with.
Sometimes people don’t want a team because of that. Sometimes it’s just because they’re
untrained in interacting with the team or uninformed as to how you want it to work and just
through their ignorance, they end up scuttling things. Ignorance can be cured, but attitudes have
to be repented of. If somebody’s got a right heart, if they mess up all the time, I’ll work with them
almost forever. But if they’ve got a wrong heart and it doesn’t change, they won’t be around long.
Ignorance can be cured. Attitudes must be repented of. I’m talking in a church setting, but I’m
talking in a business setting as well. You get somebody who’s got a wrong attitude, somebody
who’s got a thing going on inside that’s hurting them. If it doesn’t change on the inside, it’s going
to happen again. And it’s going to happen again and again. It’s got to be taken care of.
Now if you or someone working for you refuses to expand and create a team when the growth
demands it, you’re affecting the bottom line which are the profits. However you measure it,
whether that bottom line is in money, whether it’s in lives changed, or whether its’ souls saved.
However you measure that reward, two are better than one. They have a better reward for their
Number two. The second reason that a team is better we find in Ecclesiastes 4:10. “For if they
fall, one will lift up his companion, but woe to him when he is alone when he falls, for he has no
one to help him up.” There’s more potential encouragement and all of us have down times. Pastor
Bayless. Sometimes I get a bit discouraged. Now it’s not often, and I think it has to be with the
way God wires me up.
Number three. Third reason the team is better we find in Ecclesiastes 4:11. Again, if two lie down
together, they’ll keep warm. But how can one be warm alone. Third reason is more enjoyment.
You not only share the burden, but you get shared the blessing. A burden shared is cut in half. A
blessing shared is doubled. You know we were created to share and to do life together. And a
warmth comes with sharing achievement and success with other people. Life wasn’t meant to be
lived alone. Success wasn’t meant to be enjoyed alone. And it’s just something when you’ve got
other people working with you, there’s just a warmth of life that comes that you don’t get on your
I tell you one of the greatest joys of my life are the relationships that I have. It’s wonderful to
share, you know hard times, but it’s great to share the good times. It makes it much more
Number four. Fourth reason the team is better we find in Ecclesiastes 4:12. “Though one may be
overpowered by another, two can withstand, and a three-fold cord is not quickly broken.” The
fourth reason the team is better is because of more strength. In other words, you get one cord.
And maybe you can even snap it. You entwine two together, it’s stronger. You entwine three
together and the strength is multiplied. And when you have a team, your strength is diversified.
A smart man or a smart woman is going to staff their weaknesses. I try not to get a whole bunch
of people on the team at the church here that are just like me. There are some things I’m good at.
There are some things I absolutely stink at, and I realize that. So I try to get people that are good
at the things that I’m not good at.
If f you’re a wise person at whatever it is that you do, realize that when you diversify your
strength, there’s a synergy that happens that is going to help what you’re trying to do. You may
be great at numbers and maybe have a gift or an ability to steer your business economically. But
if you have the personality of a troll, you need to get someone else to interact with your
customers. Or if you have a wooden Indian personality, you need to get somebody that can deal
with people. You can get by, but there are some other people, man, they can just talk. I mean
they can make friends out of a fire hydrant, and you don’t want to put the money issues in their
hand because you’ll be broke in thirty days. But you see they have a strength where you have a
First impressions cannot be made a second time. You better get a receptionist. Somebody who
has a sunny personality and a pleasant voice. It’s important to get the right person for the right
thing. And like I said, a team is better. There is more strength. You need to staff your
When the growth of your endeavor demands it, building a team becomes necessary, but inherent
in a team is occasional turmoil. Inherent in a team is occasion turmoil. There comes into play
whenever you build a team, a number of personalities. People bring their history with them, and
sometimes there will be friction, especially if you have some creative thinkers and self-motivators.
There’s going to be friction.
Now in working together as a team, I just want to share with you six indispensable attitudes for
continued success. In working together and building a team, these are six indispensable attitudes
for building success and all of them are right from Mr. Solomon.
Look with me at Ecclesiastes 4:13, the very next thing that followed. He talked about these
issues, two better than one, building a team and verse 13, it says, “Better…”
Better a poor and wise youth
Than an old and foolish king who will be admonished no more.
Attitude number one says, “I will remain teachable.” You get an old foolish king, he has been at it
a long time. He is used to people obeying him. He is used to exercising authority. He is used to
people following his orders without question. Now he is foolish because he won’t listen any more
and it happens with many people. Other translations said, “…an old foolish king who won’t
receive counsel.” Another translation says, “He refuses all advice.”
And you know it happens so many times, you get somebody who was on the cutting edge in their
particular industry, and they built maybe some small empire; but they stopped growing, they
stopped being teachable, and they lost touch with the culture that they were in. They lost touch
with the way people were thinking, lost touch with the current technology, and the lion’s share that
they had vaporized, like the dew under the heat of the morning sun. What will happen is that
some young upstart that’s full of vision and insight who understands the culture will come on the
scene and ascend to the thrown of supremacy. And if that old foolish king doesn’t change, he will
be left in the dust by his competitors.
Again, this deals with that old foolish king who won’t receive counsel anymore, better to be a
young wise youth. Some of these young wise guys are just rising out of nowhere, and like I said,
getting the lion’s share. In fact look at verse 14, “For he” and the “he” refers back to the “poor
14 For he [the poor wise youth] comes out of prison to be king, Although he was born poor in his
And that’s exactly what’s going to happen with some, think of some of the computer companies
and the internet companies that have become hugely successful. It’s these young, unknown men
and women, nobody has ever heard of and they’re breaking forth on the scene, becoming multimillionaires,
because they’re willing to think fresh.
Well they know how people are thinking, and it may be these young guys that were imprisoned in
poverty and came up and they were wise and knew something about the culture and knew
something about what appealed to people and they knew about certain things that were important
to people. And it just may be that some of the other people that had the lion’s share, that were the
big guys at one time, got to the point, hey, we’re big, you know, we just, we know how to do it,
we’re going to do the same thing we’ve always done.
The moral is: Stay teachable, be open to fresh thinking and new ideas. They hurt sometimes, but
they’re good for you.
Number two. Second attitude. I will be humble. Look back at Proverbs 16:19. And again our
keyword is “better.”
19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly,
Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
And somebody says, well, I’d rather have the spoil. That’s short term thinking. God resists the
proud, but He gives grace to the humble. Those that exalt themselves, God will abase them. But
the humble God will exalt.
And being humble, contrary to what some people think, does not mean that you cannot be
decisive or assertive. It doesn’t mean that you cannot make hard calls when you need to make
them, more than anything else. Saying, I will be humble means, I don’t consider myself better
than you. And I will not or rather I will be content for God to cause me to be recognized, rather
than pushing my way to the head of the line. That’s what a spirit of humility is about.
Look with me if you would at Proverbs 25:6, and you will recognize this, because Christ quoted it,
He paraphrased it a fair bit. But he told in one of his parables.
6 Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king,
And do not stand in the place of the great;
7 For it is better that he say to you,
"Come up here,"
Than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince,
Whom your eyes have seen.
Listen to this from The Message Bible.
“Don’t work yourself into the spotlight, don’t push your way into the place of prominence. It’s
better to be promoted to the place of honor than to face humiliation by being demoted.”
God has a way of promoting you. A brother sitting in here tonight, told me just the other day, I had
been praying with him and just got a job in an optometry office and just within a week, promoted
to manager. God has a way of doing that. And there’s already some dialogue of something
beyond that. God just has a way of doing it. Another man, it was a personal friend, member of our
congregation, moved out of state, but just a humble attitude, went about it the right way. Took a
job in a good solid company, a tool company that actually has a national presence. And in a
matter of a few years, he’s now the vice president of the company and the owner of the company
is grooming him to take the whole thing over.
The only way you can work that out is you have to say it’s the God factor. Because there were
guys that were pushing and scraping and clawing and doing everything they could do to curry
favor with the boss and guys that had more seniority and everything else, but I’m telling you, if
you will keep a humble attitude that really honestly says from your heart, I’m not any better than
anyone else, so if you want to have an attitude that’s going to bring lasting success, you need to
have a heart that says, I will be humble.
Third attitude says this, I will keep my word. I will keep my word, Proverbs 19:22
22 What is desired in a man is kindness,
And a poor man is better than a liar.
In other words, if you have to lie to get rich, it’s better to stay poor. Say that again, if you have to
lie to get rich, better to stay poor. Because you lose more through lying than you gain through
whatever it is that you are after. Look in the book of Ecclesiastes chapter 5:5, and what’s the first
5 Better not to vow than to vow and not pay.
In business or in life, if you do not keep your word, news travels fast. And a bad reputation can
ruin you. You need to be a person of your word. The Bible says in one of the Psalms, one of the
attributes of a spiritual pilgrim, he or she swears to their own hurt and changes not.
People will not do business with people that break their word. And by the way, the place to start
there is right at your home. If you promise to take your boys fishing, take them fishing. If you
promise to take them to the show, you go to the show. And you keep your word with your kids,
keep your word with your wife, keep your word with your neighbor, you keep your word or you die
trying to keep it. That’s the way we live, we’re Christians, and our word is our bond.
So if you’re going to achieve success, here’s how it goes, I will keep my word. I don’t give it
frequently. But if I give it, you can take it to the bank. That’s just that. I’ll keep my word. And I
really think that shouldn’t have to be said to Christians, but I think sometimes people get under
pressure, and they think short term. And they break their word.
Friend, if you break it, word gets out about your word, then it’s going to hurt you more than it will
ever help you for the short term gain that you might get.
Number four. Fourth attitude says, I will be open to correction. That first one says I will remain
teachable. And I think it’s one thing to be teachable and to get advice, but it’s slightly different to
be open to be corrected. In fact look at Ecclesiastes 7:5.
5 It is better to hear the rebuke of the wise
Than for a man to hear the song of fools.
6 For like the crackling of thorns under a pot,
So is the laughter of the fool.
This also is vanity.
Now a lot of people want the praises and the commendations of the wise, but not their rebukes.
Praise me, tell me how good I’m doing. It is important to encourage people and to praise them,
but they don’t want to hear correction, they don’t want to hear rebukes. They would rather hear
the song of fools. Now a rebuke may not be as pleasant as the song of fools, but it is much more
valuable. The song and the laughter of fools. Like thorns crackling under a pot. I don’t know if any
of you spent much time in the out of doors, but if you ever had a campfire, and you get a bunch of
thorns and put them under a pot, you know what? You get those things on fire and “shewww,”
they flare up, they crackle and they make a bunch of noise, there’s this big flash of heat, and
then, almost in a moment they’re gone, just ashes left. Big show, but they really do very little as
far as getting the pot boiling. They’re really pretty useless.
The song of fools is the same way, as quickly as they flare up, make a show, then they’re gone.
And if you’re going to get the pot boiling, whatever your pot might be, you need to have a steady
consistent flame. Those kinds of people are the ones you want speaking into your lives…rebuke
or otherwise, those that are steady and consistently producing results.
The Bible says,
“He that works with wise men will be wise, a companion of fools with be destroyed.”
Take a look at the people that you’re soaking in from because you’re going to be right where they
are and you’re not going to get any farther. How much better for somebody that’s successful, for
somebody that’s wise you can come and say, hey, you know, let me pull your string a little bit
baby, if you want to do something with your life, you need to change your attitude, you ought to
show up early. You ought to stay late, this is the way that you need to work it, rather than just
hang around with the goof off’s. But a lot of people are not open to correction. They’re happy to
hear the song of fools. I mean it’s great. You put the thorns in, they make a lot of noise and it
flames up and it’s very cool, but it’s pretty boring, this slow steady flame. But if you’re going to get
a pot boiling, these are the kind of people that need to speak in your life. So everybody say, “I will
be open to correction.“
Attitude number 5 says, I will be patient. Ecclesiastes chapter 7:8.
8 The end of a thing is better than its beginning;
The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.
Rome was not built in a day and if you’re going to achieve any lasting degree of success, you
have to determine that you’re going to be in it for the long haul. Few people have patience, or the
patience necessary to achieve success. They want success, but they want it now.
The end is better than the beginning because the fruit comes at the end. At the beginning you
have to plow. At the beginning you have to plant. At the beginning you have to water, at the
beginning you have to weed. At the beginning you have to fertilize. At the beginning you have to
water again, but eventually harvest comes. But a lot of people don’t have the patience to get to
the end. You’ve got to be in it for the long haul.
Attitude number 6, the final one. This final attitude says, I will communicate. Proverbs 27 5.
5 Open rebuke is better
Than love carefully concealed.
Alright, why is it better? Well, because at the very least there’s some communication going on.
You have to communicate, if you’re going to be a success, if you’ve got a team, if you’re working
in an environment with other people, you have to communicate. You have to. People aren’t mind
readers. And you know love concealed maybe makes you feel really good, but it doesn’t do
anybody else any good at all.
Better, I mean just open rebuke, even if somebody’s’ just off base and they climb all over you, at
least they’re talking, at least you have a starting point for communication and working things out.
But the person that clams up and won’t say anything, you can’t make progress that way.
You know there are a lot of times that I think people, bosses or others, genuinely in their hearts
appreciate their employees, appreciate their boss, appreciate their co-workers, they genuinely
appreciate them. And so they feel really good about it, because in their heart, they know they
appreciate them. And it makes them feel good. But you know what? That doesn’t do the
employee any good at all, if you don’t verbalize it. Doesn’t do your co-workers, your boss or
whoever it might be, it doesn’t do your wife any good. Well, I know in my heart I love her, TELL
You have to communicate. And that’s why even if it’s open rebuke, better than love can see it.
Some people just never learn to talk. Communication is the life blood of any relationship. Without
healthy communication, a marriage will die. Without healthy communication, the family is going to
whither up. Without healthy communication, the business cannot succeed. You can’t be a
success without communication.
I heard a little thing in my spirit one time, I was actually in a time of prayer and it was a different
context that God gave it to me in, but it fits here. It was this little saying, and I’ve had it written
down for probably 23 or 24 years now. Lack of communication leaves room for imaginations.
Lack of communication leaves room for imaginations. Let’s look at one last verse and I’m going to
close with this. Proverbs 13:17, I’m in the New King James, but in the Living Bible it really has the
heart of what I want to share with you in it.
17 A wicked messenger falls into trouble,
But a faithful ambassador brings health.
Now the second part of that verse in the Living Bible, it’s translated this way.
Reliable communication permits progress. TLB
Reliable communication permits progress. And I’m telling you that is true in a church
environment, it’s true in a ministry environment, it’s true in a business environment. It is true in a
family, it’s true in a marriage. There has to be communication. Reliable communication permits
progress. And I just like this. It says, a faithful ambassador brings health.
Better Business #4
Please look at Proverbs 12:9.
Attitude number 7 – I will not worry about what others think of me.
That is an essential attitude. I will not worry about what others think of me. Proverbs 12:9. What’s
the first word? Better. There is our key phrase.
9 Better is the one who is slighted but has a servant,
Than he who honors himself but lacks bread. NKJV
And the word slighted there, literally means to be lightly esteemed or to just make light of. And
interestingly enough, the word honor, where it says that the one that is slighted and has a servant
is better than the one who honors himself and lacks bread, the Hebrew word for honor literally
means to be heavy, or to make weighty.
To be slighted in the Hebrew language means to be made light of, to be lightly esteemed. The
word honor means to be greatly esteemed, or that you are thought weighty, that people consider
your words weighty, your influence weighty, your presence weighty.
Now people who honor themselves are very concerned with how others perceive them. They do
all they can to create the perception of importance. They want to be seen as a heavy hitter, as we
would say, to the point that they will go into hawk to do it. They may honor themselves. Again,
they try to create the perception of the persona of being very important, being very weighty, even
to the point of going into hawk up to their eyeballs to achieve that, because they’re very
concerned about what people think.
A recent, very popular book talked about your millionaire neighbor, “The Millionaire Next Door.”
The book mentioned that generally the person who has a net worth of millions of dollars, does not
drive the latest model and most expensive car. Generally the man or woman that has achieved
financial independence and a large degree of wealth, has never spent more that $200 on a wrist
watch, yet enjoy the fruit of their labors. They are just not ostentatious about it.
On the other hand, the book mentioned people who drove the most expensive car, and wore the
most expensive watch, and outwardly displayed wealth. It said, by contrast they generally didn’t
have it. The ones that weren’t interested, didn’t feel like they had to display it, they had it. It was
just a very interesting parallel. They just wanted to create the perception of being a heavy hitter
and someone to be reckoned with.
I would rather be lightly esteemed and not thought of as a heavy hitter, or anybody to be
reckoned with, or anybody of any significance, and be prosperous, and just let people work out
where things really are rather than trying to make a show.
You will get a lot of people who have a call in the arena of business or whatever, and they go way
out beyond themselves. They begin to get a little bit prosperous. And rather than being wise with
that, and building the business, they go out and get the most expensive car. So now they have a
$1,200 a month car payment. And they go out and they get themselves a $2,500 suit. They have
all of the outward appearances, but they’re broke and in debt up to their ears.
There are a lot of people who are paying rent on a house, and they’re driving the most expensive
cars they can. Janet and I had a discussion about someone that was doing that very thing. I
mean I couldn’t work it out. I know for a fact, that they’re paying at least, between the two very,
very nice luxury cars, somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,000 a month in lease payments and
renting a house!
I thought, “Come on, man, get a clue!” Go get you a used car, and take that money, and get
together a down payment, and start building some equity. But to them, the image was very
And depending on the industry you’ve working in, you can’t show up in a pair of overalls and a Tshirt
in an executive position. When Joseph got out of prison, the first thing they said to him
before he went to Pharaoh was, “Go shave and change your clothes.” So there certainly is
wisdom in that, and we understand it, but some people are just over the top. And again, back to
our verse. “Better to be slighted, better to be thought lightly of, than to honor yourself and lack
You know what they say, “A man all wrapped up in himself makes a mighty small package.”
Attitude number 8. – I will keep unity. I will keep unity! Proverbs 21:9,
9 Better to dwell in a corner of a housetop,
Than in a house shared with a contentious woman. NKJV
Look at verse 19 of the same chapter.
19 Better to dwell in the wilderness,
Than with a contentious and angry woman.
So this guy’s moved from the corner of the housetop to the wilderness to get away from strife.
See strife is progressive. If not dealt with, it pushes people farther and farther away.
It’s true in a home. It’s also true in a business. In fact, I want you to look at the premium that God
puts on peace and harmony. This will apply to your life, where you live. This will apply to your
business, where you work or the place that you employ people.
Proverbs 17:1. The premium God places on peace and harmony. And again we find our key
phrase here. It says better.
17Better is a dry morsel with quietness,
Than a house full of feasting with strife. NKJV
Interesting! A dry morsel, a saltine cracker with quietness, is better than a banquet laid out in a
house where there is contention, and where there is strife. Look at Proverbs 15:16.
16 Better is a little with the fear of the LORD,
Than great treasure with trouble. NKJV
17 Better is a dinner of herbs where love is,
Than a fatted calf with hatred. NKJV
Better to have a little bit of cheese and a few olives than a roasted lamb dinner or a steak dinner,
if you can have peace with you cheese and olives. In verse 16 it says,
Better is a little with the fear of the Lord, Than great treasure…Not just treasure, but great
treasure with trouble.
The word trouble means to be vexed, to be in a state of upheaval, turmoil or confusion. It’s better
to have a little with peace and love, than a treasure you cannot enjoy because of strife.
Look at the premium that God puts on peace and harmony. Better to have a little bit, better to not
be prosperous and have peace in your life, than to have an incredible treasure, and be able to
feast sumptuously and not be able to enjoy it because of the atmosphere that’s there.
In your home and in your business, keeping unity needs to be a priority. It’s no fun to live and it’s
certainly no fun to work in an environment where there’s hostility and resentment.
The Bible says in the book of James, “Where there’s confusion and strife, there’s also every evil
Another individual had to let a few people go, and it really cost him financially, and cost him in
terms of grief at least initially. They had to go through what I call the tunnel of chaos, and it was
difficult for awhile. But God has so blessed them since they made that move. He’s the owner of
the company, and he said, “I didn’t even want to go into the office.” “And it’s so wonderful to be
able to come now, and there is this free atmosphere, and there is peace. But I had to make a
hard call first.”
The Bible says in the book of Titus chapter 3:10. ”Reject a divisive man after the first and second
I think that’s a pretty good rule. Someone that’s creating division, after the first and second
admonition. In other words, if it comes to the third time, they’re creating strife, they’re creating
division in the ranks and you go and you talk to them. You’ve got them straightened out. You go
to your brother and try and win him. If they’re not a brother, if it’s just a secular thing, you still go
And by the way, if you have a business, you need to keep notes on all this stuff. Every time you’re
talking to somebody, you better keep records of what you do, because if you get to the point and
you decide to let somebody go, and you don’t have a paper trail of the different things, then
you’re going to get yourself in a whole lot of trouble.
And you go to them the second time. And if it still continues on one, two, three, the best thing is
“sayonara.” You know, it’s just not working out and you go to them and say, “Look, we talked
about it here. It didn’t work out. We came and we talked about it again. We did it a third time. It
just doesn’t seem to be fitting. And the best thing would be if we had a parting of the ways.” And
you do it as sweetly as you can. You do it in a Christ-like spirit. But sometimes it is the best thing,
because friend, peace is very, very important.
And realize, there is no perfect home and there is no perfect workplace. There will be occasional
tension and friction, no matter where it is, because you’ve got people. I mean as soon as you
showed up, it wasn’t perfect anymore. As soon as I got there, it’s not perfect anymore.
There is always going to be friction when you get two people together in a marriage, in a
relationship, in a business or whatever. There is going to be dissension at some time. Sometimes
you are going to have a difference of opinion. However, if the prevailing attitude is, “We will work
it out, there will be peace,” that will be a major contributing factor to your success.
Where does strife come from? What causes it? The answer to that can vary, but there is one
source I want to especially point out in connection with what we’re looking at here. We are in
“A little is better than a great treasure if you have the fear of the Lord. A dinner of herbs is better
where love is than a fatted calf with hatred.”
18 A wrathful man stirs up strife,
But he who is slow to anger allays contention.
The literal Hebrew word for wrathful here, where it says, “A wrathful man stirs up strife…” means
anger, heat, displeasure, rage. Now here is where it gets interesting. The same Hebrew word is
translated as bottles and poison.
Now maybe if I was in an Eastern culture and reading this or some other world culture and those
meanings were there, heat, displeasure, rage, bottles, poison, maybe it wouldn’t speak to me the
way it does being raised up in Western culture. But that speaks volumes to my heart.
In other words, a wrathful person is not just somebody that gets angry easily, but a person that
bottles up their anger or displeasure rather than forgiving or striving to make things right. And
when the bottle gets under too much pressure, the cork comes loose. It poisons the atmosphere
and can potentially poison others, but stirring them up in strife as well.
By contrast, the second part of the verse, the person that is longsuffering, the person that’s slow
to anger, they don’t let stuff stick to them. And they not only do not stir up strife, they can reduce
the tension between others because their good nature gets off on people just like strife can get off
The ninth attitude that brings success – I will keep my temper. Look in Proverbs 16:32.
32 He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
And that word where it says, he who rules his spirit, literally, the one who rules his anger or keeps
his temper in check, is better than the one that rules a city.
If you do not rule your temper, it will rule you! It’s better to be slow to anger, because a wrathful
person stirs up strife.
Look at Proverbs 14:29.
Proverbs 14:29 “He who is slow to wrath has great understanding,
But he who is impulsive exalts folly.”
That word impulsive again, literally means he that has a short temper. The person that is slow to
wrath is of great understanding, but the person with a short fuse exalts folly.
Nobody likes working with someone who has a nitroglycerin personality. You accidentally bump
them or rub them the wrong way and they could explode. It is a terrible atmosphere to work in!
Makes it rough in a home as well. “Slow to wrath, longsuffering.”
Look at Proverbs 19:11.
11 The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger,
And his glory is to overlook a transgression.
Not to stew on a transgression, to overlook a transgression. Not to stuff it down inside, not to
cram it down in a bottle, not to keep the displeasure in there and put a cork in it, and let it build up
more and more. But it’s to a man’s glory, to a woman’s glory, to overlook.
Everyone say, “Overlook.” To overlook a transgression, that is a sign of maturity. In fact, if you
want to get down to it, just as believers, the Bible says that we need to be tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave us. And that we are to be imitators of God,
and follow Him as dear children.
Really none of us has a leg to stand on when it comes to this, because you know what? We have
all wronged God. We have all been rebellious against God. In fact, there’s probably not a person
here, if they would be honest, they would say, “You know what? I’ve done the same stupid thing
more than once, but God showed me unconditional love. He’s forgiven me, and if He marked my
iniquities, I just couldn’t stand.”
There is not a reason to hold onto a grudge and to stuff the bitterness and the displeasure and
the rage down inside. Because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy
Let’s look at one more verse along this line. I believe it will help you. Proverbs 25:28
Whoever has no rule over his own spirit,
Is like a city broken down, without walls.
The person that has no rule over their own spirit, whose temper gets the best of them, who
doesn’t deal with it, the wrathful person, they are like a city broken down, without walls.
If you let your temper get out of check, then you leave wounded, bleeding people all around you –
your employees, your coworkers or your family, it is an open door to the devil in your life. You
may not relate the misfortune that happened to you, but they can definitely be connected. It
breaks down that hedge of protection. And I think some people have a continual string of
mishaps, or accidents, or reversals, or just bad stuff seems to happen, and it’s almost like you
know, like they are fly paper and these things are sticking to them. And they can’t work out why. It
may be related to this very thing, letting stuff stick to you, cramming it down inside, hanging onto
displeasure, letting your temper get out of check.
If you’re a professional person, whether you’re a teacher, or a college instructor, a business
owner, or whatever it is that you do, you need to place a very, very high premium on peace.
People are going to rub people the wrong way, but let’s not be contributors. “Blessed are the
peacemakers,” not the peace breakers…the peacemakers.
Attitude number 10 – I will be faithful. Look at Proverbs 27:10.
Do not forsake your own friend or your father's friend, Nor go to your brother's house in the day of
your calamity; Better…
Everyone say, “Better”
…Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away. “
And in context of this neighbor, the same word can be translated friend, though it is a different
Hebrew Word, it has the same connotation.
…Better is a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.
But if you forsake your father’s friend and you forsake your friend, and calamity comes, then
you’re not going to have a neighbor or a friend nearby. And if you’re going to get any solace and
mercy and any help at all, it may be just that family’s going to have to take you in if they have the
ability to do it.
Be faithful to friendships. You never know when you may need them. Now won’t you listen to me.
I’m just going to talk to you about something practical. We live in a fallen world, and sometimes,
even though we give it our best effort, calamity’s reversals happen.
Sometimes we don’t understand. We see through a glass darkly. We give it our absolute best
shot. And yet sometimes, calamities, sometimes crises occur. We are trusting God the best that
we can, and sometimes we just don’t have all the pieces. Everything doesn’t always go right in
this world. And if you have forsaken relationships on your way to the top, if you should slip, they
will not remember you on your way to the bottom.
You need to guard relationships and friendships. Don’t forsake your friend or your father’s friend.
Don’t forsake those relationships. You don’t know when you might need them.
Some people start doing well and you know when they’ve got just small vendors, they get all this
special attention. You’re the most important person in the world. And maybe they get some big
account and then it’s like, I don’t really have time for you. What are you going to do if your big
account goes belly up? You’re putting all of your eggs in that basket. Those people are the only
ones who can keep you afloat, and they won’t be able to do it.
Relationships are just important anyway. Just in life, and certainly in the business things. Some of
you realize most business is done through relationships. In fact, the biggest business deals in the
world as far as I know, are carried out on the golf course and in restaurants. Serious! Largest
negotiations for billions of dollars are carried out on golf courses, carried out in restaurants, and
it’s mostly relationship connected.
Don’t forsake relationships. Don’t lose the personal touch. Don’t become a big shot.
One of the greatest things that you can ever hear said about you…and let’s say you achieve the
success that you desire to and you’re generating millions of dollars for the gospel, and perhaps
now you’re able to do everything that you wanted to do –fulfill your own personal dreams, and it’s
wonderful…and people say, “You know, they’re the same person they always were. They haven’t
changed a bit.”
That’s one of the greatest compliments you’ll ever receive because you don’t want to hear the
other. “Oh, yeah, they’re a big shot now. Don’t have time for the little people.” You don’t want to
hear that kind of a thing.
Then finally, number 11. The 11th attitude absolutely necessary for success is: I will not forget to
enjoy where I am right now.
Ecclesiastes 2:24 says,
Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good
in his labor. This also, I saw, was from the hand of God.
I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, and also that
every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor -- it is the gift of God.
Everyone say, “It is the gift of God.” Now it is good to dream, and it’s good to plan, and it’s good
to work towards the future. And you’ll find, that if you don’t learn to sacrifice certain things now,
you will never reach the level of success you’re going after. But having said that, some are so
focused on the future, they’re forgetting to live right now.
Yes you need to sacrifice certain comforts, and certain things now, for the sake of the future. Yet
some people are so focused on the future, they are not even alive right now.
Every day is a precious gift from God, and you need to learn to enjoy the journey. Squeeze every
drop of life you can out of each and every day. In fact success is not a destination. It is an
ongoing journey. But as long as you think of success as a destination, you won’t live. You just
Here are some things you need to enjoy and indulge in now. Starting today, starting tonight, some
things you need to enjoy and indulge in.
Number one –romancing your spouse.
If you’re married, give a lot of attention to that woman you’re married to, to that man you’re
married to. Don’t think, Well, I’ve got to sacrifice, and when we get to there, then we’re really
going to live. We’ll take our vacations together. Well by the time that you get there, she may not
love you anymore. Get involved now. Romance your spouse now.
Number two –indulge in laughing with your kids, and spending time with your kids.
Man, they’re growing up fast. The best time you can spend is with your family. Laugh with them.
Do things with them. Your family should never become some sort of sacrifice that you offer on the
altar of success.
I was watching an interview with a man that had ascended the heights in his particular field,
became very, very wealthy, a multi-, multi-millionaire, was much sought after for his expertise in
his field, and also just as a commentator on things. And the interviewer asked him a question
about his family. And he said, “You know, I achieved success, but it cost me my marriage.” He
said, “I achieved success, but it cost me my children.”
If that is success, I don’t want it! Count me out. If success is going to cost me my marriage, if it’s
going to cost me my relationship with my kids, I don’t want it.
I don’t care what kind of zeros are behind it, I don’t want it. My family has to be a priority.
Number three—indulge in and enjoy friendships.
Life is diminished greatly without them. Make friends and spend time with friends. Laugh hard.
Live hard. Do stuff together. Make time to be with friends.
When is the last time you had a good belly laugh with somebody? When was the last time you did
something stupid? And I don’t mean illegal or dumb just something stupid with somebody, just
had a good laugh over being stupid together.
Number four—indulge in some sort of recreation.
Enjoy and indulge in some sort of recreation, whether it’s golf, running, biking, fishing, antique
hunting, whatever it is that you like to do, something that gives you a break, and causes you to
A lot of people burn out in business and have nervous break downs. They’re constantly fatigued.
They can’t enjoy life. Their health breaks down. Some people are built a little more stout than
others, but it eventually catches up with everybody.
So you need to get involved in some sort of recreation, have some sort of a hobby. Because if
you don’t take some down time, and do something that fills up your tank emotionally, you will
break down, and then you’ll be forced to take off.
And if you lose your health, what kind of a price tag can you put on it? How much money can you
make to replace lost health? What kind of a price are you going to put on it?
You have a heart attack. What’s that worth? An extra hundred grand a year? Heart attack worth
that? How about having a nervous breakdown? Fifty thousand? What’s it worth? What about you
know, have something just in the nature of a chronic fatigue syndrome. Your system shuts down
because you never learned to rest. You know even God rested on the seventh day, and my
goodness, He didn’t need a rest. Let’s just say that your system breaks down and you can’t
function. Well, what’s it worth to you? An extra million? Is it worth it? You can’t put a price on your
Enjoy the fruit of your labor! The Bible says in 1st Timothy 6:17 that God,
1 Tim 6:17
… gives us richly all things to enjoy
I believe in living a balanced life. And you know what, I’m going after God hard. And I’m doing my
best to be the best pastor I can be. And I preach, I put 100% into it. When I study, I put 100% into
it. When I pray with people, I put 100% into it. But I don’t want to be a flash in the pan. I don’t
want to burn out by the time you know, by the time I’m 50, which is not very far away. I want to
make it to the end of my race.
The five things we talked about:
Number one: I will not worry about what others think of me.
Number two: I will keep unity.
Number three: I will keep my temper.
Number four: I will be faithful.
Number five: I will not forget to enjoy where I am right now.
Better Business #5
Let me talk to you about Leadership Distinctives.
There are seven distinctives of successful leaders. And I am going to use the word S-U-C-C-E-SS
as an acronym.
The first letter in the word “success” is S: The first word is “see”. Successful leaders SEE into the
future. They are not just managers. They are visionaries.
There is a difference between a manager and a visionary. You have to take time to dream and
imagine what might be. In fact, I think it is important that you have regular scheduled time to
dream. Some people cease to dream. They get bogged down with the details, and they don’t take
time. And whether you take one day out of the week or a certain time every month or a certain
portion of a day, you ought to have time where you unplug the phone, you turn off your cell
phone, you lock the door, and you just get quiet and dream about what might be.
And as believers, we would take the brush of prayer, dip it into the ink of God’s word, and paint a
picture on the canvas of your imagination. God gave you an imagination for a purpose, my friend,
and it is important that you dream about what could be… not just trying to maintain where you are
now, but thinking about where you need to be in the days ahead. It’s very important. I think the
future is whispering to us all the time, but most people are too busy to listen.
I’m going to say that again: I think the future is whispering to us all the time, but most people are
too busy to listen. As a leader, as a business owner or as a professional person, if you stay so
busy solving problems and managing people and maintaining what you have so that you don’t
have time to dream, whatever success you may have achieved will probably be short-lived.
Every one of you has a future. You may be right now at this point unemployed. All right, your job
is to get a job. And you ought to spend… if you would spend eight hours a day in the office or
doing whatever you do, you ought to spend that time getting out and beating the streets and
doing whatever you need to do to get a job. But even if you are not employed at present, you still
ought to dream. You ought to think about what could be. Don’t get so bogged down that you can’t
see into the future.
Successful leaders see into the future. They are highly skilled in the art of imagination.
Look with me in the Book of Genesis 13:14. I’m going to read a couple of verses here that I
believe contain a principle… and you all will be familiar with the verse in Proverbs that says,
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” You need to have a vision. Genesis 13:14,
And the LORD said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: “Lift your eyes now and look
from the place where you are--northward, southward, eastward, and westward;
15 “for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.”
All that you see I give to you. You have to see it before you get it. And, I’m telling you, anything
you can see, you can have. You have got to see it in here, in your heart, before you can possess
it out here with your hands.
You know, Joshua came to the City of Jericho, this huge fortified city, and what does God say to
him? “Joshua, see, I’ve given you the city and its mighty men of valor.”
He told Joshua to see it already as conquered, to see the people already as defeated. “Joshua, if
you are going to get it, you have to see it first.”
Friend, if you are going to see it, you have got to dream. And any successful leader… I’m telling
you… any successful mother… and there’s not a mother that’s not a leader. You see into the
future for your kids. If you are just living day to day trying to hang on by your fingernails… and I
know sometimes we all feel that way with our kids. But you are seeing into the future, thinking
about what could be for your children, and you are doing your best, by the grace of God, to help
mold them and send them on their way.
You know, those are arrows in the hand of a mighty man. Well, how far they go and how straight
they go is going to depend on the person holding the bow. And, parents, that’s you. You have got
to be able to see into the future. I mean, what archer doesn’t look into the future? What archer
doesn’t look ahead to see where he is going to send the arrow?
So this applies whether you are a manager, whether you are a superintendent, whether you are a
company owner, a CEO, or a housewife. If you are going to be a successful leader, if you are
going to lead other people, you have to see into the future if you will be successful.
All right, the second letter in the word “success” is U: Successful leaders UNLOAD unnecessary
Successful leaders unload unnecessary baggage. With most businesses as competitive as they
are today, those carrying unnecessary expenses or unnecessary personnel won’t make it.
Sometimes the extra baggage can be a program or a new arm of the company that has been
added, and it can be hard to cut, especially if it’s a pet project or something you had a personal
hand in setting up. If it was your idea, if it was your baby, if you invested time and prayer or
whatever into it, and it’s not working…even though you realize it’s excess baggage and needs to
be snipped, it can be very hard to do it.
Now look at John’s 15:1. He might have been ruthless, but I would call it wise. And sometimes
when unloading excess baggage, you may have to make what some people will call a ruthless
call. You do it in love, but sometimes you just have to do it. See if this sounds ruthless to you.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit…”
Well, he keeps it there because he feels sorry for the branch, and he doesn’t want to hurt the
2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit
He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”
A successful leader will unload unnecessary baggage; will cut away unnecessary things. And
sometimes that can be a program. It can be this or that if it’s a drain financially. Sometimes it can
be a person that’s in a position. And that can be a very hard thing to do.
You know, John Mark went with Paul and Barnabas on the first missionary journey. And he got
homesick and quit on them right in the middle of the trip and went home. Well, the second
missionary journey Barnabas says, “Let’s take John Mark with us. Let’s bring Mark.”
Paul says, “No way! He’s a quitter. He’s a whiner. He’s a baby. He’s not going.”
And the Bible says the contention was so sharp between Paul and Barnabas over this issue with
John Mark that Paul said, “No, I’ve cut him loose. He is too much of a liability. He’s not coming…”
and Paul and Barnabas parted ways. They never traveled together again.
Now, later on, John Mark proved his worth. Paul writes about him in one of the gospels and talks
about how profitable he is. But that was a pretty ruthless decision! A lot of people, they wouldn’t
want to hurt John Mark’s feelings. But John Mark happened to be a liability, and Paul was the
leader. Paul was the successful leader. And he said, “We cannot take this along, not if I am going
to complete what God has given me to do.”
Now some people, you won’t be able to do it because you won’t do it, and that’s why you won’t
rise to a certain position of leadership because sometimes you just have to do it. Some people
will say you’re the bad guy. Sometimes you’re going to be misunderstood. It just goes with the
turf. Don’t you love it?
The next letter in the word “success” is C. Successful leaders CREATE an environment of trust.
The next letter “C” for create: Successful leaders create an environment of trust.
Now if you’re an employer, you do that with both your customers and your employees. If you’re a
leader on a team in a church, you do that with your team members and the people that serve
underneath you, the people that you give guidance to. You create an atmosphere of trust. Much
is not accomplished without an atmosphere of trust, and the only way to do that is to have some
good old-fashioned character. Be a person of integrity. That will create the atmosphere around
you. What you are on the inside will create the atmosphere that surrounds you. People will pick
up on it right away.
Keep your word to the people you work with; keep your word to your customers. Don’t break your
Successful leaders create an atmosphere of trust. If you’ve given your word, even if it costs you,
keep it. Even if you end up with “the short end of the stick”, it will eventually pay off if you do
create an atmosphere of trust. There is no such thing as a successful leader without integrity and
without character. There is no substitute for that.
You build an atmosphere of trust by being a person of your word and by keeping private things
You know, sometimes when you’re a boss, manager, or leader, whatever, people are going to
come and confide things in you that you know are private in nature. And if that comes back to
them from some other employee or some other person, you’re duck soup, baby! You have
shattered the possibility of that person ever trusting you again unless you go to them with hat in
hand and a bouquet of flowers and say, “Look, I’m a fool. I never should have done that. I broke a
trust. Will you forgive me?” And it has got to be just about like that.
If you can’t keep private things private, you are going to break trust. You will never have an
atmosphere of trust if you break the confidence of somebody that shares their heart, that opens
themselves up, that becomes vulnerable with you. You know, maybe an employee shares about,
“Hey, I’ve been having a struggle in my marriage. I’ve been flirting with this person or that,” and
that gets back around to them, bad news.
All right, the next letter is “C”, and that stands for CLEAR COMMUNICATION.
Let me just quote this to you. You can write the verse down. Successful leaders have clear
communication. Proverbs 13:17 says, “An unreliable messenger can cause a lot of trouble.
Reliable communication permits progress.” Let me quote it again, Living Bible: “An unreliable
messenger can cause a lot of trouble. Reliable communication permits progress.”
We are here in the Gospel of John. Look with me, if you would, at John 21:20,
Then Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following, who also had leaned
on His breast at the supper, and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”
21 Peter, seeing him, said to Jesus, “But Lord, what about this man?”
22 Jesus said to him, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you? You follow Me.”
23 Then this saying went out among the brethren that this disciple would not die. Yet Jesus did
not say to him that he would not die, but, “If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?”
24 This is the disciple who testifies of these things, and wrote these things; and we know that his
testimony is true.
Isn’t that an interesting thing to find at the end of a gospel? Jesus made a certain statement, and
somebody got it wrong and spread it around… and it stuck… that John wasn’t going to die. And
John, writing the gospel, says, “Man, I’m going to kill this stinking rumor because if people think
that Jesus said I’m not going to die, and now I’m old… I’m writing as John, the aged… and when I
die, maybe they are going to think that some of the other things that Jesus said aren’t true,
either.” And John said, “Look, that is not what He said. This is what He said.”
But, somehow, from this little meeting with the disciples after the resurrection, somebody got it
wrong, told somebody else who got it wrong… and it is so important that the Holy Spirit inspired
John to say, “That’s not what He said! This is what He said…” Now they are pretty close, but
pretty close can be pretty far.
Clear communication. Realize some things you must communicate over and over, and do it in
bite-size pieces. In fact, it’s always good to remember the process that you went through to end
up at your conclusions. Most generally we go through a process before we get set on something.
We see it, it’s clear to us, and maybe that was a six-month process before we got to that point.
Maybe it was several weeks, and it had to be shared with us again and again from different
angles, and then suddenly it dawned on me: “Oh, of course! That’s so easy!” That’s what we
need to do.
And so we get the people that we’re responsible to pass that on to, and we share it with them one
time, and we think they’re idiots because they don’t get it. That happens all the time. Did you ever
notice Jesus would say, “Again I say unto you…” Bite-sized pieces shared again and again and
There are some people, if you are in an organization who will just say, “Look, this is what we are
going to do.” And that’s it. You don’t need an explanation, necessarily. Other people, you have to
endeavor to lead them through the same process that you’ve been through if you want them to
see the same thing and understand the same thing you’re trying to understand. In fact, if you’ve
got something on the screen of your heart, sometimes it takes awhile to download that onto the
screen of someone else’s heart. You know, you’ve said a few things, and you pushed send, and
you turned your computer off, and only a sixteenth of the image got downloaded onto the screen
of their heart. And it takes a while to do that.
Now both oral and written communication must be clear.
Most of you will know this verse, Habakkuk 2:2. It says, “Write the vision, and make it plain, that
he may run who reads it.” Write the vision. Make it plain. So he that reads it can run. Now they
will either run from it, or they will run with it. But at least they will be clear on what you’re
communicating. Write the vision; make it plain.
All right the “E”. Successful leaders EVALUATE progress. The “E” stands for evaluate. They
evaluate progress. They don’t live with their head in the sand.
Look with me at 2 Kings 12:4. It’s an interesting story. It has to do with evaluating progress. Now
Jehoash is the king.
And Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the dedicated gifts that are brought into the
house of the LORD--each man’s census money, each man’s assessment money--and all the
money that a man purposes in his heart to bring into the house of the LORD,
5 “let the priests take it themselves, each from his constituency; and let them repair the damages
of the temple, wherever any dilapidation is found.”
6 Now it was so, by the twenty-third year of King Jehoash, that the priests had not repaired the
damages of the temple.
7 So King Jehoash called Jehoiada the priest and the other priests, and said to them, “Why have
you not repaired the damages of the temple? Now therefore, do not take more money from your
constituency, but deliver it for repairing the damages of the temple.”
8 And the priests agreed that they would neither receive more money from the people, nor repair
the damages of the temple.
9 Then Jehoiada the priest took a chest, bored a hole in its lid, and set it beside the altar, on the
right side as one comes into the house of the LORD; and the priests who kept the door put there
all the money brought into the house of the LORD.
10 So it was, whenever they saw that there was much money in the chest, that the king’s scribe
and the high priest came up and put it in bags, and counted the money that was found in the
house of the LORD.
11 Then they gave the money, which had been apportioned, into the hands of those who did the
work, who had the oversight of the house of the LORD; and they paid it out to the carpenters and
builders who worked on the house of the LORD,
In other words, the job got done. But here it is: Jehoiada says, “All right, this is the way we’re
going to do it. You guys collect the money, make sure that everything gets done.” All right, it’s
years and years. They’ve gotten all this money, and nothing happens. So what does the king do?
He hides his hand in the sand, says, “Oh, well.” No. He evaluates it. He says, “Guys, this isn’t
working. Why? Stop taking money.” And he adjusted.
But some people, it amazes me! They will give a job to someone, they will set the parameters for
something, they will maybe set some goals, and then that’s it! They never evaluate and see
whether anything is being accomplished or not. They sort of just stick their head in the sand and
sometimes even lose money. You have to stay up on those things. In fact, it’s been said, “People
don’t do what you expect. They do what you inspect.” And I think you can do that in a right spirit.
When your employees or team members have worked hard, and they’ve made measurable
progress, you should try and reward them. Go out of your way to praise their efforts or their
accomplishments. Sometimes one encouraging word is worth a week’s worth of work for
somebody. You give them one encouraging word, and that’s worth a week to them. One card,
they say, is worth a month. You write a little note to somebody, say, “Man, you’re the bomb!”
Man, they’re on it for another month just by you taking 30 seconds and writing a little card out to
them. And money doesn’t hurt, either. People like money.
If goals haven’t been reached or sufficient progress has not been made, you should ask why.
Here are four common reasons why:
The first one, there has been unclear communication. People didn’t know what was expected.
Sometimes that’s why there hasn’t been measurable progress.
The second reason why sometimes goals haven’t been met is because there have been
unrealistic expectations placed upon people. It’s never a good thing. If they’re working under
unrealistic expectations, then you are going to be mad when the goals aren’t reached, they’re
going to feel terrible because the goals weren’t reached, and sometimes people’s goals are just
There are three levels of expectation. Number one is what we can do to maintain where we are
and not fold, not go backwards. All right, what do we need to do to maintain? Some people live in
sort of a maintenance mentality.
But then there is another one: What could we accomplish if we worked hard, and we worked
smart? What could we accomplish if we worked with wisdom and really put our back into it? What
could we accomplish? And you can set a goal there.
And then there is the third area: What’s our biggest dream? What would our biggest dream be if
everything fell into place and we had a few miracles along the way? Now I think that’s good; but,
friends, everything doesn’t always fall into place. And sometimes people, they just expect
something out of somebody that it is just not going to happen. Jesus even said, “Some people will
produce thirty, some sixty, and some a hundredfold.” If you put a hundredfold expectation on a
thirty-fold person, they are going to be frustrated, and you are going to be angry.
Another reason why sometimes goals aren’t achieved, wrong people are in key positions. Not bad
people, but just perhaps not gifted for the job or maybe too busy with other things, and they can’t
concentrate on the job that you’ve given them or they have a maintenance mentality rather than a
growth mentality. And sometimes you won’t know until you put a person in a position that they are
not going to work. You think they’ve got every potential in the world. You like them, they’re
pleasant, they’re great to get along with; but you put them in there, and you realize that they don’t
have the stuff. And you don’t know it until you try them out. And you just say, “Look, it’s just not
working. We need to make a lateral move or move you over here or whatever.” And sometimes if
you keep a certain person in place, they are just never going to achieve what you need to get
And the fourth reason: Sometimes there are unexpected economical or political upheavals. We
live in a pretty crazy world.
I reckon the people that made luggage tags for a living had a rough go of it after 9/11. Somebody
has to make luggage tags… luggage paraphernalia. Think about the people that make luggage
locks. You can’t even lock… I don’t know if you know it or not, they don’t let you lock your
luggage, anymore. Some places you go, I can’t put a lock on there. I think, “I don’t want my
underwear coming out in Qualilumpoor, please!” They say, “I’m sorry, sir. You put a lock on there,
we’ll cut your lock.” They’ve cut my locks off my luggage! The airport people do.
So what if that was my company, and I made luggage locks? Well, who would have known that
people wouldn’t be traveling or that security would be such that you can’t have your piece of
luggage locked, anymore. All right, that’s liable to turn my little world topsy-turvy when it comes to
what I’m doing. Sometimes those things happen.
Now, thank God, God always has grace. Nothing takes God by surprise, and so I’m not trying to
put someone in a corner. But we need to realize that sometimes that’s why things aren’t
But you always need to evaluate. Get some answers and adjust… just like this king did in the
story. He said, “Hey, this isn’t working out. We’re going to do it another way. It should have
worked. You guys should have been the right ones. You weren’t the right people to do it. It wasn’t
the right way to do it. And so now they put the box there, and everything got accomplished
because he evaluated and changed.
“S”: Successful leaders seek out wise counsel. Proverbs 11:14 says, “In the multitude of
counselors, there is safety.” They seek out wise counsel from other successful people. Learn
from the mistakes of others. You do not have time to make them all, yourself. Learn from their
successes, as well.
I think you should also seek counsel from within the ranks of your own organization. And if you’re
a housewife, maybe seek counsel sometimes from your kids. Ask them some questions, what
they think. See, your employees, your co-workers, your kids, they are in the trenches every day.
Your employees, they deal with the customers, suppliers, manufacturing. They see everything…
the good, bad, and the ugly… and many of them have good ideas that can help you.
But the thing is, sometimes people that are out there doing it, they’ve got the ideas. It wouldn’t
hurt for all of you even to have an idea box. IDEA OF THE MONTH: Whoever has the best idea
this month, we’re going to treat you to dinner… and not Burger King. Or depending… if they’ve
got a million-dollar idea, do something better than that.
Get wise counsel.
The final “S”: SAVOR victories, but don’t live there. Savor victories, but don’t live there. The
Apostle Paul said, “Forgetting those things that are behind, I press on.” Savor your victories, but
do not live there. In other words, celebrate milestones, enjoy success and victories along the way,
but keep growing.
Most successful restaurants will occasionally change some items on the menu because they
realize they need to do that if they are going to keep customers coming in.
Now principles like personal service or proper communication don’t change, but methods can
change. Methods are not sacred. Almost everything has a shelf life, ideas included. What worked
and what was trendy ten years ago may not work today. It may have worked ten years ago
because nobody was doing it, but now everybody’s doing it, and you’re just another one in the
pack. It’s time for a fresh idea. And some people become obsolete. Their business becomes
obsolete because they’re not thinking ahead. They are savoring the victories, but they are living in
them, as well. Celebrate your milestones, but keep growing. Your greatest asset is the fact that
you can keep growing. You don’t have to stay the same.
And let me encourage you, it’s great to be successful, but you need to move from success to
significance. Just because you make a lot of money doesn’t make you successful. The “why”
behind it. Be significant.
Why prosper? Is it just so you can get your dream house and build a nice deck back there and
retire at 50 or whatever? I mean, is that success? That might be nice, but you know what? God
wants to bring success into your life so you can be significant, so that you can help people. Life is
a vapor. We are here for a little time, and then it vanishes away, and we are going to be standing
before God. And the resources that He brings our way, they need to be used for a higher
purpose, friend. Enjoy the blessings, and enjoy the goodness God brings into your life. Enjoy it
guilt-free. But realize God brings it to you because He wants to bring it through you.
Better Business #6
I’m going to talk to you about some basic Biblical facts on prosperity and poverty. You see,
neither one of those is an accident. They don’t just happen. And I realize some things happen in
some people’s lives… maybe you came into a large inheritance or some other thing happened…
but, generally, a person that prospers, it wasn’t just happenstance. It was something that was
engineered. And people that continually struggle with poverty when resources and opportunities
are available, that is not a coincidence, either. There are reasons.
People if they are ever going to prosper, need to be convinced from the Bible that it’s God’s will
for them to prosper. Some people just have to change their thinking and let it be changed from
the Scriptures. You need to let the Bible form your theology.
I can remember when I was a young Christian living in Oregon there was a leader in the church
there, and there was the doctrine taught that poverty was a virtue. And, friend, it’s not a virtue
unless it’s chosen. Now there may be some Christian orders and someone, for whatever reason,
has chosen a vow of poverty but, if it’s not chosen, it is not a virtue.
But that was taught, that it was a virtue and that prosperity was evil; and anybody that prospered
in any way, shape, or form, there was something wrong with them. They were somehow in league
with the devil. I mean, if somebody drove up in a nice car, they were immediately suspect. And I
remember I had a friend come to visit me, and I was kind of freaking out because I knew that they
were prosperous, and they had a really nice car. And I didn’t want anybody in the group to see
Well, if you’ve got any kind of thing like that in the back of your mind, you have to get into the
word of God and let the word of God form your opinions and form your theology. You’ve got to be
convinced from the Scriptures that God wants you to prosper before you can ever begin to
cooperate with Him and see His hand in your life bring that about.
First of all, let’s deal with some thoughts and facts about prosperity. One of the first things you
should learn about prosperity is that prosperity should not be the first thing.
In order for God to prosper you, your priorities must be right. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the
kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto you.” The things that the world is
striving after are the food and the clothing and all of the material things. Jesus said, “The spiritual
must come before the material.”
And I think we’ve really learned that in a profound way as we look at the story of King Solomon.
God appeared to Solomon in a dream and said, “What do you want? Ask Me. Anything you want,
I’ll grant it to you.” Solomon said, “Well, I’m a child. I need wisdom, and I need understanding so
that I can go in and out among this people and so that I can rule this people and judge this people
And the Bible says God was pleased with what Solomon requested. And God said to Solomo,
“Because you did not ask for long life for yourself, you didn’t ask for the neck of your enemies,
you didn’t ask for wealth, but you have asked for a wise and an understanding heart, I’ve granted
you what you’ve asked for so that there won’t be anyone before you like you or anyone after you.
I’m going to give you a wise heart, but I’m going to give you what you didn’t ask for, as well. I’m
going to give you honor, I’m going to give you a long life, and I’m going to make you crazy
wealthy.” And God blessed him.
God is blessed with that kind of a heart, the heart that realizes the spiritual comes before the
material… and first things first.
God wants you to be blessed. I’m absolutely convinced of it. But you have to have your priorities
right. In fact, look at Proverbs 22:4. It just shows us a little bit of divine order here. It says,
By humility and the fear of the LORD Are riches and honor and life.
What comes first? The riches, honor and life? Or, the humility and the fear of the Lord? All right,
humility and fear of the Lord are heart issues. Having a humble heart before God, having a
reverential awe and respect of God, that brings riches, honor, and life. Notice the wording: By
humility. Or as a result of having a right heart and a right attitude toward God, come riches,
honor, and life.
The first thing you need to learn about prosperity is that prosperity is not first… at least not
material prosperity. Prosperity of the soul should be first and foremost in your life, and then the
The second thing: A very important fact about prosperity that the Bible teaches is that in this
world prosperity gives power. In this world system that we operate in, that we live in, and that we
function in, prosperity gives power. It is a truth that is stated over and over. It may not sound very
spiritual, but it is a Biblical fact, and it is a fact of life.
Look at Proverbs 10:15,
The rich man’s wealth is his strong city; The destruction of the poor is their poverty.
It doesn’t sound like poverty is a virtue, does it?
Notice that: The rich man’s wealth is his strong city. Look at Proverbs 14:20.
The poor man is hated even by his own neighbor, But the rich has many friends.
Now it doesn’t comment on the morality of that. It just states it as a fact. We could say it this way:
Prosperity gives power.
Look at Proverbs 18:23,
The poor man uses entreaties, But the rich answers roughly.
The wisest man on earth wrote that. You ought to pay heed to it.
Look at Proverbs 19:4,
Wealth makes many friends, But the poor is separated from his friend.
And then look at Proverbs 22:7,
The rich rules over the poor, And the borrower is servant to the lender.
That’s pretty clear, isn’t it? The rich rules over the poor; the borrower is servant to the lender.
Prosperity gives power in this world system that we’re in. And, friend, this is the system that we
function in. Try and get along without money or without the things that we need. Thank God we
can work with Godly principles, but we need to understand how it works as well.
We’ve gotten on secular stations and different things. Money opened the door for that.
Just think if we would have gone to M-TV and said, “You know, we want to run a commercial. We
want to talk about Jesus, and we want you to do it for free because we’re poor Christians.” Do
you think we would have gotten in? No!
And, I’ll tell you, we had people respond to those things. In fact, I’ve got a friend… he was with
the band, ACDC. He got saved on the tour bus; and, actually, I had him do some of the
commercials. He has this really cool English accent, and he had his long hair and everything. And
so he did some of the commercials we ran on M-TV.
But the thing that gave us the clout is because we paid up front. In this natural world money gives
power, and that’s why it is the most dangerous thing God will ever trust you with. Some people
are mature enough to handle great wealth, others are not. It would destroy them.
You need to understand that money opens doors. The Bible says the wealthy, they have many
friends. They can answer roughly. There is a certain power and ability in doors that open with
that, and not everybody can handle it. So it is a dangerous thing. It requires spiritual maturity.
The third fact about prosperity: If you want to prosper, you need to work hard. Look at Proverbs
He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
That’s pretty clear, isn’t it.
Look at Proverbs 13:11.
Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, But he who gathers by labor will increase.
He who gathers by labor will increase. The New Testament tells us in 2Thessalonians 3, “If you
don’t work, you don’t eat.” It’s important to work. Whatever you do, you ought to do it with all of
Look in Proverbs 27:23-27. Here is just another fact about prosperity…very important.
Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, And attend to your herds;
24 For riches are not forever, Nor does a crown endure to all generations.
25 When the hay is removed, and the tender grass shows itself, And the herbs of the mountains
are gathered in,
26 The lambs will provide your clothing, And the goats the price of a field;
27 You shall have enough goats’ milk for your food, For the food of your household, And the
nourishment of your maidservants.
Now you need to realize this was written to people who lived in an agrarian society. Their
prosperity was measured in sheep and vineyards and crops. And this says in verse 23, “Be
diligent to know the state of your flocks and attend to your herds.” And everything else that we
read… those other verses about having enough milk, having enough wool, all of that… is
predicated upon knowing the state of your flocks. In other words, know the state of your business.
The idea of these verses is that if you will look well to your business, stay informed and keep
abreast of what is happening, you will have enough for yourself, for others, and enough to expand
Some people work hard, but they are so unorganized they never get ahead. They don’t even
know where they’re losing money. Some people that have small companies or people that are
working for themselves or even people working for somebody else and trying to manage their
own home, they don’t have a budget. That’s not a bad word. It’s not an anti-faith word. Jesus
even taught, “You know, if you are going to go build a tower, you need to count the cost before
you start lest you don’t have enough to finish and everybody would look at you, and you’re
embarrassed, and they call you a fool.” It’s important to budget. You need to know the state of
things. You don’t find out where you are financially by going to the ready-teller and getting a
statement when you take money out. Yet some people, that’s what they do. And they don’t realize
it may not reflect the last ten checks they wrote, and they’ve never learned to even balance their
checkbook. So they may work hard, but they are unorganized. They don’t know the state of their
business. They don’t know the state of affairs. They don’t know how much money they have.
They don’t really know where it’s going. They are not on top of things, and they will not get ahead.
It’s like they make money; they put it in a bag with holes in it. By the time they get it home, there
is nothing left in there. Very important: You need to be wise in these areas.
Now you take that down to a personal level: Learn to balance your checkbook. Learn to budget.
You can do it. And I know some people, you were raised in a home where that just wasn’t done.
You had no example, and you’re afraid to do it. Listen, you can learn. It’s not as difficult as you
think it is. You can learn to budget. You can get a handle on things. You can get out of that
vicious cycle that you are in right now of paying ten or twelve percent on your credit card and just
paying the interest, which you will be paying until you go to your grave, by the way. Take heart.
God will help you. Get around somebody who can give you some wise counsel, who can share
Know where you’re at financially. Use your faith. Spend wisely. And you know the old saying: Out,
in; Up, down…If your outgo exceeds your income, your upkeep becomes your downfall. So know
the state of your business.
The fourth thing about prosperity: Develop your business first before building your house.
Proverbs 24:27 says,
Prepare your outside work, Make it fit for yourself in the field; And afterward build your house.
Afterward. Now The Living Bible puts it the way that I stated to you: The Living Bible says develop
your business first before building your house, and I’m going to add, or before buying a new car
or a bunch of new clothes or new golf clubs or a boat, etc.
See, some people have begun to do well in business or they’ve received a raise at work, and they
immediately go out, and they’ve got to get a new car. And so they get into these allencompassing
loan payments they have to make or lease payments on a car or the loan
payments on the car, and they’ve gotten in over their head. They see a little bit of prosperity, and
they’ve just got to run out and do something. So they go out and get an $1,800 watch, and they
go, “We’re going to move into a bigger apartment.” Hey! It’s better to let your business develop.
You’ve got something that’s beginning to work. Let it develop, get your foundation firm, drive the
old car for another year, make the wardrobe work for a little bit longer.
Develop your business first, then build your house. And there is a lot of stuff all of us would like to
have. We want to have a bigger house; we want to build a room out there; we want to drive a
nicer car. But it would be wiser for you to let things develop first. Be wise. And that is not an
excuse to be miserly, guys, and not buy your wife an occasional gift and get her flowers. It’s just
an encouragement to be wise.
The fifth thing about prosperity: If you want to prosper, you can’t be afraid to clean up a mess.
Where no oxen are, the trough is clean; But much increase comes by the strength of an ox.
Other translations said, “Where there are no oxen, the stall is clean.” No oxen, a clean stall. But if
you have an ox, it goes to the bathroom in the stall, and you have to be willing to deal with that if
you want the increase that the ox can bring.
Is Solomon really concerned for oxen? Or, is he talking to us? He’s making an analogy. The guy
that wants to prosper… the woman that wants to prosper has to be willing to deal with some of
the same stuff that the guy that cleans out the stall has to deal with. And you know what I’m
You know, we could have a nice little church with fifty people, not have to worry about the staff
issues and so many personality conflicts and the challenges of having a big church. But I happen
to believe God has called us to reach the world. We want to impact the world for Christ, so we’re
willing to clean up the stuff in the stall and deal with some of the headaches and some of the
challenges that go with it.
I would rather occasionally have to clean up the stall and have a whole lot to sow into the gospel
than just have a nice little life with no problems and not have anything to give to the kingdom.
Give me the few challenges. Give me the shovel. I’ll shovel it out. I’ll deal with it. When it hits the
fan, I’ll clean it off the wall… whatever happens. Reaching the world is more important.
Eight Biblical reasons for poverty.
This first reason is withholding. Proverbs 11:24,
There is one who scatters, yet increases more; And there is one who withholds more than is right,
But it leads to poverty.
25 The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.
If you want God to release what is in His hand to you, you need to release what’s in your hand to
Him first. God does not bless stingy people.
When I talk to people, and they are in financial difficulty, in as kind a way as I can, one of the first
questions I always ask is, “Do you tithe? Do you honor God with your firstfruits?” Because, really,
there are so many principles; but, behind it all, there has to be a heart of generosity. Generosity
begets generosity. I’m telling you, it is a Biblical principle, a law of reciprocity: Whatever a man
sows, that shall he also reap. Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you: Good measure,
pressed down, shaken together, and running over.” You water others; you will be watered also.
So even though there are many other principles involved, and we can’t throw wisdom out the
window, there has to be generosity. Now the unfortunate thing is, in some circles, that is
preached as the beginning, middle, and end of everything… you know, if you want God to bless
you, you’ve got to give a major offering and put it into the bucket. And, friend, generosity is a part
of it, it’s foundational; it’s not everything. You are not going to walk in the blessings that God has
promised without having a generous heart. There is the one that withholds, and it tends to
poverty; but there is the one that scatters, and it causes increase. Interesting law of the kingdom,
Sometimes you think, “Well, I can’t afford to give that ten percent.” Well, first of all, it’s not really
giving it. I mean, it is God’s already. The Bible says the tithe is holy. It’s the Lord’s. And it’s
important that we respond in that way. In fact, I believe that tithing is your measure of obedience,
while giving is your measure of generosity. Tithing reveals your obedience. But giving reveals
The second Biblical reason for poverty: Refusing instruction. Look at Proverbs 13:18,
Poverty and shame will come to him who disdains correction, But he who regards a rebuke will be
Some are too proud to take correction or admit they’re wrong. They won’t listen to their family, to
their friends, to church leadership, to their boss, to their co-workers or to God. And it’s interesting
to me how problems follow some people around perpetually. They’ve got a story of mistreatment
and abuse: “Well, every job I’ve been at, they’ve mistreated me, and they’ve cheated me, and this
happened there. And that’s why I was fired, and I got let go.” And, I mean, you just look at their
whole history, and they’ve got this, “Well, it’s just because they did this and they did that and they
did this.” Most of the time, it really is because they had an unteachable, stubborn attitude that
continually has gotten them in trouble where they work. And that’s why it follows them
everywhere they go. And if it’s always somebody’s fault, and it’s been the last five jobs you’ve
been at, guess where the real problem is? It’s not with your last five bosses or supervisors. The
problem is with you! So be quick to repent. Be quick to receive correction. The Scripture is pretty
clear: Poverty and shame comes to the person that disdains correction.
The third Biblical reason for poverty: Living for selfish pleasure. Proverbs 21:17,
He who loves pleasure will be a poor man; He who loves wine and oil will not be rich.
It’s because they squander their wealth in the pursuit of pleasure. Now the Bible does teach that
God gives us richly all things to enjoy. But that should not be our main purpose for living.
And, I just believe in squeezing every drop of life you can out of each and every day. I believe in
making every day an adventure; and I, frankly, don’t think God put all these weird creatures at the
bottom of the ocean and all these colorful fish for the other fish to see. I think He made them for
me to see. And I don’t think God made all these beautiful snow-capped mountains for white
rabbits to make tracks in. I think He made them for me to ski in and make snowballs from and
chase my kids in and make snow angels.
I think that God wants to bless us. He wants us to enjoy the good things in life. But if that
becomes the number one pursuit in our life… just the lovers of pleasure, hedonistic people, then
we’ve missed the boat.
The fourth Biblical reason for poverty: Laziness. Proverbs 20:4,
The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.
The lazy man doesn’t take the opportunity to work. The old saying, “Laziness travels so slow that
poverty soon overtakes it,” is very, very true. Look in verse 13 of this same chapter. It says,
Do not love sleep, lest you come to poverty; Open your eyes, and you will be satisfied with bread.
All right, one of the greatest keys to success is just getting up in the morning. You’ve got a good
part of the problem whipped if you can just get up. Proverbs 24:30,
I went by the field of the lazy man…
Everybody say lazy man. Now, you know that’s generic. Now say lazy woman. Okay.
I went by the field of the lazy person, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
31 And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall
was broken down.
32 When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction:
33 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest;
34 So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.
And it pictures it that way because it will come on you suddenly, and you will be helpless when it
comes. God does not bless stingy people; God does not bless lazy people.
And I know there are some folks who say, “Well, I’m not working. It’s because I’m called into
ministry.” You may be called into ministry; but if the ministry does not generate enough support to
take care of you and your family, you need to make tents like the Apostle Paul did. There is
nothing demeaning about that at all. Maybe your heart burns to preach the gospel. That’s
wonderful! But the great Apostle Paul, who wrote more than half of the New Testament, also
made tents for a while. There is nothing wrong with it. You need to go out and get a job. It’s not
an excuse for not being able to provide because there are lots of opportunities there. In fact, if
you look at people that God called, he called busy working people. Jesus called Peter and
Andrew and James and John. What were they doing when He called them into ministry? They
were working! They were fishing. He called Matthew. What was he doing? He was working. He
was collecting taxes.
“But God has called me to do something great.”
Well, when God wanted a king over Israel, he sent Samuel to Jesse’s house. Had all his sons go
by. “Nope, no, not him, not him, it’s not him, it’s not him, not him.” And Samuel says, “Don’t you
have any more boys?” And Jesse says, “Well, yeah, there’s one. He’s working.” It was David. He
was the only one that was working. He is the one that God called. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
The fifth Biblical reason for poverty: Some come to poverty because they are always trying to get
something for nothing. Proverbs 28:19,
He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who follows frivolity… (the King James says
“vain persons”) …will have poverty enough!
20 A faithful man will abound with blessings, But he who hastens to be rich will not go
In other words, the one that wants to cut corners, that wants a get-rich-quick scheme, that wants
to get something for nothing… it says they will come to poverty. You have to work and be faithful
to God, and you will be blessed. Don’t be one of those that is always following someone that’s got
a new deal to help you get something for nothing or for very little work.
Proverbs 14:23 says,
In all labor there is profit, But idle chatter leads only to poverty.
There is something wrong if everybody you see is a potential customer rather than brother in the
Lord, when you are fellowshipping in the church setting. So you just need to be careful about
Some people come to poverty because they are hastening to be rich, and they’re following
frivolity or vain persons. You know, they are just trying to get something for nothing.
The sixth Biblical reason for poverty: Oppressing the poor. God takes this one personally, friends.
He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, And he who gives to the rich, will surely come
Look at verse 22,
Do not rob the poor because he is poor, Nor oppress the afflicted at the gate;
23 For the LORD will plead their cause, And plunder the soul of those who plunder them.
If you take advantage of the poor, it will come back to you good measure, pressed down, shaken
together, and running over. I’m telling you, God takes that one personally. You are liable to find
yourself faced with great lack if you have taken advantage of people who are struggling in the first
The seventh Biblical reason for poverty: Lack of knowledge. Proverbs 24:3,
Through wisdom a house is built, And by understanding it is established;
4 By knowledge the rooms are filled With all precious and pleasant riches.
In Hosea 4:6, God said, “My people perish because they have no knowledge.”
Isaiah 5:13, “My people go into captivity because they have no knowledge.”
You need to learn how God’s laws work, you need to learn how this world system works, and the
great news is a lack of knowledge can be cured. If you don’t understand how God’s laws of
reciprocity work and God’s laws of wisdom work, you can get into the Book and find out. If you
can read, you can understand it.
If you’re thinking about investing in real estate or investing in stocks or whatever, find somebody
that you can trust that knows their way around the block. Ignorance can be cured. There is a cure
for ignorance, but some people come to poverty just for lack of knowledge. They get involved in
stuff that they don’t know anything about, and it ends up biting them before it’s all said and done.
The eighth Biblical reason for poverty: Misfortune or natural disaster can be a cause for poverty:
Famine, war, persecution.
In I Kings 17, there was a great famine. Godly people went through it, as well. Elijah was there.
We look in the book of Ruth, Ruth and Naomi, there was a famine in the land. They experienced
great poverty for a season. But if you read the story, because those folks obeyed God and hung
onto God, God always brought them through. God always sustained them. And God brought
them to a place of prosperity.
And sometimes things happen that are beyond our control. Did you know there are believers in
Iraq? Do you think they have been affected in a material way by the persecution that was there or
even by the war that has just occurred? Yes. Do you think God loves us more than He loves
them? No. God loves them.
And, the thing is, if we hang onto God’s word, we learn His principles, God will sustain us through
those times. And God can bring us out to a broad place on the end. But sometimes those things
happen. We find it in the Scriptures, but we also find that God is faithful in the midst of those
things. He will bring you through.
I’m going to close with this thought: Though we are all for prosperity, we always must keep in
mind an eternal perspective. The Bible says in First Timothy 6:7, “For we brought nothing into this
world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.” If you have all the wealth in the world and you
do not have a relationship with God, you are the poorest of all people. To be materially rich and
spiritually bankrupt is a terrible thing, my friend.
Copyright © 2003 Answers with Bayless Conley