Traits for Success
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I’ve been watching the TV series The X Factor, in which singers across the United States participate in a huge talent show contest where the winner will be awarded a multimillion-dollar recording contract. For those unfamiliar with the show, in each episode the judges choose who will move on to the next level in the competition, based on talent, of course! But there’s another trait that they’re also looking for. They want someone who will reliably deliver.
Of course, performing artists aren’t the only ones who need to be reliable.
Coach John Wooden—considered one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time—talks about some of his basketball players who had reliability and what that meant to him. In the book, Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, he wrote, “Curtis Rowe was one of my most consistent players. Although he wasn’t usually spectacular, he consistently played at a very high level and made it look easy. I could have almost penciled in his stat line before the game began.”
After having watched a few episodes of The X Factor, and having read that excerpt from Coach Wooden’s book, I began to notice this trait in certain Bible characters as I read their stories. Of the 50 Old Testament miracles listed in the concordance at the back of my Bible, close to a third of the miracles are by the hand of Elijah. And as I was reading episodes of Elijah’s story in the Old Testament I was struck by the immediacy and reliability of Elijah’s obedience to God. God calls, and Elijah shows up.
Merriam-Webster gives this definition for reliability: “1. Suitable or fit to be relied on: dependable; 2. Giving the same result on successive trials.” That second definition sounds a lot like what God found in His relationship with Elijah in the following scenario. God gave Elijah a command, and Elijah obeyed. “The word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.’ So Elijah went.”1 And that’s just one of the many verses that reflect the kind of relationship that God and Elijah shared. Perhaps it was only when God found Elijah to be reliable that God continued to call on him.
Understanding this better has made me realize that the people whom I treasure both in my work and my personal life are those I know I can rely on, whether it’s with deadlines or when I need the comfort of a trustworthy friend.
Coach Wooden describes the characteristics of a reliable person in this way: “When we are reliable, others know that they can depend on us. They know that we will make the effort to do our best, whatever the situation might be. They know we won’t run, cower, or become paralyzed by fear. They have learned to count on our consistency and trustworthiness. We’ll still be there making the effort to do our best long after the weaker ones have faded.”
Reliable people are treasured wherever they are found. You may love that you can count on a certain best friend to always show up when you need to vent or whatever, but can that someone count on you in the same way? We may love that God is so reliable and utterly trustworthy, but can God also count on us to show up when He calls? Do you want to be the person that people count on? Do you want an edge in almost any sphere of your life? Try reliability and see what it will do for you.—T.M.2
A more effective you
We all want to be effective, because that essentially means we accomplish what we set out to do. An effective tool is successful in the work it is intended for. An effective marketing campaign means that the target audience is made aware of the benefits of a product and chooses to use it. An effective teacher is someone who not only teaches well, but has well-trained students to show for it.
The Oxford Dictionary describes the word effective as “successful in producing a desired or intended result.” Effective people share similar traits or “habits.” They begin with the end in mind.
Everything in life becomes more challenging when you’re not clear about what you want in life. If you’re not sure of your values, goals, and what you are working toward, life can seem a bit aimless. In his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens, Sean Covey suggests creating a personal mission statement which can act as a road map and direct and guide your decision-making process. A mission statement is a motto that states what your life is about. It’s your life’s blueprint.
Knowing what you’re working toward helps you stay on track and appreciate why you make all the effort you do. As Brian Tracy said in his book Eat That Frog, “If you don’t set goals for yourself, you are doomed to work to achieve the goals of someone else.”
As Christians, we also need to keep in mind the reason for living a godly life. While planning ahead for our life on earth is important, we can’t forget that this life is temporary, but our spirit is eternal. Paul told Timothy, “Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.”3
In this passage, Paul refers to “storing up for the time to come” to describe making a spiritual investment, which is what you’re doing every time you do something that benefits you spiritually.
A challenge for investors is that there are always so many great temporary things to spend money on. A new car, a bigger house, travel, or vacations—which would all be fun right now, but if you were to spend all your savings on them, you’d regret it later when the time arrived to retire and you needed to rely on those funds. Remembering that this world is not our final destination and that we’re working toward a heavenly reward can help keep us from getting too caught up in an endless rat race. It’s human nature to be tempted to compare with those who have more (although ironically, we often forget to remind ourselves of those who have less), and we end up like the proverbial horse with a rider who dangles a carrot on a stick in front of its face. The faster the horse runs, the faster the carrot goes, never getting any closer.
Beginning with the end in mind means thinking beyond the now and thinking about your future. Not only will it help you reach your goals, but it can also be quite exciting to envision where you’ll be at and what you’ll become in the future.—Tina Kapp4
Published on Anchor May 2018. Read by Jason Lawrence.
1 1 Kings 18:1–2 NIV.
2 Adapted from a Just1Thing podcast, a Christian character-building resource for young people.
3 1 Timothy 6:17–19 NKJV.
4 Adapted from a Just1Thing podcast, a Christian character-building resource for young people.