Friday, September 09, 2005

Success, the World's Way

Greetings all,

Here is my first shot at starting the books. I will be taking them chapter at a time. I do not know if I will have time to do one a month, but the steady flow of chapters should make this interesting. Since the BWW team (as well as many of the others) hand out 'The Magic of Thinking BIG' in their starter kits, that seems to be a good logical first choice.

Magic of Thinking Big

David J. Schwartz

Chapter 1 – Believe You Can Succeed and You Will


Definition of success

Means of personal prosperity…a fine home, vacations, travel, new things, financial security, giving your children maximum advantages…winning admiration, leadership, being looked up to by people in your business and social life…freedom from worries, fears, frustrations, and failure…self respect….happiness and satisfaction from life….winning, achievement…the goal of life! (pg17)

The author appeals to the biblical text referring to having enough faith to move mountains if only you believe.

The author makes a distinction between wishful thinking and truly believing. Wishing is just desiring something, but lacking the true faith to get it. Believing is when you have faith. “When you believe I-can-do-it, the how-to-do-it develops”(pg18).

The powers of success are defined as ‘belief’ being the positive power and ‘disbelief’ being a negative power. “Think doubt and fail. Think victory and succeed.” (pg 20).

The author writes about three guides to develop belief (directly quoted from pg 26):

  1. Think success, don’t think failure.
  2. Remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are.
  3. Believe Big.

There are a series of awards listed on page 27:

Deeper respect from your family, admiration from your friends and associates, feeling useful, being someone, having status, increased income, and a higher standard of living.

Here is a suggestion that I found puzzling (page 28):

Select for special study the two most successful and the most unsuccessful people you know…Notice also how studying the two extremes will help you see the unmistakable wisdom of following the truths outlined in this book.

Christian Refutation

The definition of success provided by Dr. Schwartz is dangerous from the biblical view. The first subset is all material things. The implication is that if you have material things, you will have arrived. 1 John 2:15

Love not the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

The next subset is about status. The bible is very clear that when you seek your fulfillment in status, you have set yourself up for pride. For this, I will suggest a read through James chapter 4; the first 6 verses. James 4:6 “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”

The text quoted about moving mountains is quoted totally out of context. The context Dr. Schwartz is using it in is a very selfish God-give-me-my-stuff context taken from Word-Faith material. The text is Matthew 17:20. The statement that Christ made was hyperbole [an exaggeration to demonstrate the point] to tell the power that we have when we FULLY SUBMIT TO THE POWER OF GOD. Such submission does NOT include having a belief and faith that God will fulfill our every earthly desire. In fact, suffice it to say that if you have the desire for Him to fulfill your earthly desires, you might want to check that relationship. Read again 1 John 2:15.

While it is true that words possess some influence over our lives (James 3:1-12; pay special attention to verse 8 however “But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison.”), we, as people, do NOT have the power to create with a word (this is a power reserved for God).

“Remind yourself regularly that you are better than you think you are” this quote lies in total opposition to the biblical account. The biblical account requires an acknowledgement of how wretched we are as a people. Romans 3:10-18:

as it is written,
there is none righteous, not even one;
11there is none who understands,
there is none who seeks for god;
12all have turned aside, together they have become useless;
there is none who does good,
there is not even one.
13their throat is an open grave,
with their tongues they keep deceiving,
the poison of asps is under their lips;
14whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness;
15their feet are swift to shed blood,
16destruction and misery are in their paths,
17and the path of peace they have not known.
18there is no fear of god before their eyes.

Romans 5:13 tells us that the law is provided to show what sin is, and thus are in need of a Savior. This Savior is Jesus Christ, not our own words nor our success principles.

As for studying the most and least successful people you know, first I would like to point out that the definition of success falls very short of the mark. Next, what good does it do to compare two totally separate people? God has made them each with their own advantages and disadvantages, gifts, skills, etc. To label one as successful and another as unsuccessful could be dangerous, especially if your definition of success is in line with the definition provided.


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