Admiral William H. McRaven, a 40 year Navy Seal, gave some solid advice when it came to being successful in life: “It may seem like a very mundane and insignificant task. But, if you make your bed every morning, you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride and will encourage you to do another task. Then another, and another. And by the end of the day, that one task completed will turn into many tasks completed.
Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that the little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you’ll never be able to do the big things right. And if by chance you have a miserable day, you will come home to a bed that is made. A bed you made. And a made bed gives you encouragement that tomorrow can be better. So, if you want to change the world,” McRaven concluded, “start off by making your bed.”
That was the first piece of advice that I gave to the 2019 graduating class of LBJ High School last Sunday at the annual Baccalaureate Service sponsored by the Johnson City Ministerial Alliance. McRaven gave some rock-solid counsel that also happens to be biblical. Jesus said, “If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones.” (Luke 16:10) This not only applies to graduates, but to every person, especially in this day of no commitment, quitting early and safe spaces.
The second bit of guidance was “Stay on the Road.” Upstart comedian Dennis Miller was told by seasoned comic Jay Leno that the key to success was to simply “Stay on the road. I know the road looks crowded now, but I’m telling you, everybody starts going off the road for pleasures, or neuroses….”
The younger humorist took that advice to heart for the next forty years saying: “I was smart enough to think: Don’t drink, don’t get loaded; I’ve never done drugs or anything…and it was true. I just worked, and shut up, didn’t get loaded, and [the road] opened up.”
A person who is self-disciplined enough to understand their purpose and can stay focused on the task at hand, has a much greater shot at a successful life.
Jesus said the same thing: “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Now, Jesus is referring to staying on the narrow road that is living for Him which starts first by believing in His death for forgiveness of sins. Not an easy thing to do with so many distractions and too many belief systems. But the principle of staying focused, looking straight ahead, and staying on the road can also be practically applied to every area of life.
The last piece of counsel is the most important: “Seek God First!”
Jesus gives a wonderful promise to those who choose to make God a priority. All the things we worry about, struggle with and get distracted by, fall to the wayside when we take this to heart: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:33)
This means making Him your habit in life, living in such a way that you are always mindful of the Lord Jesus. Christianity doesn’t begin and end on Sunday only; it’s life lived always mindful about what God cares about, with a willingness to say, “Yes, Lord;” “I will Lord;” then living it out.
Instead of getting anxious about your future talk to God first about it!
A noted young concert artist was asked the secret of her success with the violin. “Planned neglect!” she replied, then explained: “Years ago I discovered that there were many things which demanded my time. After washing breakfast dishes, I made my bed, straightened my room, dusted the furniture, and did a host of other things. I then turned my attention to violin practice. That system, however, failed to accomplish the desired results. So, I realized I had to reverse things. I deliberately set aside every-thing else until my practice period was ended. That program of planned neglect accounts for my success!”
Prioritize daily prayer and Bible study, even if you must neglect some secondary things (like making your bed).
Strive to live out the rest of your day as a “living sacrifice”, willing to give up everything for the sake of Jesus. No matter what, represent Christ.
Want a successful life? Want to be free from worry and distraction? Make your bed, stay on the road and seek God first.
“Let us give up our work, our plans, ourselves, our lives, our loved ones, our influence, our all, right into [God’s] hand,” wrote China missionary Hudson Taylor (1832-1905), “and then, when we have given all over to Him, there will be nothing left for us to be troubled about.”