"Four Secrets of Success: Thievery"
by Tom Goodman
July 26, 2007
In Psalm 35:27 (NCV) the poet said, "Praise the greatness of the Lord, who loves to see his servants do well." God wants to see you do well, and I believe there are four secrets to success:
I've already covered the first three secrets in the last three editions of LeaderLines. We began this series with the need for laziness -- not just any laziness, but sacred
laziness. The Bible has a lot to say about diligence and hard work, but the Bible also has a lot to say about rest and trust.
Then we looked at another secret of success: Ignorance. If you believe you are so intelligent that you can already decide something won't work before you try it, then you'll
never take the risks necessary for success.
Last week we looked at the third secret: Failure. Nothing succeeds like failure. We looked at Simon Peter to discover that failure doesn't have to be a roadblock to
success; it can be a pavestone on the road to success.
Now we come to the fourth secret of success: Thievery. If others are already succeeding in the areas where you want success, do it their way. Be humble enough to copy what is working for someone else. Vance Havner said that he heard about a guy who
swore he was going to be original or nothing -- and he ended up being both!
God's Word says that originality is over-rated. The preacher of Ecclessisastes said, "What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. Is there anything of which one can say, 'Look! This is something new'? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time" (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10).
No one is truly original. Someone once said that true creativity is the art of concealing your source!
Let me suggest five things you need to do in relation to stealing what's making someone else successful:
First, seek out ideas worth robbing. In other words, find models of the success you want. Proverbs 18:15 (LB) says, "The intelligent man is always open to new ideas. In fact, he looks for them." Are you always on the
lookout for new ideas? I'm asking this not only in regards to business success, but success in this church. Those of us who lead the church need to quit praying, "Lord, bless what I'm doing." Instead we need to pray, "Lord, help me
to do what you are blessing." We need to look at the methods and the ministries that God is blessing and say, "Lord, help me to do that in my own ministry."
Here's a news flash: "If the horse you've been riding has died, dismount!" You don't keep beating a dead horse, and you don't keep trying to work a method that
doesn't work. Seek out new ideas; look for things that are working for others.
Second, steal to fulfill your purposes. Your aim is to learn from others, not become a clone of others. You will never succeed by simply trying to be someone else.
Third, steal to fit your context. Sometimes people will come back from a church conference or a business seminar and they immediately start trying to do the things that made that church leader or that businessman at the seminar so
successful. But you have to consider that you are in a different context than that conference speaker, and you're relating to different business customers or church prospects. We ought to steal ideas from these conferences and seminars, but
that doesn't free us from the hard work of adapting those ideas to our own situation.
Beware of what one minister called the "Saul's armor" syndrome. You remember when David first committed to go out and fight Goliath, Saul said, "Well, okay, but at least wear my armor since you're just a shepherd boy and you don't have any of
your own." But when little David put on the big man's armor, it didn't fit. And so David took it off and picked up the things he was used to using in defending his sheep: his staff and his slingshot.
We need to steal ideas from others, but we don't need to adopt things that don't fit us and don't fit our situation.
Fourth, steal it, but improve it. When you take a method or a program that someone else is doing, don't just adopt it uncritically. Look at it carefully and ask, "How can I take what's made him successful and do it even
You should steal ideas like you eat fish: Eat the meat and pick out the bones. No idea is perfect; everything you steal from another has room for improvement.
Finally, be willing to let others steal from you. Especially when it comes to church work, we're all on the same team. We need to make it easy for others to steal ideas from us. In that way, the kingdom is advanced and
the king is glorified. I'm not saying we should never copyright and sell our material, but I'm saying that we need to be as "open source" as possible when it comes to tools that advance the glory of God and establish his purposes around the
I hope you've enjoyed this four-part series. Some of you with keen memories will remember that this was the subject of a four-part seminar I was asked to teach on the weekend I came in view of a call as your pastor four years ago. God
"loves to see his servants do well" (Psalm 35:27, NCV), and so may God bless your pursuit of success his way!
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