Last week, I said it’s important to plant long-term.
But planting isn’t enough. You also need to care for what you planted.
When I was in Grade school, I had a science project. I planted mongoseeds in a little pot. I watered that thing everyday. A few days later, I saw a little sprout come out. I brought it to school to show to my science teacher. I got an “A” for that project. But since the project was over, I put my pot in the backyard and totally forgot about it. A few days later, it was dead.
In the same way, it’s not enough to plant your dreams. You need to take care of the dreams you’ve planted. Planting takes one day. But working for what you planted takes many, many days.
Last week, I talked about Spring as the Season of planting. Spring represents ages 1 to 20.
Today, I’d like to talk about Summer as the Season of working. Summer is from age 21 to 40. That’s when we dive into our jobs or businesses and find our place under the sun. But it’s really anytime in your life where you’re trying to work on your dreams.
By the way, you’re God’s work. You’re God’s dream…
You’re God’s Masterpiece
The Bible says, For we are God’s workmanship. (Ephesians 2:10) In other words, you’re God’s work of art. You’re God’s magnum opus. You’re God’s masterpiece. If God were Leonardo da Vinci, you’re His Mona Lisa. If God were Michaelangelo, you’re His Pieta. If God were Frank Sinatra, you’re the song I Did It My Way. If God were Freddie Aguilar, you’re the song Anak.
Yes, it’s true that God created the mountains and oceans and valleys and stars and suns and planets, but the Bible says that you’re more beautiful than all of them put together.
Every fiber of your being, every sinew, every bone, every tissue, every muscle, every cell, your imagination, your intellect, your emotions, your soul, your spirit—each one is designed by God’s hand.
My point? You may have made mistakes, but you’re still God’s masterpiece. You may have messed up your life, but you’re still God’s masterpiece. You may have failed big time, but you’re still God’s masterpiece.
You’re Created To Do Good Works
Let me complete the Bible verse above: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do… (Ephesians 2:10)
That means you’re on assignment.
One day, a man was driving a car, swerved in the wrong lane, hit one car on the right, hit another car on the left, turned around a number of times. His car was a total wreck. His car looked like a can of Coke stepped on a few times. Bystanders looked at the warped metal that was his car and said, “The driver must be dead.” But the man stepped out of that car alive. Except for a bruise on his forehead, he was unharmed.
When he went home, he told his friends, “I didn’t die! God still must have mission for me to do!” That accident changed his life forever. He became a better father, a better husband, a better person…
But friend, you don’t need a life-threatening accident to realize that you have a sacred mission. If you’re breathing right now, it means you’ve got a Divine Assignment to fulfill.
The Bible says that when God created you, He created you to do good works. And He’s prepared them in advance. How advanced? When you were born, He gave you the raw materials you needed to do those good works.
4 Ingredients To Success
To be successful in life, you need 4 important ingredients.
This is my favorite topic, and I’ve preached about it so many times. But frankly, I don’t think I can preach it enough. It’s the most basic principle of success. Unless you get hold of your life purpose, you’ll never taste true success.
How do you know your life purpose?
It’s really very simple. Some people will try to make it look confusing, but it’s not. Simply look at the “raw materials” God has given you. Because when He calls you to a mission, He’ll give you the provision to fulfill that mission.
Specifically, look at two raw materials: To find your purpose, look at your passion and your potential.
Ask these two simple questions:
1. What are you passionate about? What revs you up? What do you love to do? What is the one thing you do that when you do it, you feel whole, happy, thrilled, relaxed, in your element, in your zone? What is the one thing you do that even if you don’t get paid, you’ll still do it?
2. What’s your potential? What’s your gift? What’s your anointing? What’s your expertise? What do you do that has the most impact on others?
Answer these two questions and you’ll know your purpose.
Problems create Success.
Without problems, you cannot be successful.
Confused? Let me borrow an illustration from Seth Godin.
To be a lawyer is a success. But to become a lawyer, you need to solve a lot of problems.
By the way, my friend lawyer told me this story. One day, in Heaven, the Pope arrived—and he met St. Peter and a bunch of angels welcoming him. St. Peter escorted him to his beautiful mansion. And as he was about to enter his mansion, a lawyer was entering heaven. And St. Peter rushed back to the Pearly Gates to welcome him. And angels—ten times the number that welcomed him—were now welcoming the lawyer too. The band was playing, trumpets were blasting, the choir was singing. And the Pope saw St. Peter bringing the lawyer to a mansion ten times bigger than the Pope’s mansion.
Later on, the Pope went up to St. Peter and said, “St. Peter, I’m not envious or anything like that. Just really curious. I’m the Pope. He’s a lawyer. When I came, you welcomed me with a small group of angels. When he came, you welcomed him with all the angels. You gave me a mansion, thank you. But you gave him a mansion that’s ten times the size of my mansion. Why?”
St. Peter said, “I apologize the seeming inequality. You see, we have many Popes in Heaven. This is the first time we’re having a lawyer in Heaven.”
Let me go back to my point: There are big problems to become a lawyer.
First, there’s the 4-year college degree.
Second, there’s the 4-year law degree. That means memorizing a huge mountain of thick books. That means tolerating professors who are suspected to be aliens from far away planets.
Third, there’s the Bar exam. A big test that drives some people to neurosis, psychosis, scoliosis, and halitosis.
But imagine for a moment if becoming a lawyer had no problems. Imagine if all that’s required is filling up Attorney’s Application Form. And you’re automatically a lawyer.
Then everyone will be a lawyer. And then it won’t be a success to be a lawyer anymore.
Here’s the equation: Problems create scarcity. And scarcity creates value. And value creates success.
Whatever problems you’re going through will be the source of your success. Without those problems, you won’t be successful.
Thank God for your problems!
What’s Your Problem At Work?
Your problem at work will be the source of your success.
And whoever solves the biggest problem will be the biggest success.
One day, a friend told me, “Bo, the biggest problem in my work is my boss! He’s a monster. I don’t know if he eats little children for breakfast. No mortal on planet earth one can work with him.”
I told him, “Whoever, by some miracle, can work with your boss and survive, and live to tell the tale, will be a very successful person.”
One friend told me, “Bo, I work with customer service. I really like the job except for one thing…”
I asked, “What’s that?”
I told her, “Problematic customers are the source of your success. Be known as the Expert who can pacify the most illogical, unreasonable customers. (For example: “I’m here to complain. Why does your donut have a hole in the middle?”) Be so good at it, that whenever there’s such a customer, they’ll ask you to handle it. (“Sir, the hole in the donut is there so you can insert your pointer finger in it, and with your thumb pressed on the outer rim of the donut, you’ll be able to hold it, avoid slippage, and bring it near your mouth to bite. But should you wish a donut without a hole, we’ll gladly make one for special people like you.”)
Another friend said, “Bo, I’m in accounting. I really like my job except for those days when there are discrepancies where I have to reconcile the books. If it were not for the discrepancies, I’ll be happy in my job.”
I told her, “Those discrepancies are the reason why you have a job. If there is nothing to reconcile, your company won’t need an accountant. Thank God for discrepancies!”
Do you want to be successful? Find the biggest problem in your company—and solve it.
A Butterfly’s Problem
One day, a boy saw a cocoon with a butterfly struggling to get out. He was awed when he saw the tiny opening, and the wing of the butterfly pushing out.
But it was exasperating to watch. The butterfly would push, then stop, then push again, and then stop again. Sometimes, it felt like the butterfly was about to give up.
After some time of watching, the boy decided to help the butterfly. He got a pair of scissors and cut the cocoon. Without a struggle, the butterfly came out with its swollen body and small, shriveled up wings. The boy was excited. He now waited for the butterfly to straighten its wings and fly.
But nothing happened. In fact, the butterfly lived the rest of its life crawling with its swollen body and small, shriveled up wings.
What happened? When the boy removed the “problem” of the cocoon—it removed the very thing that would have saved the buttery. That struggle of pushing through the cocoon was God’s way of forcing the fluids in the butterfly’s body to go to its wings, causing it to stretch and fly.
The problem was important for the butterfly’s success.
Your problems stretch your wings. Your problems force your core gifts to come out. Your problems develop you.
The Problem With Having No Problems
Kids who come from very rich families have a problem: They don’t have real problems.
Everything comes so easily for them. They don’t have to study hard, because Daddy can buy the school. They don’t have to work, because Mommy gives them a credit card.
These kids, if not guided, will be like that butterfly with the swollen body and small, shriveled up wings. Because they have no problems to solve, except what party to attend, what designer clothes to wear, what flashy car to drive, what expensive restaurant to eat in.
They walk around crippled.
Parents, don’t shield your kids from the regular problems of life. At a young age, let them earn their own money. Let them go through obstacles. Let them go through hard work. In time, you’ll see them flourish.
Success isn’t based on talent, genius, education, or wealth.
Success is based on perseverance.
At one time, my father was in charge of accepting job applicants in his company. He wanted to help a friend of his and so asked him to apply for a job. The guy comes along, takes the exam, and gets the highest score possible. My father said no one has ever gotten that score before. It was a world record. He was a genius. So the company hired him.
But the man refused to accept the job. From what I heard, he went from one low-paying job after another. And he died a poor man. Why? He couldn’t handle problems.
There are two kinds of weightlifters in the world. There are the regular-looking guys who lift weights—not much different than your next-door neighbor. And then there are the super Body Builders who become as big as a truck.
What’s the difference between the Regulars and the Supers? They practically do the same thing—lift weights.
The difference is the last few minutes of weightlifting.
Regular Weightlifters stop when there’s pain.
Super Body Builders break through that threshold of pain and keep lifting weights a few minutes more. Those extra few minutes of pain spell the difference between having the muscles of Superman or the muscles of Plastic man.
In other words, perseverance.
If you want to be ultra successful, you need to pass through that threshold of pain. 90% of people can’t stand the pain, and give up. These are the unsuccessful people. But 10% keep going. These are the successful people.
Will you go through the pain?
When The Going Gets Tough,
The Tough Get Going
When I started in business, I lost all my money. And I lost my confidence. And worse of all, I thought I was loosing my dream. A little voice in my head said, “Give up! God doesn’t want you to be a businessman. Just stick to preaching.”
But I didn’t give up. I plodded through. I got mentors. I studied. I persevered through those difficult years. Today, my businesses are doing well. If I didn’t persevere, I wouldn’t be where I am now as an entrepreneur.
Joshua Won Because Of Perseverance
Remember the story I shared about the 12 spies entering the promised land—and how they chose safety over growth? All twelve of them came back telling the people of Israel what a beautiful place Canaan was, but ten of those spies said, “We can’t go there because the giants will crush us!”
Only two spies said, “No, God will give us the land.”
As in most situations in the world, the majority ruled. The Israelites went back into the desert. And how long were they stuck in the desert? Forty years.
One of those two spies who said they could take the land was a young man named Joshua. And here’s what’s amazing: For forty years, he never gave up his dream of entering the promised land. And sure enough, already as an old man, Joshua was the one who led Israel into the promised land.
Joshua persevered for 40 years.
Can you be like Joshua? Right now, your dreams may be on hold. Many obstacles are on its path. People around you aren’t cooperative. They don’t believe in you. Will you persevere? Will you hold on? Will you keep your dream alive?
Don’t give up. Keep working for your dream.
The fourth ingredient of success is almost the opposite perseverance. But it really isn’t.
Prudence means good sense. Wisdom. Discernment.
Prudence means knowing when you’re supposed to persevere and when you’re supposed to quit.
Don’t be shocked by what I’m going to say next: Successful people know when to quit.
Jesus talks about quitting:
A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, “For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?” “Sir,” the man replied, “leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.”(Luke 13:6-9)
God created you to bear fruit in abundance.
You were born for greatness.
But you were created to be a superstar in one or two fieldsonly. You can’t be equally great in five fields or ten fields.
It’s time to quit a field if you’ll never be a superstar in that field. It’s time to quit if you’re not using the core gift God has given you.
No, you don’t have to quit your job right away. Don’t be trigger-happy. While staying in your dead-end job, look for your dream job. Or start your dream business on the side. Quit only when your dream job is waiting for you. Or quit when your business is already earning money.
Forget Your Weakness;
Focus On Your Strengths
Focus is everything. Focus is the secret to success.
Decades ago, I used to do admin stuff for the ministry.Coordinating. Scheduling. Organizing. I basically bombed. I’m not very good with details.
One day, I quit. I delegated it. Because no matter how hard I tried, I’ll never be a superstar administrator. Instead, I used my time to preach and write—and became better at them.
Decades ago, I used to do personal counseling. Total strangers would call me and we’d sit down together for hours.
I quit that too, because no matter how hard I tried, I’ll never be a superstar counselor. Other people can do it ten times better. I noticed that after listening for 2 minutes, I start preaching. I tell the counselee what to do—which is a big booboo in counseling.
Years ago, I used to compose worship songs. I loved doing it. But I quit that too. Believe me, it was difficult to quit. Because I was attached to it.
But I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I’d never be a superstar songwriter. I noticed the songs I made had this perpetual 70’s feel. Musically, I was a dinosaur.
By God’s mercy, I’m successful now because I learned to quit.
I repeat: Successful people know how to quit.
If you want to be successful, quit improving your weaknesses.
Use all your time and energy to improve your strengths.
(Note: Obviously, I’m talking about your profession here. This “quitting” doesn’t apply to your family relationships!)
And let Him use you.
What Are You Riding?
Summer is about moving everyday towards your purpose.
People can be very busy, going here and there, doing this and that, yet if they don’t know their life purpose, they’ll always feel unhappy.
My little boys have a rocking horse. It’s really nice. My kids can ride on it and had so much fun. But when my kids became older, they no longer rode the rocking horse. They rode real horses. You can ride one for a few pesos in Tagaytay or Baguio.
There’s a giant difference between a rocking horse and a real horse. The rocking horse, no matter how much you rock, doesn’t go anywhere. The real horse moves and brings you somewhere.
Let me ask you a question: Are you riding a rocking horse or a real horse? Everyday, do see yourself moving towards a finish line, a goal, a mission, a dream, a purpose? Or are you rocking back and forth, yet still staying in the same spot?
May your dreams come true,