The three keys to success in life are vision, faith and work. Vision, without faith and work, produces only visionaries: people who dream great dreams but never see them become reality. Even great faith must be expressed in some kind of action. According to the Bible, faith without works is dead (James 2:17).
Those who look with envy at the accomplishments of others often overlook the long hours of labor that were necessary to make these achievements possible. When the grass looks greener on the other side of the fence it is probably because they take better care of it over there.
Part of my work for many years has been helping congregations prepare for the arrival of a new minister. My last advice to the members is to go to the arriving pastor and say they want to get involved, offering to do whatever needs to be done. This call to labor also applies to pastors, so part of ministerial work is the responsibility of developing a working congregation.
God seems always to call busy people into His service. Moses was tending sheep when he received his call from a burning bush to deliver his people from slavery. Peter, James and John were hard working fishermen when Jesus called them to become fishers of men.
A few weeks ago, a couple arrived at our door who we’ve known since they where children. They are now missionaries on the other side of the world and are among many others from that tiny country church who are pastors and missionaries. How did we reach all these children who became so active in bringing others to faith? We worked at it!
Forty years ago, my wife, Pauline, and I stood looking at a large lot discussing its purchase with a real estate broker. “It’s a beautiful lot,” my wise wife said.
I saw the beauty surrounding us, but the lot itself looked pretty bleak to me. With the exception of a narrow ridge atop the hill at its rear, all the topsoil had been stripped from the lot leaving bare gravel. Still, my wife said it was beautiful, and knowing her eye for beauty was sharper than mine, and that the price was right, I agreed it would be wise to seal the deal.
As time passed, the beauty that Pauline had seen while standing on that barren lot began to appear, but not without a lot of labor.
Using a tractor equipped with a blade for grading, I shaped and terraced the large yard. My lady with vision developed flower beds and pointed out places for trees and shrubs at appropriate places. All these helped fulfill her dream of what this drab pile of gravel could become.
Now one of my first joys of the day is a trip to my upstairs office window to view our beautifully landscaped yard and to appreciate the handiwork of God in it all.
In the distance, rolling hills provide a scenic frame for the picture we’ve been developing all these years but these pleasant surroundings would not have come into being without vision, faith and work. These are the ingredients that make life good, but nothing works unless we do.