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God’s Strategy for Your Success: 4 Principles


Learn from your mistakes. In Joshua 1:7 God tells Joshua, “Be strong and very courageous and be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you. Don’t turn from it to the right or to the left [don’t get off track] that you may be successful wherever you go.” Be careful. Don’t get sidetracked. When you make a mistake, don’t get off course.

Mistakes are part of life. Everybody fails and makes mistakes. If you have made a mistake, welcome to the human race! We all make mistakes. We all blunder. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”

There’s an entire industry that makes a profit on your mistakes. They’re built around the fact that you’re imperfect. It’s the pencil eraser industry. If everybody were perfect, we wouldn’t need pencil erasers. Nobody would ever make any mistakes. There’s an entire industry making a profit off your boo-boos! Be corrected by your defeats.

Successful people learn from their failures. They learn from their mistakes. Unsuccessful people give up after their first failure.

A young executive came to a senior executive and said, “I want to know the secret of success.” The wise old executive said, “The secret of success, young man, is making the right decisions.” “Great! How do you learn to make right decisions?” the young man asked.

“By experience!”

“How do you get experience?”

“By making the wrong decisions!” the older man added with a smile

Edison said, “Don’t call it a failure. Call it an education.” Don’t call it a mistake, call it an education. If that’s true some of us are highly educated! Geniuses!

Joshua 7 describes the story of the defeat of the Israelites in a little town called Ai. Joshua and the children of Israel went into the Promised Land and won battles right and left. They took over Jericho, the most fortified city in the country, and they were triumphant everywhere they went. They couldn’t lose. They were invincible. Or so it seemed.

They became overconfident. They started saying, “Look what we’re doing!” instead of “Look what God’s doing!” “We can do it. We don’t need God. We’re doing this all on our own.”

Then they came to a little town named Ai with several hundred people in it. They said, “That’s nothing. Let’s just send out a platoon to wipe those guys out. We don’t even need to send our army.” They sent out the platoon and lost the battle. They were failures. They turned tail and ran.

Joshua comes back and cries before the Lord, “What’s happening, God? You brought us through the Red Sea. You brought us through the desert. Forty years and You brought us to the Promised Land. We’re winning big victories and then some little, two bit town embarrasses us.” Isn’t that the truth? It’s the Ai’s of life that kill us, not the Jericho’s. It’s the little things that can destroy us.

Joshua tore his clothes and he fell face down on the ground before the ark of the Lord and remained there until evening. Joshua is praying and weeping and God comes to him, and in verse 10, God says to Joshua, “Stand up, what are you doing on your face?” Get up and do something about it. Verse ten tells us, “Israel has sinned and they’ve violated my covenant.” When they were taking the city of Jericho, one man named Achan kept some of the spoils of the war for personal profit and God had told them not to keep any of the spoils of war in that particular battle. One man disobeyed the Lord and his disobedience affected the rest of the people.

Joshua got to his feet, found Achan and his family,  and confronted him with this sin. They punished the man and from that point on, God gave them victory again.

What’s the point? When you have been defeated, when you’ve failed, when you’ve made a mistake; simply discover the cause and take the appropriate action. That’s what made Joshua a successful person.

Great achievers know how to do two things:

1) They’re big enough to admit it when they’re wrong. They can say, “I was wrong.” They can admit error.

2) They do something about it. They don’t just stand there and moan and groan and have a pity party. They do something about it. They learn from their mistakes.

We always learn more from failure than we do from our successes. I cringe at some of the mistakes I have made in my life. There have been times when I made some poor judgments, did some dumb things, and really embarrassed myself. I cringe at those memories. But I’m also grateful for the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

It’s wise to learn from your mistakes; it’s even wiser to learn from the mistakes of other people. It’s wise to learn from experience, but it’s even wiser to learn from the experiences of others. You don’t have time to make all the mistakes yourself. Life is too short. Let some other people make the mistakes and learn from them. Read biographies. Be open. Be teachable. Ask God for insight when other people have fallen. Say, “God, what should I learn from that?”

Be corrected by your defeats. Try to learn from others as they face defeat.


Joshua 1 is filled with promises from God. God says over and over, “Joshua, you can depend on Me. You can count on it. You can bet your bottom dollar! I’m going to be here. I’m going to take care of you. I am dependable!” In this passage there are four things that God promises to do if we will obey Him in every area of life. And they are amazing, unbelievable guarantees.

1) God promises if we obey Him, his power. v. 5. “No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life.” If you are in tune with God, you will be invincible. Nothing can stop you.

2) God promises His protection. v. 5 “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you. And I will never leave you or forsake you.” God says not only will nothing stop you, but nothing can harm you because He is with you.

3) God promises prosperity. v. 8 “Do not let this book of the law depart out of your mouth but meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything [not some things] written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” I didn’t say that; God said that! You will be prosperous and successful if you obey all the principles in God’s word.

Am I saying God wants every Christian to be a millionaire? No, not at all. The Bible’s definition of prosperity: Having more than you need. And God says, “I guarantee you’ll have more than you need.”

Look at v. 4, the territories promised to Israel, “From the desert in Lebanon to the great river of the Euphrates.” That’s clear over to Iran. From all the Hittite country to the Great Sea. That’s the Mediterranean. Now you know why the Israelites still argue over the borders, the West Bank and all that. They say, “Rightfully God gave us all this land. All of it is ours by divine right.” When you look at that much land, did they need that much land? No way.

This principle says that God always gives in abundance. He promises power, protection and prosperity.


Verse nine tells us, “God will be with you wherever you go.” That’s an amazing guarantee. The condition is obedience to everything God says in His word. Verse 7 tells us, “obey all the law” and verse 8, “be careful to do everything written”. You don’t get to pick and choose the rules you like and then throw out the rest. God says there’s a reason for every principle in the Bible and if you obey them all He promises power, prosperity, protection and His presence in your life.

Joshua 24:15 summarizes Joshua’s life and why he was such a fantastic success. Joshua is saying, You guys make a decision. Decide if you’re really going to be for the Lord or not, but don’t be luke warm, wishy-washy. “If serving the Lord seems undesirable to you then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve whether the gods of your forefathers served beyond the river or the God of the Amorites in whose land you are living. But [this is the key to his life] as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Regardless of what anybody else does, Joshua decides he is going to live for God. He is going to be committed to Him. And so is his family and his household. That declaration summarizes Joshua’s life.

God has clearly outlined these principles of success in His word. He says,

1. Be clear in your direction. Have a clear goal, not a vague goal. Know exactly what you want to accomplish.

2. Be confident in your desires. Don’t second guess yourself and don’t doubt and be double minded. God can speak through your desires. Don’t let experiences or emotions or excuses rob you of confidence.

3. Be committed to your decision. Don’t be afraid of committing yourself to a marriage, to Christ, to a church, or to leading your ministry. Or all of the above! Don’t be afraid. The only way you accomplish anything is by commitment. Don’t let problems or pressures or people tempt you to give up.

4. Be corrected by your defeats. If you’ve made a mistake, welcome to the human race. Ask forgiveness, correct the action and move on.

5. Be conscious of God’s dependability. God says, “You’re not doing this alone. I am with you. I’m here. Tune to Me. Look at the things I want to promise you if you’ll just live in the way I meant for you to live in the first place.”

Now, I encourage you to answer the questions below. Give them some serious contemplation.

1) Do you know where you’re headed in life? Where are you headed? What are your deepest desires? What are your goals? Are they clear? Are they specific? Are they worthwhile? Are you letting other people determine what’s important?

2) Are you confident in your desires? Or do you fall victim to double mindedness and doubt? Have you let your past control your future? Do you allow yourself to be manipulated by a bad memory? Do you tend to base your decisions on your moods? Do you say, “I don’t feel like it”? Do you find yourself making excuses for not even trying?

3) What are you really committed to? Anything? A guaranteed way to be miserable is to live your life only for yourself. Don’t be afraid of making commitments in your ministry. You will never be a successful leader until you are brave enough to make the necessary commitments to those you serve.

4) What are you learning from your mistakes? Can you see what God is trying to teach you? Are you open to change? Can you admit it when you’re wrong? Or do you just stubbornly keep making the same mistakes over and over?

5) Are you willing to follow God’s instructions? Are you willing to say, “God, I want to follow You, regardless.” Are you fully surrendered?

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Dr. Rick Warren is passionate about attacking what he calls the five “Global Goliaths” – spiritual emptiness, egocentric leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease, and illiteracy/poor education. His goal is a second Reformation by restoring responsibility in people, credibility in churches, and civility in culture. He is a pastor, global strategist, theologian, and philanthropist. He’s been often named "America's most influential spiritual leader" and “America’s Pastor.