Who's Really In Control Of Our Financial Success?

Romans 8:28

"We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose."

I recently viewed a video of a motivational speaker addressing a gathering of ten thousand people. The man truly had an amazing story of success, in spite of grave personal adversity and offered a truly inspiring message. When listening to such an invigorating speaker, we all might tend to accept everything he says as sensible, after all this guy is "successful" and who are we to question his philosophies of success, right?

His opening line was one that is employed by many success-oriented speakers, "You are where you're at in your life because of decisions you have made. The level of success you have achieved is simply a compilation of all of your decisions and actions up to this point in your life." The speaker went on to say, "No one ever becomes a success if they can not first take responsibility for their current circumstances." This kind of statement is certainly an enigma and a tough one to come to grips with as a Christian. I thought for a moment, could he be right? Can we all just sit down and make a list of our life's decisions and accompanying actions and determine that we have steered ourselves to our present destination? Are we truly just the "captain of our own ship?" "How does God fit into all of this?"

"I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat, and if it keeps up, I change bats. After all, if I know it isn't my fault that I'm not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?"  

Yogi Berra

Throughout my career I have counseled hundreds, and through my seminars and other public appearances, tens of thousands. While it is clear that many of those seeking my financial advice had made bad decisions and seemed to me to be at least partly responsible for their financial predicament, many truly were victims. The stories would fill volumes; people who were facing financial loss due to actions of a business partner, spouse, natural or economic disaster, the economy, unexpected health problems, and the list is endless.

How do we deal with the reality that no matter what we do or what plans we make, in the end we can not control the final outcome? Show me a motivational speaker who uses that as an opening thought and I will show you 10,000 empty seats. How do we come to grips with the reality that even our best laid plans can and do fail? How can we look at all of the broken pieces of our lives and not feel guilty and hopeless?

Regardless of the reason our finances may be failing, God offers us a new perspective on life's challenges. He promises to those who love him an amazing gift. The gift is a new tomorrow, a renewed life, and that he will take our financial tragedy and create something even better than what we could have hoped for in our own "success plan."

What an unsettling thought that we are not ultimately in control of our own lives. It is, for most people, painfully obvious what they have done to contribute to their own failure. It is also our responsibility to strive each day to make the most of the material blessings that God has provided to us. In the end, we can not control the final outcome. Accepting this truth is a bold step, but realizing that our Heavenly Father can turn our failures into success provides the ultimate peace and security and true "success."

James L. Paris

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