Tip #1: Get a notebook to write down all God reveals to you
Write down His plans and intentions for your life and the ways He wants you to achieve your targets; also write down all your observations about people and life around you.
And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. Habakkuk 2:2
There is a difference between looking and seeing. You can look at yourself as a divorcee or a poor fatherless child, for example, but it’s another thing to see yourself as God sees you. This Scripture speaks about the kind of godly vision that helps us see what we will be like in the future, what God has in store for our lives.
The first part of this verse teaches you to write down everything pertaining to God’s purpose for your life. You may see yourself as an outstanding entrepreneur (or as something else God has shown you); draw up a clear and detailed plan of your future actions. And if God really wants you to become an entrepreneur, ask Him what your line of business might be, what type of “commodity” you could offer people. There is a wide selection of businesses: book publishing, food industry, clothing industry, construction, and so on. Perhaps your interests lie in the arts? To be successful in your chosen profession, you have to study hard from a secular perspective and from the wealth of God’s wisdom in the Bible regarding your calling.
As far as I am concerned, I know God wants me to reach five million Ukrainians for the Lord. I’ve written down His vision, and now I am getting to work to accomplish it. I will preach and build churches; I will bring people to repentance, raise disciples, and send out missionaries to all corners of the earth. But that’s not all – God has other tasks for me and I write them down too.
Undoubtedly, God has an interesting agenda for you, but as this Scripture indicates, if you don’t write down His plans, you won’t be able to fulfill them in the best way possible. This is because writing down God’s visions will discipline your life. It will make you more responsible and precise in everything you do.
Even if you think you know the purpose of your life, consider it unknown until you have written it down. When a purpose is not fixed, it will be vague and unclear in your mind. Committing it to print helps your actions to be more organized and purposeful.
There was a time in my life when the media in Ukraine accused me of all possible sins. I could have left everything and gone to America or Africa. I don’t doubt for a minute that I would have become a successful preacher there by escaping the pressure I was under in the Ukraine. However, I know what I have been called to do and where God wants me to be. Dedication to His goal makes me strong enough to endure any hardship. When you are certain of God’s agenda, it is easier to dedicate yourself to its fulfillment.
Remember: Consider your purpose unknown until you have written it down!
I know my calling and that is why it is vital for me to be dedicated to fulfilling it. Being dedicated to one purpose gives the strength to overcome problems and difficulties. When you have got concrete work and plans set before you, then you can dedicate yourself to them.
When you look through your notes, you should think deeply of God’s purpose for your life and pray it through in the Holy Spirit. The practice that I suggest here is as follows: when you pray quietly in the morning, you should meditate on the things that you feel God is putting in your heart to do and the things He calls you to do. If you are a Spirit filled believer, capable of speaking in other tongues, you could let your spirit loose and begin to speak in other tongues. And you will have a wonderful time with God. While you speak in other tongues during your time of meditation, the Holy Spirit will give you some ideas and a picture of how you could fulfill exactly the things you are called to do.
Be prepared for God to suggest new ideas and strategies to help you fulfill His purpose as efficiently as possible. I advise you to pray about your calling in other tongues at least one hour a day.
Prayer in the Spirit is important because you don’t know what obstacle or difficulty you may encounter on your road to success. Your prayer will allow God to act on your behalf. He will begin to send you the people you need. He will ordain His angels to open doors for you. While you pray, try to picture in your mind the plans already fulfilled. Visualize your goal, and be armed with a plan and a picture; doing that will help you to achieve your goals, whatever the circumstances might be. This is in accordance with the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians:
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us. Ephesians 3:20
As you can see, we pray for our own benefit. What I mean here is: when we pray, we are not doing a service to God, we are not helping Him. When we pray, we become coworkers with God. While we are praying for a request or a need in our life, we are giving God an opportunity to go ahead and fulfill His desires in our lives. So, when we pray for our own benefit, it is to acknowledge the fact that we do not pray to profit or benefit God. Our prayers are meant for us. God does not need to be prayed for. Our prayers are meant to facilitate our life here on the Earth. The reason I make this statement is because when we grant prayer meetings to the members of our church, most of the time nobody comes. They probably think that the prayer is meant for the church. Apparently they forget that when they pray, they bless themselves, they pray for their own destiny and are blessed. And this is an advantage and a good thing when we spend time with God in prayer, because God is already willing to do much more for us than we dare to ask or think. So, our prayer allows God to act on our behalf.
Perhaps you cannot boast today of having an important position or being popular. If that is the case, don’t be disappointed. You have to learn to be happy even about small achievements. Every step that brings you closer to the realization of your dream is important. For instance, I am not at all upset that I am still far from the realization of my dream to bring five million Ukrainians to salvation. (So far, one million people have been saved through our ministry.) The repentance of one person makes me happy and confident that I am moving in the right direction. I know that He who is in me can do much more. I am praying for God to work a miracle. I’ve declared that and know (according to His Word) that it certainly will happen some day. I am sure the time will come when the twenty thousand will turn into millions.
I firmly believe that he who does not take time to plan his future is planning his failure.
I am sure your dreams will come true some day, too. If you are willing to take time to write down your goals and plans, pray, and read the Word daily, you can be sure that great results won’t be long in coming. Careful planning always results in success, but he who does not take time to plan his future will fail in the long run. If you fail to plan; you plan to fail!
Tip #2: Put first things first
This is hidden in Philippians 3:13–14: Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
To achieve your goal, you have to draw up a daily agenda in which prayer comes first
While praying, ask the Lord to give you wisdom in setting aside enough time for each task that you have planned to do during a day.
While planning your day, you have to arrange tasks, problems, considerations or courses of action in the order of their importance to be sure you have covered them all. Following such an agenda, you will be able to see what needs to be met first. I begin my workday by reading my notes. Sometimes I find entries that have nothing to do with my life and calling. Often we allow the devil and worldly problems to interfere with our plans. We certainly should not allow this to happen because we are God’s chosen people, and our lives are precious to Him. You need to get to work and take your destiny seriously.
Start by making a list of all you have to do in the course of the day, and then write them down according to their importance. This will help you do the most important things before the less important ones.
Apart from this, you need to make a list of your life’s priorities, arrange them in their order of importance, and keep in mind that your relationship with the Lord comes first. As for me, my most important priority is spending time with God. I spend a certain amount of time each morning talking with the Lord. I have never left home without praying for several hours. Meetings, sermons, the church’s daily chores and meeting with visitors come after my personal communication with God. The time of day and the amount of time you spend praying may differ from mine, but the point is, to do it.
My second priority is my family – my wife and children. No matter how urgent other things may be, I attend to them only after spending enough time with my family.
My purpose, ministry, and my calling are my third priority. Every month I dedicate one week entirely to the Lord. It is not a strictly fixed time, say, the first or the second week of each month. It may vary from month to month. I fill that week off with reading my Bible, praying, fasting, meditating over the Word of God. Naturally, during this time I cancel all the routine church matters and dedicate myself to being with the Lord.
I want to stress the importance of efficient time planning. You have to determine your priorities and arrange them in a proper order and then strictly follow it. As for me, my first priority is the Lord, and the second priority is my family and my third priority is my ministry. So I plan my time. And now I want to offer you a key to managing your life: draw up a list of your priorities, perhaps you have three or five of the most important things that you have to do in your life. When you have such a list, do them according to their order of importance, giving more time to the most important and the least time to the least important matters.
Through the careful planning of my workday, I have enough time to do other things and visit other places. When you have everything well planned by their order of priority, you usually have time for everything. My life is planned; this means I have enough time for the Lord, my family, and the ministry. Make it a rule to come home no later than seven o’clock in the evening. I have three days in a week that I have to be at home no later than seven o’clock in the evening so that I could play with my kids, and have time with my wife. Four days a week I come home close to ten in the evening, anyway, not later than eleven o’clock at night, because I have pressing evenings at the church or some appointments in the city. Such planning makes my kids and the family and everybody happy.
As far as my ministry is concerned, I have priorities for it too. Although I am often invited to preach outside Ukraine, I always give special importance to the church in Kyiv. The church matters also need careful planning. The work with the pastors comes first, and then I discuss the day’s agenda with my assistants.
After that, I receive the leaders of the church, run programs and receive parishioners.
Without arranging your priorities correctly, you will find it difficult to be a good servant of God or achieve success. You can make anything your first priority, but will it agree with God’s purpose for your life? A reasonable balance has to be kept in all you do.
Here’s a good example of being out of balance. Sometimes pastors of big churches have children who are drug addicts or unbelievers. Such things often happen because the priorities are wrong. These pastors probably regard their calling as their first priority, and may not even be aware that they have done so. They may be traveling around the world, preaching in other countries, enjoying respect and popularity, while their family, and possibly even their church, is on the verge of falling apart.
You need to make sure that God is always first in your heart. You have to give priority to four things that facilitate the development of good habits. Praying, reading the Word of God, reading Christian books, and listening to sermons on CD or cassette are indispensable conditions for becoming a good Christian. Attending church services on a regular basis has to be a habit, too.
If your second priority is your family, I suggest that you draft a set of rules and stick to them. For instance, I’ve made a rule to come home no later than seven o’clock in the evening. As a family, we do many things together, including playing and shopping, to name but a few.
Your work has to be carefully planned, too. You have to study constantly, enriching yourself with new knowledge. In return, you will be blessed abundantly. For instance, I have developed for myself a self education program. And according to this program, every week I read a book and listen to tapes with messages. You may follow my example or make your own program; maybe you want to read a book in a week or in a month or two books in a month, or maybe you want to listen to one message in a week or two messages in a month. By studying constantly, you will be able to keep abreast of the latest achievements, to receive new information to update your knowledge and skills in the area of your profession, to promote your self development.
By efficiently arranging your priorities, you prevent your life and work from turning into a mess. Your life will be filled with a special meaning and peace. Your ministry will flourish.
I know this is true; I have seen it happen. Once I paid a visit to a very rich man who was quite influential in political circles. He told me his story. His business earned him millions of dollars, but it took up all the free time he could share with his wife and children. As a result, his marriage was breaking up, and he was in despair. A man who was in control of thousands of employees was crying before me like a child. I explained to him the cause of his misfortunes. I told him that his inability to put first things first had reduced his business successes to nothing and turned his personal life into a failure. Thank God for this man! He gave his life to God and was saved! His family is doing well now, but this became possible only after he learned how to arrange his priorities efficiently.
To tell you the truth, I am amazed at how many people readily sacrifice their personal happiness for riches and popularity. Some people succeed in doing one thing, while neglecting another.
No one should allow himself to disregard the truths of the Scriptures. When you live a godless life, you deprive yourself of happiness, peace, and joy. In the long run, you may even lose your own life! Life without God is a sad and futile adventure. When you reject God’s principles, first you lose peace in your heart, then your righteousness; and eventually, you will discover you have lost everything. That is why God must be your first priority. You cannot live a successful life independent of Him.
Tip #3: Under no circumstances should you overburden yourself with too many obligations and promises
“TO EVERYTHING THERE IS A SEASON”
Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.
It is advisable to not have too many obligations because if you do, you won’t have enough time and strength to cope with them. In case you do have too many obligations, I advise you to begin with the goals, plans or problems that are most urgent.
You have to learn how to distinguish between urgent tasks and those that can wait. In other words, you have to learn to distribute your time in the most efficient way because “to every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven”
While drafting a daily agenda, concentrate on the tasks you have enough time and strength to attend to. Do not plan more than you can deal with. “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). You had better delegate to another person a task that you cannot do well. If you persist in doing it yourself, you will most likely mess up the whole thing and end up frustrated.
Once you have drawn up your agenda, you could share your plans with friends and acquaintances. Choose people who have something valuable to offer you and to whom you can be helpful to as well, because they are God’s tools for making you great. The Lord will provide you with people who have finances, connections, and other things you need to carry out His ideas and goals. In turn, you will find many people who need the spiritual gifts God has bestowed upon you.
We have to be on a constant search for people we can serve. As a matter of fact, people are looking for one another: politicians for electorates, actors for audiences, painters for art lovers, and so on. If you feel you are suitable for healing spiritual afflictions, find such people and help and comfort them. The place where you work may give you wonderful opportunities for showing love and concern for your neighbor.
Tip #4: Learn to arrange your objectives and work with time because there is time for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
This goes along with what we have just learned in the third tip. There are some things you ought to have done yesterday by your plan and if you will start tackling them today, then you probably will not be able to do what is planned for today. If the time to do certain things has passed, it is better to leave them and face today’s challenges, until you find some free time to do what was left over.