Motivational writer Napoleon Hill did a study of the richest men in early 20th-century America to see what caused them to succeed. He found that the only thing they had in common was overcoming a crushing adversity. James says we should "consider it pure joy" when we encounter trials, because adversity develops perseverance and maturity (see James 1:2-3).
Modern writers are also discovering the value of adversity, and it is important not to lose sight of its value when suffering through financial problems.
- Thomas Edison has over 1,000 failures before inventing the light bulb. The road to success is often paved with failures.
- Col. Sanders started Kentucky Fried Chicken when he was 70. You're never too old to succeed.
- Abraham Lincoln went broke as a young man. He built his life by getting better educated, marrying and owning a home, and only after that did he pay off his debt. Build your life first.
- Abraham Lincoln lost the nomination in 1856 and lost his Senate race in 1858 before his election as president in 1860. Sometimes success is just a matter of timing.
- Winston Churchill was thought to be politically dead until his warnings about Adolph Hitler proved true, and he was made prime minister to save England. Stay true to yourself and never quit.
- George Washington suffered constant defeat in battle until the French helped him win at Yorktown. Stay in the game and outlast your adversaries.
- Martin Luther King and the apostle Paul wrote their most influential letters while in jail. Adversity focuses the mind.
- The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, sinking our battleships, forced the Navy to embrace the new concept of aircraft carrier war. Sometimes adversity clears out the old to force us to do something better.
- General Douglas Mac Arthur was ordered to leave the Philippines in 1942 but returned back to victory in 1944. Sometimes it's best to live to fight another day.
- The Arab oil embargo of 1973 ultimately led to more alternative energy and the discovery of much more oil. Adversity can make you innovative and more successful.
- We've all heard the story of the miners who missed the mother lode by a few feet because they quit digging. You're never a failure until you quit digging.
- The best time to make a favorable settlement with your lenders is when you are in bad shape. In weakness there is strength.
- A few years before he became the largest owner of oil reserves in America, Sid Richardson was hiding from his creditors and used a drugstore clerk as his answering service. Don't let your creditors keep you from achieving your destiny.
- Some of our greatest family fortunes began in the Great Depression. The way to spell "opportunity" is P-R-O-B-L-E-M.
- Accept the blame for your problems, and then accept forgiveness. Leave the past behind and move forward with your life. Then you can say as Job did: "When He has tested me, I will come forth as gold" (Job 23:10b).
Ron Allen is a Christian businessman, CPA and author who serves in local, national and international ministries, spreading a message of reconciliation to God, to men and between believers. He is founder of the International Star Bible Society, telling how the heavens declare the glory of God; the Emancipation Network, which helps people escape from financial bondage; and co-founder with his wife, Pat, of Corporate Prayer Resources, dedicated to helping intercessors.
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