Thank you for your help over the phone the other day. I sent along the information you gave me, and we will see where that goes. Regarding our brief discussion about our ability or inability to achieve anything we set our hearts on, I am including a letter from Victor responding to one of your latest newsletters, and will add a couple thoughts after his letter.
Hi, Nathan, Victor here,
I repeat your quote from Murray:
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative(and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep for one of Goethe’s couplet’:
“Whatever you can do,
or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius,
power and magic in it.”
— W.H. Murray
The Scottish Himalayan Expedition
Those words are very true. Very true. However, the application is what is questionable. Is this a case of the horse behind the cart? Fellows like Harv Eker and other motivators (perhaps Zig … not sure) come along and say, “You can do anything you put your mind to doing. Look at ‘So-and-So,’ who did this or that. He had commitment and concentration; he had enthusiasm; He did it! With those things, so can you!”
Nate, I want to ask you: Did a successful person have a calling on his life from above, and therefore the enthusiasm, drive, and conviction were naturally present, provided in sufficient supply to accomplish the calling, or, did the person make a decision to accomplish something, decide to be enthusiastic, apply his will and concentration to it, and thus succeed?
A bystander will see the enthusiasm and drive in Bill Clinton, or George Bush, or Thomas Edison, or Bill Gates, and think it was those things that made them what they are or were. The observers conclude that if they then nurture those qualities or attributes, that they can therefore accomplish the same. Isn’t that what you are saying in telling all these people that if they just set their minds to it, they can become HTE presidents, or anything they want? Who is getting the credit here? The cart or the horse? Man or God?
We can take many lessons from God’s works all around us. Is it not true that a chicken lays eggs because it is in her nature to do so? She does not lay eggs because she conceived the desire and goal in herself of her own volition, committed herself, and after undaunted persistence, laid an egg. Let’s face it: a terrier can never become a setter, no matter how much it aspires to be one. A Clydesdale will never be a racehorse.
You may argue that while a chicken does not have free will, man does. One cannot grow an inch taller, no matter how much enthusiasm or willpower. Some are scientists and some are musicians. I could never have been another Vladimir Horowitz, or Itzhak Perlman. The passion and drive are there in the beginning because the calling is there.
In essence, I see the difference here as giving man the glory or giving God the glory. Man desires to be the “master of his own destiny.” It doesn’t work. Nebuchadnezzar one day said, “Look at my great empire! Look at what I have accomplished!” We then read the words:
"While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from Heaven, saying, O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken. The kingdom has departed from you. And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen, and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He will" (Daniel 4:31-32).
All was taken from him, even his sanity. By the time the Lord was done with him, Nebuchadnezzar, in humility, declared:
“Now I Nebuchadnezzar praise and exalt and honor the King of heaven, all whose works are truth and His ways judgment. And those who walk in pride He is able to humble” (Daniel 4:37).
What is the problem with motivation or encouragement? That depends. How are we doing it? What are we promising or suggesting to people? Nate, we can be very presumptuous without realizing it. Nevertheless, the consequences still come. I have seen many people motivated to try many things, told they could do it. I have been one of those people motivated by others. It didn’t work, and not because I didn’t try. Read, if you will (I know you don’t care to hear these things), Amway – Whence Cometh It? on our site.
I discovered that it is all in God’s hands, and there is no denying or escaping it. Fatalism? No. A knowledge of God and His ways.
Here is what Solomon, given wisdom above all others of his day, and many other’s day, had to say:
“I returned and saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favor to men of skill; but time and chance happens to them all. For man also does not know his time; as the fishes that are taken in an evil net, and as the birds that are caught in the snare; so are the sons of men snared in an evil time, when it falls suddenly on them” (Ecclesiastes 9:11-12).
Unless we repent, we are all snared in an evil time. If this seems negative, it is only because there is the positive, which is God’s grace and power in Jesus Christ, Messiah and Savior of all men. He is the One of Whom all Scripture speaks, and what life is all about. It is not about how many machines we sell, or even how many people we help. It is not about how great a business we build, or how many friends we make. Solomon summed it up like this:
“Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter. Fear God, and keep His commandments. For this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good, or whether evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Jesus said: “What shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and lose his own soul” (Mark 8:36). We owe Him our lives, Nate. There we will find unfettered success, as God defines it for us.
“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us; by me and Silas and Timothy; was not yes and no, but in Him was, yes! For all the promises of God in Him are yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God by us” (2 Corinthians 1:19-20).
Sent to Nate on January 31, 2005