Two weeks ago, I was sitting on the edge of my seat listening to a lesson Dr. Don Sisk gave at our annual staff training. It was titled “Principles for Life” and was full of biblical, practical advice.
Dr. Don Sisk is eighty years old and has served the Lord for sixty years in ministry—and he is still full of the joy of the Lord as he serves.
Each of the ten principles Dr. Sisk gave spoke to my heart, and the entire evening had God’s anointing touch on it. These principles were so meaningful to me that I added them to my daily planner for frequent review, and I wanted to share them with you.
As you read these, picture yourself sitting in a room with a man who has served the Lord faithfully, fruitfully, and joyfully for over six decades giving you his ten secrets to life:
1. Relationships are more important than fame or things.
Fame and things are fleeting, but relationships are what life is made of. Develop and maintain your relationships—with the Lord, your spouse, your family, your co-workers, those you serve in ministry, and—especially—those who don’t know the Lord.
Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.—Matthew 6:19–21
2. Nothing anyone can do to me can harm me; only my reaction will harm me.
People can hurt us—and they often do. But there is a difference between hurt and harm. When we react to the hurt others bring into our lives, we allow them to control our future. When we respond with grace and forgiveness and trust in God, we place our future in the hands of God. The life of Joseph stands as a reminder that God overrules the hurt brought by wicked men. Ultimately, only our reactions can harm us.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.—Romans 8:28
3. It is more blessed to give than to receive.
We spend our lives living to get or learning to give. Giving brings more joy.
I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.—Acts 20:35
4. Each person is a creation of God and is unique.
There are no insignificant people. Treat everybody you meet as more important than you—as the most important person in the world. And remember, God has a unique purpose for your life as well!
Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.—Jeremiah 1:5
5. Happiness is a by-product of faithfulness to God and not a goal.
When we chase happiness, we find disappointment. When we serve faithfully, we find happiness.
But godliness with contentment is great gain.—1 Timothy 6:6
6. If I am careful to do the little things well, the big things will take care of themselves.
Diligence is a lifestyle, not an event. If you are always waiting for the “really big opportunity,” you’ll miss a thousand opportunities to glorify God with diligence along the way. And you never know when the “little” thing will become a “big” thing. Ask the boy who gave his little lunch to Jesus or the widow who gave her two mites.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.—Ecclesiastes 9:10
7. Change is always possible. Neither success nor failure is final.
In Esther 5, Haman was the prime minister and Mordecai was sentenced to death. In Esther 6 and 7, Mordecai was wearing royal apparel and Haman was hanged. Don’t get too high when things are going well, and don’t get too low when things are not going well. Neither success nor failure are final, but God is sovereign.
Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.—1 Corinthians 10:12
8. I must not take myself too seriously.
Take the work of God seriously, but don’t develop a Messiah complex. No one can do everything, and God will move His work forward. Relax and enjoy serving the Lord.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.—Romans 12:3
9. Everyone and everything are my teachers. We are interdependent.
We are independent Baptists in the sense that we have no denominational hierarchy. But as individuals, God has designed us to be, not independent, but interdependent. We need each other and must learn from one another.
For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.—1 Corinthians 12:12
10. Be all that you are wherever you are.
Everything I do or say impacts the Kingdom of God—positively or negatively. Thus, I must be faithful and fully engaged in every moment and in every situation. We never know the ripple effects of faithfulness in a given moment.
Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?—Esther 4:13–14
Each of these ten lessons are developed more thoroughly in Dr. Sisk’s book Ten Principles for Biblical Living available through Striving Together Publications.