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If you put God last, you will go nowhere fast

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When there is a person with an amazing talent, extraordinary intelligence, or a developer of some great invention, the world often attributes these achievements to the individual. The world says, “He has done it,” and the individual says, “I have done it.” No honor or credit is given to God. The myth that success is a result of an individual’s energies, labor and mental capacity is a common one. The cartoon character, Bart Simpson, personifies this attitude with the mealtime grace consisting of the words, “Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.”

Let’s say a baseball player hits 74 home runs in a season and breaks the single season home run record. Does the bat receive the credit? Is the bat somehow better than the other bats and thus entitled to recognition? In the record book, is partial credit given to the bat? Of course not. The bat hits home runs because of the batter. In our relationship with God, we can be compared to a baseball bat. We can do nothing by ourselves. How many home runs would a bat hit if it were in the batter’s box alone? The bat is going to lie in the dirt and do nothing. The bat can do nothing by itself, just as we can do nothing without God.

If a home run is hit, does the crowd honor the bat because it actually made contact with the ball and hit it out of the park? Of course not; however, often in our lives we take credit for our accomplishments or honor others’ accomplishments with little or no credit given to God. When people take credit for their accomplishments, it is as foolish as giving praise to a baseball bat for hitting a home run. When we understand our true relationship with God, we realize He is the source of all our accomplishments.

In order for a home run to be hit, both a batter and a bat are required. How many home runs would a batter hit without a bat? This is where we come in. We must allow Christ to utilize us as instruments in His hands. Our role in bringing to pass righteousness and achieving greatness is submitting to His will. Our role is to become an instrument in the Master’s hands.

The Savior teaches this principle in John 15:4-5 “. . . As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”

St. Augustine wrote, “Christ does not say, without me ye can do but little, neither does He say, without me ye cannot do any [difficult] thing; nor without me ye can do it with difficulty: But He says, without me ye can do nothing!”


Following Columbus’ discover of the Americas, Columbus wrote a summary account of his voyage for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. It reads in part, “The great success of this enterprise is not to be ascribed to my own merits, but to . . . the Lord often granting to men what they never imagine themselves capable of effecting, as he is accustomed to hear the prayers of his servants and those who love his commandments, even in that which appears impossible; in this manner has it happened to me who have succeeded in an undertaking never before accomplished by man. . . And now ought the King, Queen, Princes, and all their dominions, as well as the whole of Christians, to give thanks to our Saviour Jesus Christ who has granted us such a victory and great success.”


The principle of indirection is when the focus and accomplishment of one thing results in the achievement of another. For example, if you want anyone to laugh you have to provide him with a reason, e.g., you have to tell him a joke. In no way is it possible to evoke real laughter by urging him, or having him urge himself, to laugh. True laughter is the indirect result of the direct action of telling a joke. There are certain things in life that cannot be obtained by direct pursuit. To obtain these things, we must focus on an indirect action, which will, in turn, cause the result we desire.


I will contrast two approaches people use to fulfill human needs. One is a direct approach illustrated by Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. The other is an indirect approach taught in the New Testament.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is represented as a pyramid, with the larger, lower levels representing the basic needs of food, air, water and shelter, and the upper point representing the need to seek a power greater than oneself and to serve others. One of the fundamental ideas is that there is a specific order in which we seek to fulfill our needs. We start at the bottom, with our basic survival needs, and work up the pyramid. For example, Maslow’s hierarchy teaches that we must fulfill our need for food before we seek to fulfill our need for security, and that we must fill our need for security before we can seek a power greater than ourselves.

While Maslow’s theory represents how people driven by fear and selfishness seek to fulfill needs, it does not represent how people of faith seek to fulfill their needs. Men of faith seek God before food, security or friends. Men of faith know that in seeking the will of God first, all their needs will be fulfilled. Matthew 6:33 reads, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”


Trying to satisfy our human needs without faith in God is like trying to win the Tour de France on a stationary exercise bike. You can peddle as long and as hard as those on a racing bike, but at the end of the race you will still be in the same place. Truly fulfilling human needs requires application of the principle of indirection. We can’t truly satisfy them by directly seeking them; we must first seek God and serve others. As taught the Savior in Matthew 10:39, “He that findeth his life shall lose it; and he that loseth his for my sake shall find it.” The indirect approach of seeking God is the first step to truly satisfying our needs. The person on the stationary bike can peddle, work and sweat, but will get nowhere. Those who are driven by fear and selfishness will attempt to satisfy their needs first, but will find it impossible to truly fulfill their needs. For if you put God last, you will go nowhere fast.

The more you make the fulfillment of your needs your target, the more you will miss it. True fulfillment of your needs cannot be obtained by direct pursuit. True fulfillment of your needs will come as a result of your personal dedication to God and the service of others.


A noble Chinese warrior died in battle and arrived at the heavenly portals. He requested that he be allowed to see what hell was like before entering heaven. His request was granted. Much to his surprise, he was taken to a magnificent chamber. In this chamber, there were tables heaped with an abundance of the most desirable foods one could imagine. However, the people in the room were cursing and screaming in anger. The warrior was initially puzzled at their behavior, but soon understood their plight. They were trying to eat with three-foot long chopsticks. They had learned to pick up their food, but because their chopsticks were so long, it was impossible to place the food in their mouths. When the warrior entered heaven, he saw a similar scene. He once again was brought to a magnificent chamber, filled with tables of delicious food. The guests at the table also had three-foot long chopsticks. This room was not filled with frustration, anger and cursing. It was instead filled with sounds of laughter and joy. What was the difference? These people had learned to feed one another. In giving, they received.


The belief that success is the sole result of a person’s energy, labor and mental capacity will create the vices of pride, selfishness, and ungratefulness. The virtues of humility, generosity, and gratitude will fill our hearts, minds, and souls once we realize our total dependence on God and believe that all we have and are is a gift from Him.

About the Author: Cameron C. Taylor is the author of the book "Does Your Bag Have Holes? 24 Truths That Lead to Financial and Spiritual Freedom." Content for this article was taken from chapter 2. The book’s table of contents and sample chapters are available online at http://www.DoesYourBagHaveHoles.org

Published in September 2008.

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