If you are looking for some quick, pop a pill, stick it in the microwave, pay at the pump, drive through, instant messaging, Blackberry, magic ingredient for success, then let me save you some time. Hit the back button on your browser now. It doesn’t exist.

Even Jesus Christ himself, whose followers believe was the person of God come down to earth, took 30 years to prepare for his mission. And if God took 30 years getting ready is it reasonable for you to think you can somehow stand under someone’s magic wand and get success in an instant?

Of course not.

Shortcutting Success

There are millions of people out there trying to somehow shortcut the success process. And yes, it is a process. It takes time to learn the principles and habits that will lead to success. The process hasn’t changed since we were children and were learning all sorts of new things. But somehow when we get to be adults we forget the way things work and expect to be be exempt from the rules. We want to lose 40 pounds by next month, make our first million dollars by the end of this year, or master the art of influence so that we can set the sales record in our department this quarter.

And here’s the trap: Someone has done those things. Then they stand up and say how easy it is. Just buy my diet book, attend my sales seminar, or get my book of real estate secrets (It’s only $29.99! But wait, there’s more!)

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking diet books or even books on real estate secrets. I applaud folks who are kind enough to share how they achieved their success. They deserve to be rewarded.

What I am knocking is our expectations going into purchasing these self improvement aids. Books, seminars, exercise tapes by their nature have a tendency to leave out all the long periods of staying with the program in spite of the appearance of a lack of progress. That part is boring. It would lose the reader. The editors cut it out. And frankly we don’t want to hear about it anyway.

Ever watch a cooking show? The spend all that time chatting, mixing up the ingredients. It’s fun. Entertaining. Then they put their concoction in the oven and cut to a commercial. A minute or two later they are back pulling the finished creation out. It baked in no time at all.

Life isn’t like that. We all need time to bake if we are going to achieve success. That baking process can be hard and even painful. It is much easier to give up on our dreams of success.

And that is where most folks do cash it in. They go back into the masses of mediocrity and try to fool themselves that they are really OK with that choice. But deep down, in the place they don’t acknowledge except sometimes maybe late at night when they are having trouble falling asleep, they still have a longing which they try to ignore.

How do we endure?

The key to enduring through the growth period when we don’t seem to be making any progress is to keep our spirits fed.

We are all spiritual beings. We were designed that way. We can’t help it. We all have things that lift us up, make us want to shout for joy, cause a catch in our throat, or bring a tear to our eye. These reactions seem to come naturally to us from time to time. And they reveal our passions.

We can tap into those passions to keep ourselves on track during the dry desert times. They fill our spirit and keep us charged up to make it through.

But here’s the rub: So many of our passions get out of whack and then get us into trouble.

Did you ever wonder why so many times people who achieve great success in one area of their lives fail so miserably in other areas?

Think about the corporate executive who’s alienated from his kids because he works all the time, or the rock star who makes millions only to blow his brains out. And then there’s the pastor who leads a church through tremendous growth only to end up in divorce court.

What do all of these out of balance folks have in common?

Healthy Spiritual Food

The common denominator is that each of these folks were feeding their spirits food that wasn’t healthy for them.

Do you remember the movie Morgan Spurlock made a couple years back, Super Size Me? In it he ate nothing but McDonald’s food for 30 days. The results were not pretty. Why? Because the food he was eating was not healthy for his body.

He got himself on a fast track toward disaster. And the same thing happens when we feed our spirit the junk food of unhealthy passions.

Ultimately, if we are going have the endurance to achieve success without experiencing the negative side affects that lead to disaster in other areas of our lives we have to have a healthy spirit which can only result from healthy spiritual food. So, what can fuel our passions in a healthy way?

Here’s where it gets sticky.

In order to get into it we have to explore abstract ideas like faith and belief. The good news is we don’t have to check our brains at the door.

Ultimately we have to find some sort of connection with God or our spirits will not be equipped to support us either during the baking process or once we finally achieve the success we are working toward.

Now, as a follower of Jesus, I have my views on how to find that connection. You can take them or leave them. Jesus taught that he was the only way to really connect with God. He said that all other paths fall short in the end.

You can say what you want about that. You can say it is exclusive. And you have a point. He didn’t leave any other options to successfully connect with God. But at the same time he said that connection is available to everyone who would receive it. So from that perspective it is remarkably inclusive.

The bottom line is this: We can achieve success for the moment, or in one area of our lives at the expense of others. Or we can feed our spirit healthy food by connecting with God.

Me. I choose option number two.

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