Prosper By Degrees

Another Throwback to the Recession Days:

When my husband and I learned about the principles of prosperity and began to consciously live by them, we experienced dramatic results, tripling our income in just 3 months. But the ‘good fortune’ wasn’t going to last forever.

Trying to be super-smart with our new-found wealth, we anxiously invested it in a number of wrong places. A combination of inexperience and haste led us to invest poorly, and get in over our heads to a dangerous level.

Add to that the fact that we had unknowingly involved ourselves with business people who eventually slipped into hiding or went to jail, and perhaps you can get a glimpse of how quickly a fortune can be lost, even with the best of intentions.

In the wake of our poor decisions, needless to say, we were left with a big mess to clean up. But no worries – we understood the principles that had brought us the wealth to begin with, so we would just practice them again, and turn things around in short order.

Or so we hoped.

But we discovered that sometimes the consequences of our decisions have a more far reaching effect that can’t be turned around with just a snap of the fingers, so to speak. Turning a corner like that is something like turning a massive cruise ship around. You might get the rudder turned in the right direction, but it can take some time before the effects are noticed.

We had erroneously believed that we could “make” those bad decisions into good ones somehow just by “thinking right.” While it may be true that in every adversity there is a seed of equal or greater benefit, that doesn’t mean the adversity will go away with right thinking. It only promises that something good can be born from it.

In a determined push to create another massive financial breakthrough like the first, I locked on to the vision of a quick rescue, another big windfall. I’d seen them before, experienced them more than once. Many times we had used the principles to produce tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in a short period of time, so that’s what we were running for.

But something was different this time. For some reason, the mental discipline and goal setting strategies weren’t paying off like they had in the past. It seemed that something was preventing the blessing. The formula wasn’t panning out.

In time, I stopped trying so hard, out of sheer exhaustion. I started to accept whatever was, just as it was. I decided to find peace and happiness even in our mess, and begin focusing again more completely on my family relationships.  It seemed I no longer had real influence or control over our finances (since I kept failing to meet my goals), so I directed my attention to the little things in my world over which I could make a difference.

It was during a Sunday School lesson at church that I had my next great epiphany. The class discussed a story about two groups of people who lived more than 2000 years ago, comparing and contrasting their experiences:

The first group was led by a man named Alma. Alma and his people were devout believers who worshiped God and were diligent in keeping the commandments.

The second group was led by a man named Limhi. Limhi and his people relied just a little too much on their own strength and wisdom. Both groups were in subjection to the same oppressive government.

When the government sent an army to destroy Alma and his people, they were warned by God ahead of time and were able to escape.

When the army came to attack Limhi’s people, they were given no warning.

Limhi’s people tried three times to deliver themselves from the oppression, and each time, they failed. Eventually, they began to reevaluate their approach, and decided that they needed to pay more attention to the commandments, and rely on God for their success with patience.

The record then states:

“…the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of [their oppressors] that they began to ease their burdens; …The Lord did not see fit to deliver them out of bondage [yet]… they began to prosper by degrees in the land, and began to raise grain more abundantly, and flocks, and herds, that they did not suffer with hunger.”

That description – that the Lord did not see fit to deliver them, but allowed them to begin prospering by degrees – was my answer.

I had been expecting a big miraculous rescue, and was dissatisfied with anything less. I had thought I was being obedient to the commandments of God all along, but recognized I could do better.

What I feel that God wanted me to learn was simple: to not run faster than I had strength as I had been, but to take it at a pace that I could maintain throughout my life, so that I don’t burn myself out and become completely useless to Him.

So I slowed down and began to envision Him opening doors and preparing the way for long-term success. I lost interest in anything that promised big, quick bucks, because we had already experienced that kind of success. Instead, I became increasingly interested in principles that would allow us to rebuild on a more solid, long-lasting foundation.

It’s just a matter of getting back to the basics. It’s making smart choices, and sacrifices. It’s being smart with what we have, and anticipating gradual improvement. It’s watching more closely how we spend our money, and watching for evidence that we are being prospered by degrees.

We started noticing and celebrating each little bit of evidence, and realized that were were being prospered by degrees. I stopped lamenting the lack of a massive windfall, and started being grateful again for every simple blessing. The growth has been gradual but consistent. Our good fortune has been added upon every day.

When the needed rescue doesn’t come by one miraculous windfall, look for evidence that you’re prospering by degrees.

It’s been a humbling process, but one that I am grateful for. I know we’re wiser for the experience, and that it will make a big difference for our future. Our family is already much happier, too, because I’m finally living at a pace that I can maintain.

Read The Unexpected Cure for Doubt

There’s time to build your life right. There’s time to build your business right. There’s time to build relationships right. Looking for shortcuts can become an addiction. As you slow down and prayerfully live receptive to God’s guidance, you’ll find that there is no greater shortcut than that.

And when that guidance says, RUN!” then by golly, you’d better run!

But sometimes we run when we’re really supposed to stop and take the time to sharpen the saw, and reconnect with God.

Read more details about our experience here. And as always, I appreciate your comments!

Leslie Householder
Latest posts by Leslie Householder (see all)

10 Responses

  1. Thank you as always. This article goes along with some podcasts where you have talked about making progress more slowly, making a plan that you can stick with. These get rich quick programs are so inticing. Some have gotten us financially into a lot of trouble. Still, they are tempting. We are following your ideas though, making a plan, going slow, looking for the long term success. It feels right. This article was a great reminder and also added more insight. Thank you so much!

  2. Recently after not reaching our desired financial goals, AGAIN, I was sitting in church. I decided to take out my scriptures and copy every verse I could find on “prosperity”. It seemed like a uninspired thing to do at the time but I did it anyway. When I came to the story of Limhi I too noticed the words “prospered by degrees” and felt sure that was what the Lord was doing for us. My husband was getting more work for more money, the gas in the car seemed to last longer, money going farther somehow. I felt I needed to be grateful first for the blessings that were coming our way. This has been a great lesson for me and like you Leslie, I want to set us up for full-time, long-term success, not flash in the pan stuff. It is always great to read your thoughts, and this one especially touched me and provided a “second witness”. Thanks as always.

  3. The get rich quick mentality is a very addictive one for me. I am glad to see prosperity in another light. I think your idea of prosper by degrees is one which will also allow me to be more aware of what’s happening in my life. Thank you for explaining your ideas so clearly.

  4. Wow. What a great article.

    It really makes you stop and think. Here you think you are doing everything right and why isn’t God cooperating? But from God’s perspective, are you really doing everything right? Are you giving your best to him?

    Slowing down and reflecting on God’s blessings each day is sometimes the last thing we want to do. Noticing God’s gifts and love are all around you, even if it’s not what you’ve been begging him for, is a blessing all by itself.

    Thanks for sharing this beautiful story.

  5. Thanks Leslie – It’s nice to know that we’re not the only ones experiencing the same flavor trial and a-ha moments. 🙂 It’s funny. We often don’t see the small profound blessings and the incremental, but highly significant, progress we are making in the middle of stressful times…especially if, like you said, we’re giving more than we feel we have to give and don’t seem to be getting where we want to. Your blog post reminds me of a story about a man who God tells to move a huge rock blocking a path…he tries over and over again, for days/ weeks/months, without success and then complains that it’s impossible and asks what the point is to trying…and God tells him that although he has not been able to move the rock that the purpose of the exercise has been accomplished. God tells him to look at how capable and strong he has become. Through his effort he has developed muscle and determination he can now transfer to other purposes. God tells him he was less concerned about the rock being moved than the man becoming greater than he was. I love that story because it helps me to remember what my life is really about. Thank you for sharing – you helped me to feel like someone else can relate and helped me to remember this encouraging story too. 🙂

  6. Thank you very much Leslie. This is a breather for me. Very timely of what’s happening with me right now.

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