By Dr. John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
Often in life we falsely ascribe the term luck to situations and circumstances that really are the result of preparedness, hard work, and God’s intervention.
Some people collect lucky charms. Neither life nor luck is enhanced by rabbits’ feet, horseshoes, or four-leaf clovers. The real truth is that luck is what happens when hard work and opportunity cross paths. As Louis Pasteur put it, “Luck favors a prepared mind.”
A few years ago 155 people on US Airways Flight 1549 had a rare experience when the plane made an emergency landing on the Hudson River after striking a flock of geese upon takeoff. The plane didn’t break apart and there were no fatalities. Many people referred to it as “luck.”
It wasn’t luck! That plane’s pilot, Captain Chesley Sullenberger, had worked hard and was prepared for such a moment. He had a record as an excellent pilot instructor in how to react in the situation in which he found himself. He had written manuals and had given lectures and offered training for other pilots. On the Hudson River on that particular day, “Sully” had an opportunity to put all of that into practice.
When I am on an airplane, I don’t want a “lucky” pilot, but one who is ready for all situations. I don’t want the plane built by “lucky” people, but experts who build with excellence. I remember reading how the passengers on Flight 1549 said most of them were praying. God answered their prayers. That wasn’t luck – it was the result of the intervention of God coupled with the exceptional expertise and composure of a prepared pilot.
One of the greatest tragedies of American history occurred on April 14, 1912. The “unsinkable” Titanic was on its maiden voyage with 2,224 people on board. The Titanic hit a huge ice berg and began to sink. Due to insufficient crew training, it took over an hour to deploy the 18 lifeboats. Many of the lifeboats carried about half of their maximum capacity. 1512 people did not make it to a lifeboat and died.
Many have designated the sinking of the Titanic as “bad luck.” It was an extremely unfortunate tragedy, but bad luck did not play a part – poor preparation did. There were only enough lifeboats to accommodate about one-third of the ship’s capacity. It seems plausible that the ship ought to have had enough lifeboats to accommodate everyone, but somebody didn’t prepare.
There were other things that indicated a lack of preparation for such an emergency. A telegraph message was sent concerning the sighting of an iceberg in the ship’s path, but somehow it did not make it to the captain of the Titanic. Also, there was poor communication with the nearest ship, the S.S. California. “Bad luck” is more the case of poor planning, poor preparation, and poor execution.
If I want to improve my luck, I need to improve my preparation for life’s experiences and rely more on the sovereignty of God. As one successful lawyer classified as being “lucky” wrote, “I am inclined to recall that luck usually visits me at 2:00 am on a cold morning when red-eyed and bone-weary I am pouring over law books preparing a case. It never visits me when I am at the movies, when I am on the golf course, or when I am reclining in an easy chair.”
The antithesis of luck is faith – knowing that we have a responsibility, but God has the final say. Proverbs 16:33 says, “We toss the coin, but it’s the Lord who controls its decisions.”
Every day, pray this prayer – “God, help me make this a victorious day based on my preparation, hard work, and complete trust in You!”
What’s your LQ – Luck Quotient?
John Ed’s blog posts appear in For His Glory each week.1
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