Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881), Earl of Beaconsfield, Viscount Hughenden, British statesman and novelist who was twice prime minister of England (1868, 1874–80) once stated: “The secret of success in life is for a person to be ready for their opportunity when it comes.” There’s an old saying that opportunity only knocks once. But we all know that’s not true. What is true is this: Once opportunity knocks, grab it before it leaves because it may not come back.
There are several important things to remember when you are waiting for opportunity to knock. One of those is, to be ready. By that I mean, opportunity is like rain. You can expect it when you see clouds in the sky. So in life. If you are looking for rain – such as a new job, when you see jobs becoming available in the area you have to apply, start expecting results, and be ready to respond.
The next question then: are you prepared for your opportunity? This involves doing your homework on what qualifications this opportunity may require. If it involves making adjustments in your normal schedule, have you considered that and feel comfortable with any changes? For instance, if the job you’re looking for is in another city or state, have you made preparations to move in case you are accepted. Believe me, if you’re not ready, chances are they’ll give the job to someone who is.
So what can you do while waiting for opportunity to knock? One of them is to get involved, even by volunteering in the area of work you may end up doing. If you know someone who is trained in this field, ask them if you can watch them and pick up some pointers on how the job is done. Often you will find that there are times when the work you demonstrate as a volunteer gives you the exposure that creates opportunities for you.
Every specific job exists in a larger general area of endeavor. That should give you a clue as to what you may read and study, whether it be sales, clerical work, healthcare, accounting, counseling, etc. With the internet available to almost everyone everywhere, there are extension studies that can be used for this purpose. One such subject that might fit into almost any job area is this: “How to get along with other people.”
Once you’ve gained some knowledge in a specialized area or developed some skills by practicing the art of the particular endeavor you’re involved in, put it into practice by volunteering, interacting with others who do this same kind of work. Don’t wait to be asked, be proactive in seeking out opportunities to put into practice what you’ve learned.
As one successful entrepreneur said, “For many years I waited for my turn, my chance, my opportunity without getting my turn, chance, or opportunity. I learned, albeit the hard way, that opportunity waits for no one. We have to value ourselves enough to create opportunities. The best way to do that is for us to prepare for opportunities. So do not wait for opportunities to come to you, go after them.”
The Bible is also full of information and instruction on seizing opportunities as well as missed possibilities. Solomon made it clear to his subjects that a person who goes out when the harvest is ripe is wise, but the person who sleeps during harvest time ends up embarrassed.1 And in another place, he shares the words that Wisdom might say to those who would not listen or respond. We can easily substitute “opportunity” and the message is equally clear.
So what Opportunity might say would be something like this: I came knocking but you would not open the door. I put out my hand to help but you ignored my offer. You did not listen when I told you what you should do because you hate taking instructions. So I’m afraid I’ll have to sigh when you don’t get any work. I’ll shake my head when you can’t make ends meet. Anxiety will come to you like a storm. Hard times will come like a strong wind. This will only make things worse. Then you will call for me to come back but I will be long gone. You will start looking for me, but you won’t find me anymore.2
Jesus told three powerful stories about missed opportunities and the consequences.3 In all three cases, the individuals involved knew what was coming and were told how to prepare for it. In the first parable, half the bridesmaids invited to a wedding forgot to bring along what they needed to finish the trip. In the second incident, a long-awaited opportunity became available for a number of people but they had gotten too involved in less important things and couldn’t respond. And in the third case, the individuals involved were given the opportunity and told what was expected of them. All but one met their goals, the other one didn’t even try.
The Apostle Paul was very astute in what he had to say about opportunity. On one occasion he wrote that we only have so much time in life. There will be opportunities to use wisely or waste foolishly.4 And the Apostle Peter said that God is not slow in giving us opportunities, as some people define as being noncommittal. What He’s really doing is waiting for us to catch up to where we need to be so that we don’t miss the opportunity when it comes. It’s His way of getting us to turn our lives around and go in the right direction.5
Also, the Apostle John said that we should not jump at the first opportunity unless we know it’s the right opportunity for us. There are a lot of offers made but many of them are false advertising.6 Then the Apostle James cautioned that we should not go around bragging about what we want to do when in fact we have no intention of doing it. It would be like looking into a mirror and seeing lots of acne on our face, then responding to a want-ad looking for people to do commercials where unblemished faces are needed. It’s one thing to know what’s expected of us and the qualifications needed and doing all we can to be prepared. But trying to get by with the least amount of effort will not get us past those who are prepared and ready to go. They’re the ones who will get the job.7
So as Prime Minister Disraeli said, the secret of success in life is to be ready when opportunity comes. If the plane is ready to leave at 3:45 pm and you’re not there on time, don’t complain because you missed your flight. When an interview for a job is scheduled at 10 am and you’re still at home still getting dressed because you were watching a rerun on TV, don’t bother to go because you’ve already told them you’re not interested. The same is true in our spiritual lives. We know from God’s Word what opportunities there are to live for Him and serve Him. But if we don’t take the time to get prepared, don’t be surprised if He never calls your name. – Dr. Robert R Seyda
1 Proverbs 10:5
2 Proverbs 1:24-28
3 See Matthew 25:1-16; Luke 14:16-24; 19:12-27
4 Ephesians 5:16
5 2 Peter 3:9
6 1 John 4:1
7 James 1:22-25