Pastor Rick Warren said that his nearly 40 years in ministry have helped him learn how to benefit from opportunities by first asking a few questions to determine whether to take advantage of them or not.
Warren notes that successful individuals see opportunities when others do not, a skill people can learn. He admits that he was poor at seizing opportunities and missed out on many early on in his life. But now he has learned to say "no" to good opportunities so that he can say "yes" to great ones.
"Opportunities are all around you but if you don't know how to see, sift, sense or seize them, then you're not going to know what to do with your life. You're going to miss on God's plan for you," Warren said during a sermon on Sunday.
The first step in overcoming and managing opportunities is getting rid of things that may seem important but are not, Warren explains.
"The starting point of being successful is the elimination of nonessentials in your life so you can start to clear out the clutter," said Warren. "I've had nine mentors throughout my life, some have been famous and others haven't. Peter Drucker, founder of modern American management was one of them and he would tell me that I couldn't keep adding things to my schedule without taking things off."
He also emphasized that not all opportunities should be seized upon, as some can be temptations, detours or distractions. Every opportunity must be evaluated, even the ones that "God places on your lap," he explains.
"Just because you can do it, doesn't mean you should, just because you can afford it, doesn't mean you should buy it. Test everything and keep only what is good," said Warren.
An important question to ask is "what do I need to know and who knows it?" says Warren. Because in the case where an individual wants to open a business, Warren notes that a dream or desire just are not enough. He also adds that the Bible views that as foolish.
In order to take up an opportunity, he advises individuals to seek the counsel and help from others who can relate.
"Go talk to that person who is where you want to be. Talk to that business owner, that person who has made a career out of that hobby," said Warren.
In addition, Warren says taking on opportunities also comes with unintended consequences, which individuals should prepare for. "There's a downside to every upside, doesn't mean you say 'yes' or 'no' but you need to go into something with full knowledge," he explained.
While he says people should have faith and hope for the best, they also need to be prudent and plan for the worst because "we're in a broken planet and not everything goes right."
He also says that people, at times, can have a deep desire for an opportunity that they assume must be from God but that is not always the case.
More importantly, he notes that the right opportunities have to fit an individual's purpose and calling.
"You want to have peace and less stress in your life? You need to be purpose driven not prophet, pressure, priority or public-opinion driven," said Warren.
Also, opportunities comes when a person least expects them but he notes that individuals need to be ready at all times.
"You could have the opportunity of your life waiting for you next week," said Warren. "You may be 20, 40, or 60 and God may have been holding it until now, but if you're not ready, you may miss it."
He added, "God can do more in 24 hours of your life than you can do in 30 years of manipulating your career. He can put you overnight in a position that you never expected but you've just got to be ready."