If you can do any one thing, what would it be?
“If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” – Todd Clark
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill
“There are no secrets to success It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford
Cultural standards: We are taught as young men, that the measure of life is success and that failure is unacceptable. Think about it: How many of you never measured up to your parent’s standards?
Our society will simply not accept failure. Because of this, we have embraced the idealism of perfection. I live in North County San Diego. It’s a prime example of keeping up with the Jones’, in money and status, in body image and things to do. Because of this, everyone drives harder than they should, always attempting to achieve the life they think everyone wants them to have, not the life they have been called to embrace.
It’s time for a new paradigm.
What would happen if we took a step back, evaluated our motivations, and began to think different? What if we had a singular goal that influenced every aspect of our life? I want to give you that single goal, and then three keys that will help you achieve it.
Your Single Goal: Faithfulness
Have you read my post about why our church needed to close?
Why we needed to close: Our city would not accept us, or the other 12 churches that have closed since we have moved here. We could have stayed: Our people were in it. We could have stayed: Other churches said they would financially support us. But is the easy path the right path? Check out Luke 10, where Jesus sends out the 72. He tells them that if people do not accept them, to shake the dust and move on.
Faithfulness is understanding the hard call and having the guts to make it.
You need to be willing to listen when God calls you forward. Be willing to listen when God calls you to quit. That’s why your singular goal in life is to remain faithful to Jesus: in your life, work, school, friendships; everything. If you can remain faithful, then you can fail forward.
Three keys to fail the right way:
- Fail – Get off the couch and try something.
- Forward – Allow the failure to teach you
- Fast – Keep trying until something works
Once this is done, repeat it over and over, and over again.
Peter was a failure, yet the chosen dude to lead the early church.
- Peter – “Chill.” Cuts off ear.
- Peter – “Follow me.” I don’t even know the man.
- Peter – “The risen Lord is at the door.” Nah.
- Peter – “Feed my sheep.” Well … ok.
The guy failed hard. If there was ever an award for failing hard, Peter would win it. But God used it. God uses failures as forerunners. And by all accounts, we’re all failures. But that’s a good thing. If you don’t fail, you aren’t trying. And if you don’t try, you don’t learn. And if you don’t learn, you won’t grow.
All of humanity was created to grow.
God’s prime instructive was to grow: Be fruitful and increase … (Genesis 1:8). But God’s directive was not descriptive, not prescriptive. Being fruitful is an ongoing and active verb. To be fruitful then means to be continuously bearing fruit.
Think of Romans 12:2
- Do not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
To be transformed according to Romans 12:2 means that you are constantly being transformed. You are NOT transformed then, but rather, you are being transformed. The pattern of this world is the antithesis of this then: to be gripped by inactivity – not allowing the transformation process to take root.
What does this mean?
It means that we need to allow failure to inspire us, instead of define us. Because you only fail when you do not learn from your mistakes.
Can we just be done with the way we allow guilt to ruin our lives? Too much time has been wasted in the dark, alone and afraid to confront our failures and sin. After working in the sex industry for 15 years, helping men get out of the business and over their addictions, I have come to the conclusion that the activity they were gripped by was much less harmful than the reasons why they sought it out: a coping mechanism to temporarily relieve the guilt and shame in their life.
As a pastor, you need to know and remember that there is a difference between guilt and conviction. Guilt is a proclamation upon an activity, not person. Remember what Jesus said: it is finished. He took your guilt. It’s finished. Done-Done.
Our God is a God of conviction, not guilt and shame. And we don’t get conviction the way God does. We read our Bibles and never look under the hood. Biblical conviction is to expose what is hidden or to bring to light, that which is in the dark.
Why does this sidebar matter? God does not see you as a failure, trapped by impossible worldly standards and overwhelming guilt. He came so you can live life to the fullest. Get over your guilt; you are free.
Lean into it, and remember that:
Your failure doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you human. Think back to when I told you to start thinking about doing that one thing for God. You thought about it, right? Now, what in the world is stopping you from doing that for God? If you don’t try it, how will you know if God’s hand is not all over it? That thought is something on is a passion that God placed within you.
Yep. You failed.
So what. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. Get out of the boat. Not losing faith, but having doubt in your calling. If Jesus calls, believe it. Get up. Try again. Be different. Try different. Keep doing it until it succeeds or until God calls you elsewhere.
If Jesus is calling, you better go.
Remember: God praises progress, not perfection.