Thursday, August 7, 2014
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” ― Denis Waitley
It is easy to think that we have failed our scholarship students, but that is not the case. Already, we have had a message that someone is giving enough money for at least one new student. We must not be afraid of failure. Missionaries above all others should know that failure is just part of our operational plan. The psychologist, William Glasser, said that we needed to view failure as just not having success yet. Thomas Edison failed thousands of times before he found the filament that made light bulbs a reality—but he kept going. It is not about falling, it is about not getting up again. Society today is overly obsessed with success and sees failure as a horrible thing, but that is a very narrow minded view of things. We won’t know how many things the first one to make fire tried, but we can be very, very thankful that he or she didn’t quit. I’ve been fired more than once, sometimes quietly and sometimes that made the news, but every time has made me a better person and steered me to even greater successes. I was once partners with some men who had mob contacts and connections to a big Las Vegas casino. Our company was doing really well, and I was making more money than I ever had in my life (or ever since). One day, a week before Christmas, they fired me, kicked me off the board of directors and stole all the thousands of dollars that I had invested in the company. It felt horrible that day, and I thought my life was over. Just eight months later, all of my partners were convicted by the federal government of serious fraud and served twelve year terms in Leavenworth. Because they fired me and stole my money, the government attorneys knew that I wasn’t one of them and other than asking me some questions, let me go on to work on my PhD in Literature at the University of Arkansas where I had fled after leaving Los Angeles. It was losing a job as a pastor that led to me becoming an evangelist and then a missionary and I am so happy that I am who I am and where I am. I have had prisoners serving life sentences tell me that their incarceration was the best thing that could have ever happened to them because they met Jesus and are now living their lives for Him and ministering to the other inmates. A quadriplegic once told me that the accident that left her so helpless was a gift from God because she had rejected Him and now embraced Him and ministered through her pain and disability to others like her. When we do not give children the opportunity to fail, we take away one of God’s gifts—learning the euphoria of rising again, trying again, and making our ultimate success a meaningful one. It would not surprise me to learn that each of you reading this can remember a time when a failure led you to a new and brighter future. When Jesus called His disciples, He knew what lay ahead for them. After Pentecost, they knew as well, but worked as hard as they could for as long as they could knowing they would be killed for their efforts but understanding that it was worth it. If you are not willing to fail, you will never be able to grow, succeed, and become a better person than you ever could have been otherwise. To misquote Winston Churchill, “Never, never, never, never give up.” Christ calls you to availability and obedience, not to success. Give Him your best knowing that failure is just a part of the process of becoming a true disciple.