A good friend of mine recently reposted this on his Facebook wall a few days ago. This is an old Facebook post that I originally wrote on November 30, 2014, and I thought it might be worth sharing again here...
We concentrate too much on failure. No one likes to fail. With every failure in our life, it seems that our self esteem falls just a little lower. Those around us don't seem to help the problem. The world will remind you of your most current failures, and they will judge you right into the ground. Satan, on the other hand, will remind you of every failure that you have ever experienced in your life. Satan will convince you that you're absolutely worthless to any process, and he'll embed a load of doubt into your mind that will ultimately weigh down the success of any future endeavor that you might undertake.
The facts are simple...we all fail. If you don't think you fail, then you're failing at soaking up the reality of what it is to be human. Failure is a lifetime problem that we all must deal with; however, it is not a reason to bury ourselves in doubt. Failure is not where our identity should ground itself. Failure is not foundational, although we often make it foundational. We are not born to fail. Looking at it from another perspective, failure is an indictor of effort. To fail at something means that we tried something. We won't always succeed, but we also will not always fail.
God doesn't track His love for us by our long list of failures. God is a better judge than the other human beings that surround us, and He is a better judge than we are...as we pass our judgement onto the failures in the lives of others. With other people, we're normally only as good as our last failure. In the eyes of others, our successes are quickly forgotten when failure occurs...and there, the judgement begins. God looks to our heart, He sees our needs and our weaknesses, and He loves us in spite of the failure and through the failure. His love for us is unshakeable, infallible, and filled with much more grace than we afford to others in our life. In that fact, we are failures at dealing with each other.
My greatest fear in life is not the fear of failure. I'm not really sure what my greatest fear would be, but I know for a fact that it is not failure in the general sense of the word. But, have you ever thought about fearing success?
Churches are considered a success based off of many things that aren't relevant to the Kingdom of God. They are often judged on size, facilities, and the name recognition of the pastor. If they have a big budget and full pews, then we think they are successful. We judge others by their net worth, their car, how they dress, or the title on their business card. Huge successes can often hide the largest failures. Are we spending our time and efforts being successful in the things that matter, or are we simply fooling ourselves?
In Philippians 1:21, Paul makes a huge statement that might sound crazy to someone of great worldly success. He says: "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." We're all desperately trying to make a great life by acquiring wealth, building bigger houses, buying nicer cars, etc...none of which we want to leave. For so many, these things represent the culmination of their entire life's effort. How unfortunate that these things are temporal. They will age, they will decay, and they will ultimately fade away into obscurity. As we build magnificent palaces on earth, let us keep in mind that earth as well...will fade. Our time would be better spent building success in things that are eternal in nature...things that make our departure from this earth something to celebrate.
Success in our walk with God, for lack of a better term, is important. It's very important. If I fear failure in my life, it is that I fear missing God and His will because I'm distracted...distracted trying to make a success out of something that is not relevant. I've wasted way too much time in my life already chasing success. I want to succeed on a level that honors God with my thoughts, my words and my actions. I want to succeed in ways that disciple other's in the love of Jesus. I want to succeed in things that are important to God and God alone.
In light of God's sacrifice, in light of His love, and in light of His call in your life...how successful are you?
Keith Beatty is a Worship, Missions and Media Pastor living in North Alabama. He's excited and very humbled to be a follower of Jesus Christ!