Success and failure

 

As I read Bill Perkin’s book, Six Battles Men Must Win, I wasn’t sure whether I should embrace such a perspective or reject it outright. My challenge came in an illustration of a particular golf game he described in the book.  While he and his friend were playing golf one day, Perkins noticed that his friend would put great power behind each drive, but each of these drives was also accompanied by a persistent slice. Each time the golf ball was sent careening into the rough, Perkin’s friend would, with a growl, take the driver and slam it against the ground.

Perkin’s writes, “After one especially bothersome slice, I offered him a golfing tip: ‘Rod, I think you’d enjoy the game more if you embrace the fact that bad drives are as much a part of your game as good ones. The way I see it, you believe that those loooong straight drives are the norm…it just seems to me the bad shots are as much a part of your game as the good ones. I know I’m a hacker. I accept that. So when I occasionally happen to hit the ball in the fairway, it’s both a surprise and a celebration.’” (p. 44)

Again, in my mind I wasn’t sure whether I should embrace such a perspective or reject it outright – it seemed to go against the grain of lessons I had been taught: lessons about striving to always win and always pushing myself toward personal excellence. But inside, I knew that the message of this illustration actually gave me a feeling of relief and hope!

There is nothing wrong with being competitive and trying to win. There is nothing wrong with trying to be the best you can possibly be in any area of life. Our attitude toward excellence is not the problem. The problem is our attitude toward failure.

Failure is a part of life. Failures are milestones pointing us toward the goals we seek. Failures are reminders that we are not yet perfect and that we will never, in our own strength, be perfect. But failures should never lead us to think that failure is the final judgment of who you are or who God has called you to be. Life is not over until it is over. God is there and He loves you – even with your imperfections. God is there and He is actively moving in your life – seeking to transform you into the person He desires you to be. God is there and He wants to be your Lord, your Redeemer and your ever-present Friend.

You are not a failure! I say this especially to the men. You have made mistakes. You have fallen short of expectations, we all have. You have not been the father, the husband, the son, the spiritual leader you know you should have been. But mistakes and sins do not equal failure. A person may say, “I have never succeeded in anything and my life is worthless.” Those are words born of pride and self-pity. Do not accept that label. You are not a failure! You are a child of God and He is not yet finished with you

If anyone deserved to feel self-pity it was Joseph. He was thrown into a pit by his brothers, handed over to slave traders, sold into Egypt, accused unjustly by Potiphar’s wife, and thrown into jail for years. But, incredibly, there is no hint of a pity party. Joseph was miraculously released from prison and became second-in-command over all of Egypt.

Consider his words to his brothers in Genesis 50: “But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive.’” (Genesis 50.19-20 NASB)

Nothing happens in this life that is not first sifted through the fingers of God’s hand. No matter the evil intent of the doer; no matter the degree of pain and suffering; no matter how much was lost, Father God will use it for His own purposes. And His purpose is to glorify Himself; to bring us to Himself through Jesus Christ so that we may know and love Him; to enable us to love others as God the Father loves us; and, thus, to shower blessings on you and me, His children.

You cannot fail in this life unless you fail to know God through Jesus Christ.

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