The Successful Failure!
Jan 16, 2017 // By:Dave // No Comment
Success! Failure! These words hold opposite ends of the measuring stick in our culture. Those around us who “drank the koolaid” are quick to attempt to place people at one end of the stick or the other based on they’re perceived success in this world. Struggles are a prerequisite to success however. Without obstacles, what is there to claim a victory over. Success over what struggles is the unasked question. What is success?
Our culture has changed focus over the last few generations. There was a time (that even I can remember) when character was more important than accomplishment; when honor was more important than might. The people lifted up and held as role models were men and women of true character, honest and selfless rolemodels of society that we wanted to be like and hoped that our children would grow up to be like as well. Policemen, firemen, statesmen who stared into the face of danger or obstacles to protect others, individuals and even countries from evil. Virtue used to be something we considered worth upholding.
“Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point” C.S. Lewis
Who are the public “heros” today ? Sports figures, musicians, actors who are held up as brave just for using their public limelight to parrot the liberal propaganda lines. It has even degraded to generation wanting to be cool like the rappers who sing about criminal and violent acts, like the sports figures being handcuffed for beating their girlfriends, etc.
Pleasure is now the purpose of life. Instant gratification is the grease on the wheels of our culture. Struggles and difficulties are not only seen as undesirable but even as evidence that the one experiencing these things is not holding their life together well enough, as if anyone can actually live a struggle free life ?! Really, is that realistic ? Money is the tool to protect oneself from difficulties and struggles, so the pursuit of money and it’s accumulation is the mantra of this culture bent on a twisted definition of success.
Success is measured by the value of what has been achieved, right? So one person’s success could be viewed as a dismal failure by another with differing priorities as well. If one cook sets out to cook a delicious three course meal and succeeds in his own eyes, forgetting that he was hired to create new mouthwatering desserts, the person who hired him will call him a failure and may even fire him to hire another who pays attention to his bosses instructions!
Here is a great time to point out that we are created for His intentions and purposes, not our own. If God created and redeemed us to reflect His glory and tell the greatest story ever told (the Gospel), then we can spend our lives earning money, getting rich, finally owning that new car, putting our kids through college and owning a home … etc, etc … it’s all wasted time. (We are the cook making the wrong meals and daring to act confused when the boss gets upset).
Let’s take a look at something the Apostle Paul wrote on this topic of wasted effort and time. 1 Cor 13:1-3. Yes, the great love chapter!! What could this have to do with the measure of success. Well, I’m looking at the definition from God’s dictionary rather than man’s.
Man says success is: a favorable or desired outcome, the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence
God says success is: the faithful application of love to anyone around you that God puts in your path.
Let’s look at this from the man’s definition: wealth, favor, and eminence.
- who’s wealth (and what defines the wealth) ?
- who’s favor?
- what eminence (rank or title)?
These very words used to define success are themselves needing definition. their substance and source define and demand a bias (like a color of sunglasses changes the color of everything then seen) and “success” receives that same bias since it is built upon the foundation of it’s definition. (i.e. I can see the favor and monetary reward of the German War machine during WWII and achieve these, but my fellow Americans would not view me as successful would they? I would instead be viewed as quite unsuccessful and even a traitor. (and I would not be surprised to find myself soon hanging at the end of a rope with my gold coins stamped in German, in a pile on the ground beneath my feet as a message to all others who might be tempted to try this brand of success!!)
How I define success is just as important as how I achieve succcess because we are created by a loving God who is even more concerned with how our hearts grow that the materiala things we accomplish in the process.
There is a well known metaphor of a catepillar changing into a butterfly (and how this represents the metamorphosis of the unbeliever into the believer) but a less known fact in this transformation is a very small window of opportunity when the butterfly is about to emerge from it’s chrysalis (cocoon). The butterfly can always be observed to be in a life-struggle to emerge from the hole at the bottom of the cocoon; a hole that seems too small for it to fit through and will seemingly die if it fails. The truth is that if you try to help it and enlarge the hole, you condemn this creature to a short life of crawling about, never being able to even fly at all.
The process of struggling through the hole squeezes on the insects abdomen and helps push liquids into the vessels through it’s still compacted wings. This opens the wings, flattening them out into full stretch, so when the butterfly is fully exited and hangs on the side of the crysalis for it’s wings to dry, they dry at their correct size and width. The butterfly needed the struggle in order to get useful wings to fly. There is no other way. The struggle causes growth. Obstacles create new strength. James 1:2-3
This is really easy to apply to the christian experience. Only in trials does our faith become tested and made stronger. James 1:2-4. God allows, even brings struggles into our lives because He desires, as the most loving thing anyone could desire for another, is complete Christ-likeness (and total dependence upon Him in faith) 1 Cor 10:13, Phil 4:13
It is the struggle that causes us to grow. Rom 5:3. Without resistance, there is no triumph of the heart and no growth of faith. The struggles we face are not punishments from God, nor are they something to be avoided at all costs. The struggles are often the greatest blessings since, as a matter of human track record, we do not learn from our apparent success, but rather from our failures. We are stronger after the trial, not after the smooth sailing. It is the gym workout that tones us and increases our endurance, not the month long vacation, swinging in a hammock and watching thousands of clouds drift overhead. We get soft without adversity. We grow weak without resistance.
How does God measure your success? Are you looking at your mirror, your house, maybe your checkbook for the measuring stick ?
Struggles are not a sign of weakness, they are the path to getting stronger! (and life struggles in the life of the believer are not always evidence of secret sin, but often evidence of God’s love for us!) The truth is between you and God.
How about using the measure of a successful life that has existed ever since mankind experience being inspired and empowered to record the thoughts of his creator … the Bible. Heb 4:12
Let God define your success, train your heart and mind to understand and desire it Matt 6:33, and to run for it. Heb 12:1-3, 1 Cor 9:24
εν διακονια τω θεω, Dave Cadieux