Lately, it seems as if there have been a lot of blogs, leadership articles and even quotes from Navy seals going around talking about how our fear of failure is the only thing that holds us back. I have even read a lot lately about those who “failed” and tried again, the likes of Walt Disney being told he couldn’t draw and Oprah Winfrey being told she was “too relational” to be a newscaster. I even read this quote by Jon Acuff:
“Fear would have told the Wright brothers not to fly. Fear would have told Rosa Parks to change seats. Fear would have told Steve Jobs that people hate touchscreens.”
Then today I saw this video:
We all knew what was going to happen. Susan Boyle and others have paved the way for this audience to know he was going to be great. I have heard it often said that one piece of negative feedback drowns out the praise of millions. Christopher Maloney hid for 34 years under the weight of those that said he would “make a fool of himself.” He of course proved them wrong.
HOWEVER, Sometimes we do indeed get egg on our face. Some youtube videos go viral with what we wish hadn’t been recorded.
The other day a young man in my group admitted he has been harassed for about a year now. He works out all the time and as a result is a strong, athletic kid. He started working out because he wanted to make the football team, and the work paid off. Yet, at just 13 there is a kid in his class who tells him, ALL THE TIME, that he is weak. This compels him to do one more push up, and to build one more muscle. We had a great conversation about how to deal with this “negative” voice, and all the reasons the other student is being mean. I said all the “right” youth pastor stuff.
I walked away realizing how I do the exact same thing. Someone tells me I am wrong in ministry or life or as a parent and I set out to PROVE myself. It stings when someone “important” mentions you aren’t really good at the one thing you thought you did well. I work harder and harder to try and show them. Sometimes I am Christopher Maloney, I simply shirk away from who God has created me to be.
Our fear isn’t in failing. It’s that we tried and fell and it really hurt. Sometimes we get back up broken, bruised and beaten. Pioneers rarely feel successful the moment they present a new idea. The status quo is comfortable and “shaking it up” makes others supremely nervous. It’s only after the path has been cleared that people want to take it with you.
The lesson we need to learn (and pass on) doesn’t lie in a “how to list,” as much as you would love it. There isn’t a quote that can MAKE you do anything. It’s really the lesson I need to pass on to that young man. We will fall down. Sometimes we are pushed to the ground. It is reminding others that bruises heal and scars fade. There is a choice to get swept away by the pain, or believe that pioneers make history.
Truth is it isn’t about fear or failure at all. Sometimes the Lord says to us, “Come with me this is going to be fun!” We look out on the waves and say, “Fun is not the word I would use.” He says, “Trust me.”
It’s about teaching this generation to stand up and learn how to TRUST HIM. I need to be better at trusting Him. Haven’t we heard, “Scars are just tattoos with better stories?”
What do you think about failure?