"Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm."
How inspiring! Only I don't believe it. Intellectually, yes. But if true belief is marked by action, then absolutely not.
Mary DeMuth (a favorite author of mine) tweeted this question earlier this week: How has failure shaped you?
I don't usually engage in these conversations but this one got me thinking. I am terrified of failure. Sadly, the fear of failure has probably shaped me more than any actual failure. How lame!
That is not to say I've never failed. (You can't spend time in treatment without acknowledging some failure.) It's just that I often don't allow failure to make me better.
Here are some of the growth-limiting behaviors I've been known to engage in:
The Shallow Pool
The worst part of all of this is what it reveals about my relationship with God. Apparently I'm still trying to prove that I'm good enough for him to love. And that I'm playing around in the shallow end of the pool, only engaging in activities I believe I can accomplish in my own strength. Worst of all, that godliness=success.
And now for the epiphany (this what happens when I write): I have taken the necessary tension of "being" and "doing" and used it to spiritualize my fear. As I learned to bask in the presence of God absent the pressure of performance, I grew comfortable and lazy. Instead of using his love and mercy to propel me into fearless action, I've hoarded it; afraid of disappointing God or experiencing loss.
Oh crap! I'm the useless servant in the parable of the talents!!
Well, all this has been very enlightening. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Thanks, Mary DeMuth, for your thought provoking question. And thank you, Holy Spirit for your timely and clear conviction.
Looks like 2013 may be the time for some productive failure!
Kelli is a writer, speaker and consultant equipping leaders for a deepening intimacy with Christ, greater impact in ministry and more effective intentionality in all of life.
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