When given a choice between writing about failure or success, I seem to default to failure. This may have something to do with the Mennonite in me. After all, we are supposed to be a humble people. So in a strangely dysfunctional sort of way it is more spiritual to talk about failure. Another advantage to failure is that it tends to be more universally measurable. Everyone knows when we blow it. Success seems to be more elusive. For example, last Sunday I preached at my church. I felt pretty good about the sermon. People even came up and thanked me for what I had to say. Some folks were even emotional when they thanked me. Then on the way to my car, I was stopped by an older gentleman who was not happy with the sermon. Apparently I did not read enough scripture.
This experience has led to all kinds of reflection. After all, what is success? Or what is failure? How important is either of these? I have to admit that for the most part I have let my supporters define success and my critics define failure.
I believe that it was Mother Teresa who said, “We are not called to be successful, but faithful.”
I cannot help but wonder how much time I have wasted either being frustrated with failure or intoxicated with success. Paranoia with success and failure has only served to distract me from being faithful to the call of the gospel.
According to the Apostle Paul, a mature Christian is someone who is no longer “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.” When we let others define success and failure in our lives and ministry, we risk being tossed back and forth. Time spent living up to other peoples’ definitions is time wasted.
Focus on faithfulness and let failure or success take care of themselves.