Over the past few blogs, I have shared about success. This time I would like to share about failure. Failure is the essential building block of success. Without failure, success would not exist. Think about it. How would we be able to measure success if there was no failure? This analogy can be compared to a ruler without numbers. If you had a wooden ruler that had some markings, but did not know what the markings meant, what worth would that piece of wood have? It wouldn’t. It couldn’t measure anything. It couldn’t have any meaning, therefore, it couldn’t logically be called a ruler. Failure and success are the same way. Success is the numbers on the ruler, while failure is the ruler itself. Therefore, success cannot be logically measured unless failure is involved.
When Thomas Edison was asked why he didn’t just give up when discovering the light bulb, he stated that he never gave up, he just found what was needed one time. He never viewed his failures as negatives but as a positive. Without the failures he had, he would have never discovered the filament that was necessary. Without failure, we would still be lighting a candle in our homes and lighting fires to keep us warm.
If failure never occurred, how would we learn? How would we know what is right and what is wrong? How would we understand that we shouldn’t touch the electrical outlet as a child or else we may be shocked? How would we know that fire can burn unless something got burned? Without failure, we cannot understand the basics of life. Unfortunately, most people don’t accept failure and view it as a negative.
How many times have you heard someone cheer when the failed? Never. How many times did you hear someone cry when they fail? Maybe sometimes. How do you feel when you fail? What goes on in your mind when you fail? I know in my mind, I get frustrated, aggravated and angry when I fail. I don’t like failure especially when it comes to work. I hate the times when I can’t fix a machine. Yet there are times the reality is that there is no solution, therefore, I (and others) view it as a failure.
How about our relationships? Are they successes or failures? I consider my marriage to be a success. My wife and I have been married 16 years and have had many ups and downs. One day, my wife asked my son to rate our marriage between 1 and 10. 1 being the uh-oh and 10 being it is perfect. He gave our marriage an 8. Why only and 8? He stated that it was because he sees times when we argue over little things, therefore it can’t be perfect. However, he also admitted he sees our love as well. Interesting isn’t it? Our son sees the imperfection in our marriage but recognizes the love we have for each other. I consider that a great success.
Unfortunately, I have also encountered some failed opportunities. These are not the times in which I decided not to do something and should have or times when I didn’t take an action when I should have. This failed opportunity was actually a success in my life. It was a time when I was taking every opportunity to share the love of Christ with some of my customers.
Almost 15 years ago, I had a customer that I would see very often. He would call to have his copiers fixed and I was there to help. We enjoyed talking about our marriages and joked around about everything from sports (he loved baseball) to work related areas. On many occasions we would sit in his office, after the machine was fixed, and talk. He shared how his marriage was failing but how his favorite baseball team was doing. Over time, I started to ask him questions about his beliefs. He stated he grew up Jewish but no longer believed that God existed. He believed in science and logic.
One afternoon, I had fixed his machine and we sat and talked. I asked him if I could share something with him regarding my beliefs. He stated, “I already know that you believe in God. I don’t believe He exists.” I asked again to talk with him. He said he would talk but he would never believe because he didn’t see the logic. I explained, “Here is what I will tell you. You will admit to me one of two things. Either you will admit that God exists and you want to have a relationship with Him or you will tell me that you refuse to believe because you don’t want to.” With a cautious smile, he took on that challenge. He was either going to admit he didn’t want to believe or he was going to believe.
We spent hours talking about historical evidences regarding Christ, logical views regarding Creation and simplistic approaches to other scientific areas. I am not the most learned man, but he noticed I was able to hold my own. After 3 hours of discussion, he turned to me without a smile and said, “You were right. I am ready to admit one of the two things you said.” My heart pounded with anticipation. I had hoped for this day, when someone would turn to Christ because it seemed the most logical step. He continued, “I refuse to believe. I know what you are saying is true, I just simply refuse to believe it.” Devastation filled my heart and soul. How could someone admit that God did exist but they wanted nothing to do with Him? Then I thought of Adam and Eve. Adam walked with God in the Garden of Eden, had discussions with God, yet rebelled anyway. He knew God existed but refused to listen.
So why was this a success for me? Simply, I did what I had been called to do. I simply shared the love of Christ with someone, which Christ Himself commanded us to do. He never said, “Go therefore into the world and convince people I exist.” He actually said, “Go therefore and make disciples…” In order to make disciples you have to have people who believe. It is God’s responsibility to convince people that He exists, not ours. We don’t need to hound people with the Gospel, we just need to share it. Let God do the rest. Then once someone accepts, make them a disciple. Teach them, share with them and live life together.
The greatest failed opportunity someone will ever have is when they die without Christ. They then have no recourse to change their minds. They will enter eternity without Christ wishing they could have another chance. This particular failed opportunity showed me that to be successful in Christ, all I need to do is share His Word and message. I don’t need to defend or convince anyone. All I need to do is share. Then one day after I have shared Christ with someone, for the last time on this earth, God will call me home and say, “Well done my good and faithful servant. Come and enter into My rest.” Those are the only words I need to hear to know how successful I was. Go and share the message of Christ with someone.
God Bless and encourage someone today.