When Failure is Not an Option
I am a prideful guy. I’m not proud of it. I just am. You may see evidence of pride partly in the attitude with which I entered adulthood. It has manifested itself in a variety of applications over the years.
What is the underlying attitude of pride that has marked the last 25-plus years of my life? The determination that failure is not an option!
Failure is not an option in the following ways:
- I will not destroy my life (set against the backdrop of watching my dad destroy his)
- I will be maximally-used by God for His glory in advancing His Kingdom (a veiled desire for self-glory)
- I will walk with Jesus (assuming that personal self-discipline will advance my spiritual maturity)
- I will be successful in my business endeavors (so I worked my body with physical labor in bi-vocational ministry to the point where it became painful to do so)
- I will adopt children and rescue them from the horrors of their up-to-now adverse experiences (not recognizing the depths of my own brokenness)
In it all, God has brought me to the brink of disaster, and then, in what seems like last-minute grace, I sense the voice of God asking me, “Now, do you trust Me in this area?”
I have been walking the road of adoption for about seven years now. The journey started with a focus on adopting a young man who was in the foster system in another state. That did not end as expected. Instead, another family eventually adopted him. Meanwhile, I began to realize my own inability to make something happen in this new arena.
Following that first deep disappointment, my wife and I decided to continue to pursue adoption. We ended up having a placement of two boys. Over a series of months (and a whole lot of chaos in the home) it became very clear that the older boy needed to be removed from the home. We adopted the younger boy. Once again it was becoming apparent just how powerless I am.
Fast-forward to the present time, we now have an additional three children we have adopted from the Oklahoma foster system. One is now going to be transitioning to a Christian group home for children – a place designed to serve kids who have greater needs than can be addressed in the context of their families. Once again, it appears that God is asking the question, “Do you trust Me in this?” To which I tentatively respond, “Yes, Lord, I think I do. Help me trust You more.”
I recently heard a short talk on redefining failure at a foster care symposium. It was just what I needed to hear. The main idea of the talk was that we are failures – not when we try but when it doesn’t turn out as grand and good as we’d hoped. Rather, failure is when God clearly leads you to do something and you don’t do it. A sub-point of the talk included the reminder that Jesus commanded us to love not to fix. That’s His job.
So, do I embrace failure? Absolutely not! I want to live a vibrant, godly life that exalts the glory of God and advances His Kingdom. I want to abide in Jesus and enjoy fellowship with Him in ever-increasing holiness. I want to be successful in whatever my hands find to do in this life. And, I want to succeed as a parent. I think … I hope that I’m beginning to pursue these things from a more humble perspective. More and more, I see that it’s Christ in me and through me – not my own self-determination.
Yes, Lord, I trust You.