Make it obedient to Christ…
2 Corinthians 10:5
The times you failed.
Previously I wrote THIS POST about keeping an encouragement file. You need this too.
A failure file may be equally important.
In fact, it could likely be your greatest teaching tool in the future.
I am reminded from the Bible that Rahab never lost her title. She was always known as Rahab the Harlot. Even in the faith chapter. Rahab the prostitute. Rahab went on to be a great figure in Biblical history, yet her past followed her to remind her…and us…of the grace extended to her.
Your failures will serve in the same way.
I’m not saying live in them. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t move forward from them. Actually, I’m saying the opposite. You’ll need to remember how you’ve recovered and what you learned in the process. You’ll need reminding…if failure ever finds you again…that you found your way back, that God’s grace was sufficient, and that you can recover again. The valuable lessons learned in times of failure, will be the wisdom that sustains you in the future.
Keep a record of them.
How has failure shaped who you are today?
A young leader asked me recently, “What has gotten you where you are today? When you look back over your life, what would you attribute most to your success?”
Great question. I love people who think.
My first thought was to ask, “What success?”. When I look back at my life, in many ways, I see a life scarred with personal failures and setbacks. But, as I pondered the question for a couple days, I knew God has blessed me greatly, so I came up with a more comprehensive reply. Let me be clear about something, one of my missions in life is to help younger leaders succeed, so that’s why my motivation for answering this question. I am still very much a work in progress, but as I reflect on where I am midway in my life and career, I can clearly point to some things that have helped me succeed personally.
God’s grace – I can’t deny it. It’s really all grace. I do not deserve the favor I have found. His grace has been amazing in my life.
Other people – I have had so many people invest in me. Don’t misunderstand. I’ve been intentional with networking and wisdom seeking, but I’ve had great people in my corner to help me along the way.
A little luck – Honestly, I don’t believe much in luck. It IS all grace. I think God is always at work around us, and He certainly has been in my life, but sometimes we find ourselves in “the right place at the right time”. Learning how to capitalize on those times has been key for me.
Purpose – I have usually known what I ultimately want to accomplish. I believe you hit more targets that you have in site. Sometimes that has been a few months down the road or a few years down the road, but I’ve most always tried to keep some direction in front of me…as much as God will allow me to see at the time.
Intentionality – Probably if there were one word to describe how I live my life it would be this one. Since I was in high school, I have intentionally pursued opportunities to accomplish where I felt God was leading me. But, I’ve been intentional in every area of my life, not just in my vocation. I think that is critical to living a balanced life.
Tenacity – I have weathered a few storms…actually, many storms. My list of failures, setbacks and disappointments is long. Every time, again, by God’s grace, I have gotten back up, refocused, learned valuable life principles and moved forward.
Commitment to help others – I genuinely love helping other people succeed. It’s been a pulling force in my life to do much of what I do. The purpose of this blog, for example, is for that reason. My personal investment in others has always returned to me tenfold.
So, there’s my attempt at an answer. How would you answer that question?
What has gotten you where you are today?
I’ve often heard it said some people “never grow up”. It is said in a humorous way. My wife may say that about me at times. But, many times it is said in a not so funny way, usually speaking of a person’s continued immaturity.
I have another thought. Maybe for some people it is that they have never had an experience that instills maturity in them. It’s possible.
I’ve personally experienced and observed that there are some circumstances in life that bring more automatic maturity…a sort of forced growing up mentality.
A first child
Losing a parent
Having to make it on your own
You can mature naturally. You can grow up over time. But, in my experience, you grow up faster when life experience grows you up. You don’t have to grow in these experiences. Some don’t. You either own up to the challenge, or you don’t. But, when you do, you grow up faster. At least, that’s been my observation.
(By the way, that’s why I believe in giving young leaders experience where they can grow. You can read a post about that HERE.)
Have you ever been forced into a new season of maturity? What caused you to suddenly “grow up”?
What would you add to my list?
Most people have a dream. Most people have goals they want to accomplish. It could be to run a marathon. Lose 10 pounds. Write a book. Start a blog. Open a new business. Fill in your dream here.
Be honest. It’s true. It may even be true for you. It has been for me many times. I’ve wanted to accomplish something but years pass and it is still simply a dream.
Why is that? I’m sure there are many reasons. I’m just sharing some of them.
No specific plan
No first step
Cowering to public opinion or popularity
Giving up too soon
No accountability or measurable steps
Not including others
Inefficiency, poor time management or laziness
Lack of follow through
Success not clearly defined
What other reasons have you seen for why people don’t accomplish what they hope to do?
Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable-if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise-dwell on these things. (Philippians 4:6-8 HCSB)
(By the way, that’s the secret.)
Cheryl and I were discussing the need for mentoring recently. She was talking about getting older women to mentor younger women. I like the concept. I think it’s a great example of Biblical discipleship.
Then Cheryl said something that caught my attention. She said, “Everyone thinks they need a mentor, so they don’t think they can be one.”
I think she’s right. She’s right on both accounts. It seems to be true for men too.
Everyone probably does need a mentor. Mentors help shape our life. I’ve written extensively about the subject. (Find some of those posts HERE.)
Yet, the fact that they do makes people think they can’t be one.
But, everyone can also be a mentor.
You too can be a mentor.
You’ve learned some things in life. You’ve gained some experience. You have some things to share with others. There are others who can learn from you.
In my experience, its often when I start investing in others that I stumble into the help I need from others.
Try it. Find someone to mentor today.
Have you ever been a mentor? Tell me about your experience.
Lately I’ve been going through a season of helping people discern change. It’s been change of churches, change in jobs, and change in ministry assignment. It could be because I’ve wrestled through changes in my own life recently. I’ve learned God uses experience to help others going through similar experiences, so I’ve been more able to help people with change.
Anyway, recently I was listening to National Public Radio and heard an interview with a Canadian born, European artist Chilly Gonzales. Chilly is a piano player. I don’t know a lot about him, but I’m excited to check out his music. I’m impressed with what I’ve seen so far.
The interviewer asked him a question that spoke volumes to me. I thought his answer was a great test to discern a change.
The interviewer said (and I paraphrase), “Chilly, you write lots of songs. How do you know which ones to record?”
Chilly’s classic answer:
Wow! Classic. Genius. Helpful.
I instantly realized that was my experience with my recent change. I resisted coming to Immanuel, thinking I wasn’t a good fit for them, nor them for me. Yet, God wouldn’t leave me alone. The position wouldn’t leave my thoughts. I couldn’t get over the idea of being here.
Could God be using the repetition of thought to draw you to His will?
Be sure to read the “related posts” on discerning change.
This is a guest post by Bill Blankschaen. Bill is a writer, thinker, speaker and non-profit leader passionate about connecting real life with real faith. You can follow him on his blog, Twitter, Facebook, and at Patheos.
Changing your direction in life is never easy. Especially if what you’re presently doing is truly helping a lot of people. Yet we all know change is unavoidable. So how do you know when it’s time to go?
I’ve wrestled intently with this question for the last nine months. As a non-profit leader for a dozen years in a successful Christian school, I knew I was doing a lot of good. People shared their sincere appreciation often.
Yet I sensed a restlessness within. I felt a call, subtle at first, to better steward my God-given gifts of writing, thinking, speaking, and – yes – leading change along the way. My passions, above all, pulled me toward connecting those gifts with my faith.
And yet my faith was what motivated me to serve where I was. Hence, the tension.
Maybe you’ve been at that conflicted fork in the road before. Maybe you’re there now. I decided it was time to step out by faith after getting a lot of wise counsel and asking some critical questions.
Have you ever faced a significant change in your life direction?
What questions do you suggest to help get clarity during seasons of change?
Leave a comment to share your story or suggestions for growth.
My father was probably the most bottom line guy I know. One of his most quotable lines was “The main thing is don’t get excited.” If anyone was ever tempted to stress about an issue he would interject that often repeated line.
Occasionally, I remember him adding another sentence into stressful moments. He would say, “It is what it is…”.
In other words, you can’t change it now. That’s a fact, Jack.
Admitting that “it is what it is” allows you to quit complaining and actually do something about it.
Your marriage is in trouble…
You have a spending problem…
You’ve let your weight get out of control…
You’ve been a lousy friend…
Your relationship with God is struggling…
You are surrounding yourself with bad influencers…
You are in over your head…
(Insert yours here)
Now that you’ve admitted IT…