Accepting that you fail isn’t accepting failure

Fear. We all experience it. Our circumstances are just different. Maybe you’re starting a new job. Maybe you’re facing a life-changing decision. Maybe you’ve got a project on your plate that you don’t know how to do. And it’s scary.

I wouldn’t say that I run away from things that scare me, but I do have an extraordinary talent for living in denial. And I’m a very creative person, so I can come up with all sorts of believable excuses to get out of doing the thing I’m afraid to do.

I fear failure. I fear letting people down. I fear letting God down. I fear that one day I’ll find that my best isn’t good enough, and that no matter how hard I try, I’ll never accomplish what I’m supposed to accomplish. And that fear gets so strong in my heart sometimes that I convince myself it’s better to not even try, because why get my hopes up, why get anyone else’s hopes up, when I’m only going to fail.

706BA1163FToday’s verses are Romans 8:15-18.

So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.

You will fail. Period. Just start wrapping your head around it right now. You are going to fail. Every day you’ll fail. But there’s a difference between accepting that you will fail and accepting failure.

Accepting failure is giving up. It’s giving in to the fear that’s lurking in your heart. It’s believing a lie about who you are and who God is. A Christ-follower is never ever called to accept failure, and we have no excuse for accepting failure. Why? Because we’re not God’s slaves. We’re His children, and we have access to every bit of His power.

But accepting that you will fail is different. We have all been there. I was that kid on the barn swing too afraid to jump out of the hayloft because I knew I’d fall and make an idiot out of myself. I was the kid with the answer in that college classroom too afraid to raise my hand and speak up because there was a possibility my answer was wrong. I’m that writer who’s afraid to say what I really think because I’m scared how people will react.

The difference between accepting failure and accepting that you’ll fail is whether or not you pick yourself up again after you faceplant. If you’ve accepted your failure, you’ll stay down. What’s the point of getting up anyway? You’ll just fall down again. That’s what you tell yourself. So you stay down. But if you can accept that you will fail in your life, you’ll be able to get up again. It won’t be easy. And it’ll still be scary. And you may have to go through some really, really hard times. But you’ll try again. And who knows? With God’s help, maybe you’ll succeed.

Don’t be afraid to call out to Him for help. Don’t be afraid to call a friend for help either.

Don’t fear failure. It happens to everyone. It’s what you do with it that matters. Just because you fail doesn’t mean you can’t try again. Don’t focus your energy and emotion so entirely on the outcome of what you’re trying to accomplish. Focus instead on why you’re doing it, but that reason is what you’ll fall back on when you’re looking for the strength to stand up again.

 

Running for home base, Manhattan, KS

Make up your mind and say what you mean

Have you ever met someone who always says something different than what they mean? Maybe it’s because they’re afraid of confrontation. Or maybe they’re not good at communicating. But either way you can never trust what they say because they never tell you what they mean.

I’m pretty passionate about communicating. That was my degree, but I think I cared a lot about it before I got my degree. I think 99.9% of problems in our lives can be avoided if we’d just talk to each other, but you’d be shocked to know how few people actually talk. Oh, people say things all the time. But there’s a big difference between talking and speaking.

Running for home base, Manhattan, KS

Running for home base, Manhattan, KS

Today’s verse is Proverbs 14:3.

A fool’s proud talk becomes a rod that beats him,
but the words of the wise keep them safe.

I think there’s a fear among Christ-followers that being too direct about anything will make us come off as overbearing or unattractive. And there’s some truth to that. I know direct people who don’t think about how they sound or how they’ll be perceived, and most of the time they come off as loud or abrasive. And, honestly, in most instances they come off as ignorant—just people spouting off because they don’t know better.

That’s the last thing any Christ-follower should want. But the opposite of direct is just as unattractive.

Do you know wishy-washy Christ-followers? Those people who are sort of weak-kneed, who will agree to anything just so they don’t rock the boat.

Whether you’re talking about something out of the Bible that God says or just a common sense part of life in general, people appreciate directness. Not rudeness. But direct and rude aren’t the same. People just think they are because so many times direct people are just plain rude about it.

Say something is going on at work that you don’t agree with and somehow you end up in the middle (because you’re just blessed). You have a choice on how you’re going to handle it. If you’re a Christ-follower, you have a responsibility to stand up for what is right, but you also have a responsibility to speak the truth in love. There’s that direct-without-being-rude concept I mentioned above.

Or, you can sit back and nod and smile and be overall noncommittal. That’s easy. Seriously, it is, especially if you don’t like conflict. There’s nothing easier in the world than to sit back in your chair and not participate in the conversation at all.

And maybe in some circumstances, that’s the best way to handle it. But if there’s something going on that you know is wrong, don’t you feel like you need to step in and stop it? If that’s the case, how do you do it without being rude? Do you waver and quaver all over the place?

You can, but nobody’s going to listen to you.

It’s like going into a fast food restaurant and trying to order a meal without telling the order-taker what you want. Have you ever tried that? Try it. Go into a McDonald’s and order something without telling the person at the counter what you want. They’ll look at you like you’re crazy. Or they’ll lose patience with you. Or they’ll ignore you.

None of that is what you want. You have to be direct. You have to know what you want, and you have to be brave enough to just say it straight out, without being rude about it.

First, make up your mind. Know for sure what you’re talking about. If you’re weighing in on a situation that you don’t understand, leave the room. Or shut your mouth. If you don’t know enough about the topic to be discussing it, just be quiet and claim ignorance. Know enough to know when to keep your mouth shut.

Secondly, don’t beat around the bush. Just say it. Don’t use big words to make yourself sound smarter. Don’t use phrases to make yourself sound experienced. People respond better to short words used well than to long words and phrases used to inflate their speech. Most people can see right through inflated language.

Thirdly, be humble. Don’t sit there and act like you know everything. Don’t scoff at people or roll your eyes. Be respectful. Be real. Be open. Be honest. Be kind.

If you litter your words with phrases that don’t mean anything or jargon from your industry, those are big red flags that tell everyone you’re compensating for something.

So say what you mean. Be direct about it, but maintain your sense of respect and humility. Don’t waste their time or your time filling your speech with words that don’t matter or analogies that don’t make sense.

If you know what you’re talking about, if you’ve made up your mind, and if you speak clearly and concisely without trying to impress anyone, guess what happens? You’ll impress people. And you’ll become someone people know is worth listening to.