We must learn to be bold, brave, and daring in this culture that preaches moderation. This is the cautious culture that we have to raise our children or grandchildren up to be adventurous in. The world’s going to want them to step in line, just like it wants us to step in line, but we have to be willing to follow God wherever He leads, even when it is out of line and off the beaten path.
We each have value as children of God. We can lose our jobs and still have value. We do not have to make as much as our neighbor or our spouse to have worth. We do not have to be the best athlete, the best in our field, or have the most athletic children to be exceptional. We should never base our self-esteem on anything other than our relationship with Jesus. That’s crazy talk in our world of pride, scorn toward failure, self-help, and independence.
But it’s the talk of the Apostle Paul. “I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” This contentment that Paul tells us that he has, the contentment that is available to all of us through Jesus, will last through any storms. It is independent of any physical situation.
There are two types of people. There are those who let life beat them up, have given up, and just coast through life. Then there are those who give life their all. They are willing to quit their jobs and go start a business, move to another country to achieve their dreams in starting a farm, or to make the sacrifice to go back to school and better themselves. They take life by the horns rather than letting life stampede over them and gore them.
Richard Branson is one of those who has taken life by the horns. He’s the founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines, Virgin Galactic, and 400 other companies – all of this was started with a record mail order business in 1970. He had this to say about failure in an interview with Seth Godin.
“Do everything you can to survive and not give up. As long as you try everything you can, if you fail, you will sleep okay, you will pick yourself up. When things are better, you will learn from your mistakes and start again. If, on the other hand, you give up too readily, you will forever kick yourself.”
“Don’t take failure too seriously…You should realize that it is an important to just learn from it and come back and start again. An awful lot of really big multi-millionaires and billionaires have been through two or three bankrupt companies in their lives, have learned from them, and come back stronger.”
“Don’t be embarrassed about your failures as long as you have tried everything you can to avoid it. Don’t take it too personally.”
So we keep trying new things. If we are on our way to failure and keep trying the same old things, failure will most assuredly come. But we can always change and try something new.
Each of us must be failing if we are to succeed. When was the last time you failed? If it’s been a while, then you have stopped living. We can either have two approaches in life – coasting through life or living through life. Coasting is to only try things that are guaranteed and never risk anything. In this approach we will never truly live or accomplish anything. The other is to take on the attitude of Paul, to be content, and rest assured in the saying, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” It’s that mentality that will enable us to make a difference.