Failure, are you afraid?

I’ve been invited into a fellowship. For five hundred years, a fellowship was understood, Tolkien-style, to be a collection of humans engaged in mutual support. [Definition] The fellowship I’ve been invited to is Phoenix Community and this post comes from our last meeting. I get to meet with a group of pastors and leaders of this group as they plan and think about their next sermon, the one that will be delivered by them on Sunday.

I’m the newcomer to the group and as I figure out my part and how I can contribute I’ll be posting here the thoughts and words as they come to me. I am accepted as the Chaplain of Caffeine and it gives me the chance to write again as I did once when I was a chaplain for the Christian Motorcycle Association.

The current series is dealing with fears and this week’s discussion centered on the fear of failure.

Are you afraid of failure?

I believe humans are unique in creation. We are the only species with unlimited potential. Do you believe you have more in you? That you are capable of more? We all have that. Deep down, we are creatures who can learn, practice and teach and the things we can learn, practice and teach are unlimited. When we put our collective heads together and pool our resources, we can go to the moon and back. We imagine travel to the moon, Mars and beyond in search of more.

We don’t know everything and sometimes failure is catastrophic. Apollo 1 is an example of that. Challenger’s explosion after launch is another. It was awful to watch those things happen but we can’t be afraid of trying because we failed. After we mourn the loss, we can learn and teach as a result and plan to not fail in the future. Apollo 13 is a success story that came out of failure. They failed to land on the moon but they solved multiple problems during the journey and got those folks back home in one piece.

Thankfully our failures are not all as costly but even the small ones give us reasons to hold back. To sit on the sidelines and not contribute all we could. We ask “what if this doesn’t work?” or we say “this might not work”.

Does that stop you?

It doesn’t have to.

Let me point out a difference that might not be obvious. Are you giving in or giving up? Giving up is the real failure. To quit and never try again. That’s a failure. It’s shutting the door to what you can learn and the opportunity to succeed.

Giving in is acknowledging you don’t know enough but you can learn more. We always have that potential. Things happen to us we don’t expect but the question should be “what did I learn?” and then comes the chance to try again. It’s an open door.

Part of the discussion centered around contentment and satisfaction. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:11-13 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me but I don’t believe Paul was satisfied with sitting still.

He wanted to share the Grace of Christ so much he did it everywhere he found himself. It might be in the Temple, preaching and sharing what he believed or in chains in prison because of what he did in the Temple. He was content with his circumstances but still had a mission until the day he died.

At the end of the meeting, a question was posed. We were asked to fill in the blank.

“I am most content when I am __________________?”

What is your answer to that?

Mine is “I am most content when I am learning”. I am learning how to face that open door of “giving in” until I know enough to step through it.

If this was helpful for you I’d invite you to come back. My thought is I’ll post here on Tuesdays after the meeting of the fellowship. I don’t get to preach nor do I feel led to do that but I am a writer and this is one way I can participate in this fellowship I’ve been invited to.

Thanks for listening,
Jerry Robertson
Chaplain of Caffeine