Failure as a prerequisite for success

Really? Then, Success takes time, effort, and more time. No quick fixes.

Without allowing time for development, training, and refinement, leaders may falter. They may have knowledge, but lack the refinement that comes through experiences – especially failure.

I recently heard a church planting consultant list some of his requirements for church planters. On the top of his list was an age requirement of 35 years. When questioned about it, he said he could go down to 30, but still prefers church planters to be at least 35 when they begin the planting process.

He specified the church planter needs a certain level of experience in life that only comes through time. Time allows for experiences. Those experiences allow for failures. Then those failures bring refinement that can only occur through failure.

So don’t set aside those who have failed in life. They may be just the right person for success.

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Mission and compassion

Mission for the sake of doing mission becomes dull and mechanical. But when mission is driven by compassion, it comes alive.

Jesus was driven. He was driven by compassion for people who were hurting and troubled in life.

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).

For us, mission may have begun with a sense of compassion, but things change over time. the mission becomes a movement and then eventually it becomes an establishment. Then later, when the establishment grows, it becomes difficult to maintain it. Ultimately, the mission changes from being driven by compassion. It becomes driven by the establishment. Maintaining the establishment becomes the primary aim and in effect, the mission becomes the establishment.

Jesus refrained from developing an establishment to support his mission. His disciples followed his example and kept compassion as the driving force for mission. Thus the mission stayed as the mission.

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Censure that insults

Common knowledge says that you reap what you sow. If you sow evil, you’ll reap evil. But when people who have sown good things all their life begin to reap evil, we have a problem. That common knowledge becomes the problem.

This was the conflict with Job and his friends. Job hadn’t sown evil, but he reaped evil. His friends couldn’t make sense of such a thought. How could good people suffer evil? That’s only for people who have done evil things in life. Therefore, they concluded that Job must have done evil things in life.

Job objects and says he is innocent. He has done nothing to deserve this lot in life. He speaks against their accusations. He cuts it down with a force.

His friends couldn’t understand this. They were set on their one-track idealistic thinking. Job’s resistance was insulting to them.

“I hear censure that insults me, and out of my understanding a spirit answers me” (20:3). It’s time to put our understanding to the side. Life is too vast for our understanding. We must cling to God and his unfailing love for us.

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My Vulnerability

My vulnerability – Christ my strength. My vulnerability – Christ my shield

It’s scary to be vulnerable. Especially in complex societies like the one I live in. Just about everyone wears masks. It is so common that it has become the norm.

If I am vulnerable, then I have to reveal my weaknesses. Others can easily use the knowledge of my weakness against me. Thus I open myself up to danger.

If I am vulnerable, my inconsistencies will be used against me. Others will label me as an unreliable person. No longer will people view me in the same light.

But if Christ is my strength, I can stand up against the onslaught of attacks that I may face. I stand vulnerable with Christ as my strength.

If Christ is my shield, I am protected against ferocious arrows that attempt to pierce my soul. I stand vulnerable with Christ as my shield.

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One thing that matters

With the events of life just “swirling” around you, nothing may make sense. It’s difficult to define what’s going on as you are in utter confusion.

You had always hoped for the best, but what you got is the worst. The career and salary you hoped for is nowhere in sight. The relationships you hold on to have come to nothing. The friends you thought were friends proved to be your enemies. You look at your life and wonder what else can go wrong.

In such a situation, you’ve got to hold on to the one thing – the one person that continues to have your best in mind. Job looked through the haze of his troubles and saw the One who can make a difference:

“For I know that my redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another” (Job 19:25-27a).

So this is what God was trying to do. To bring him to the point where nothing else matters – but God.

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Leave me alone, God

    Ever felt like God is after you? Maybe he’s looking to catch you doing something wrong. You’ve felt like every moment of every day, he’s after you.

    In a more extreme way, Job expressed his experience with God:

“What is man that you make so much of him, and that you set your heart on him, visit him every morning and test him every moment? How long will you not look away from me, nor leave me alone till I swallow my spit?” (Job 7:17-19)

    The reality is that God has made you his child, and his children are valuable to him. Job felt that God was testing him and looking for fault. Yes, he allowed Satan to do that. God wanted to prove that his children love him genuinely because he is worthy to be loved.

    If God is testing you severely, he has a plan. Understand that he values you so much that he allows this. Troubles prove that you are his child. He knows that your love for him will stand even the most severe trials.

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Forgiving those who won’t forgive

    Loving your enemies is often not much of a difficulty because we distance yourself from such people. So we can “love” them from a distance.

    But what about those who are close to us and won’t forgive you and those who won’t accept you? If unforgiveness continues, bitterness begins to take root. Thus the combination of bitterness and unforgiveness begins to control you.

    Not only your thoughts and emotions, even your decision making process gets impacted. It’s as if you have no choice. You’ve become entangled in this process. Now, you are in a bondage. And this bondage is so strong that you can’t get free.

    So here is the deal: If you want to be free, forgive. Do you want to move forward with your life? Forgive.

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Misunderstood silence

    When trouble and tragedy come your way, people will misunderstand you. They’ll think you’ve done some terrible things to deserve this. The best approach is to be silent. Otherwise, speak less.

    But even your silence may be misunderstood. They’ll think you’re groping for words as you try to cover up your guilt. This is what Job’s friend Bildad assumed about Job’s silence. He said: “How long will you hunt for words?” (Job 18:2a)

    The reality is that trouble strikes everyone. The righteous and the unrighteous suffer. The innocent and the guilty ones may experience similar tragedy. Only you and God know your true state. Stand firm and trust God to carry you through every pain in life.

    Just as your words may be misunderstood, your silence will also be misinterpreted. Don’t look for people’s approval. Trust God to bring you through every trial.

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Don’t speak the truth

    Speak with wisdom instead. Speaking the truth without considering the circumstances, the environment, the people around you can be detrimental to yourself and to the task you are out to accomplish. In fact, it may be outright childish.

    Even when you speak the truth, use wisdom and consider the heats of your listeners. Sometimes the truth may be too harsh or even repulsive to the ears of the people listening to you.

    When the king asked Nehemiah about his sadness, Nehemiah chose his words carefully. He could have mentioned the nation of Israel, the temple of their God Yahweh, and the palace of their king. But he didn’t. He knew those words would mean rebuilding and establishing another kingdom that could become a potential threat in the future.

    Instead, Nehemiah used wisdom with his words.

“But I said to the king, ‘May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my fathers are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire? (Neh 2:3)

    It sounds personal and less offensive to say “the city where my fathers are buried.” That was the the truth. Those were words used with wisdom.

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In spite of despair

    How deep can a person go in despair and still hold on to God?

    I just got a phone call from a friend who has been battling depression for some time. He mentioned how he held on trusting God to come through. Although it took several months, he pulled out of it completely.

    There are others who just can’t hold on to God. They turn to alcohol, drugs, suicide and other vices that eventually destroy every aspect of their lives.

    In his deepest despair, Job could have turned to various other means for comfort. But he kept his eyes on God. Even death was not an option. Here is what he said about looking forward to death:

“Where then is my hope?

Who will see my hope?”

(Job 17:15)

    It’s time to make a choice today. Who will I turn to in despair? How far will I go in seeking comfort? The options are many. But the only true answer is to keep your eyes on God as Job did.

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