Fearing Failure

Failing Others

One abiding impediment in our effort shed our addiction to success is the constant fear of failing others. We see in our children a requirement to achieve a certain economic status, as though the bulk of humanity was raised in large homes with massive air conditioners and a couple of cars in our garages. We see in our spouses the need to prove ourselves time and again to maintain our affection, ignoring the fact that most of us found spouses when we were much poorer. We hear parents or grandparents, some long dead, informing our career choices and savings level and status. We fear letting any of them down economically.

Failing God

Then there are those who know the fear of the Lord but little to none of his grace. They are so afraid of failing God that they make every effort to live out an impossibly perfect life. When they inevitably fail they are consumed by self-loathing then often double-down on their attempts at good deeds and moral perfection.

The Great Lie of Success

These fat cats have everything
their hearts could ever wish for!

The great lie of success is that somewhere, someone is successful in a way I wish I was but will never be, but that person feels the exact same way that you do. The great lie of success is that the man who drives a Ferrari and lives in a dozen mansions must climb mountains and live as an aesthetic and feel poverty to feel alive. The great lie of success is “the grass is always greener.” The great lie of success is the road to hell on earth and hell after the earth. So much anxiety lies along the path to success, so much pain and suffering in pursuit of a constantly-shifting target.

The Thing About Birds

Jesus in Matthew 6:25–27:

The Torment of Detachment

Through the Eyes of God

Asaph is torn up by the way the wicked prosper and good people fail. He is tempted to speak ill of God to others, but then he stops and considers things from God’s perspective:

Jesus, Failure

We must learn to walk in the way of our Lord. I have never failed everyone like Jesus did. My my. Thanks be to our Lord Jesus for humbling himself and taking on human flesh, setting aside his right as the Son to claim equality with God, living as a poor child in poor Nazareth! His mother and father heard that he would be the savior of the world — heard this from angels! What promise! He was raised right in a godly household. He showed such promise, even escaping to the Temple to learn on his own and be in his true father’s house! What wisdom!

This is Jesus, failure: he is Jesus triumphant, Jesus risen, Jesus Lord of all!

You will never be Jesus, but if you pursue him will all you are and all you have, he will define the terms of success. Burdensome expectations only aid us if they reveal the gifts we have to give to him, not to our parents or kids or culture. He takes what we offer and imbues it with meaning. He uses our talents in ways we would never otherwise expect. He frees us from burden of failure by forgiving our failures freeing us from wearisome expectations. He sets our feet on his path and lays on us his own burden, which is light. It is the burden of faith: believe in me, he said, because I am the way.



Pastor, FACWS.org — Boards: Boards: MonarchNC.org envisionatlanta.org saalliance.org — MDiv SEBTS, BA Duke

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