Monday, July 9, 2012

Success and Failure

"Success consists of getting up just one more time than you've fallen down."

I read this quotation today and it got me thinking about success. My first reaction to this saying is that it is false. I would not quantify "Success" as a numbers game compared to "Failure". Being the type of guy that I am I love to define terms. So let's begin with a definition of Success:

"The favorable or prosperous termination of anything attempted; a termination which answers the purpose intended; properly in a good sense, but often in a bad sense." (Webster's 1828)

I absolutely love this definition because of its depth. What we see first is that Success is generally a favorable, positive word. Webster defines it as a prosperous termination. Interestingly, the definition of prosperous is: "The state of being successful" (Webster). Ergo the definition is redundant. I think Webster did this on purpose. He wants to press the fact that we are dealing with a "win".

But a vital question must be asked: do you define your success by your failure? I think I am guilty of having done this before. What is the purpose of saying, "Oh yes, I succeeded because all the other times I failed!" Reminds me of the famous phrase:

"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." (Edison)

I fear that in this day and age we focus too much on failure and compare that failure to our (or others) success. Let's tie some Bible verses into the beginning quotation. I believe that the Bible speaks against this saying in a few areas. We are not suppose to count our falls. We are not intended to think so much about our failures, but rather focus on the goal. Just so long as we do as God would like, live for His purpose and glory and not for our own glory. For if we do this, we will succeed. They go hand in hand.

Indeed, God even says that those who are righteous, those who do believe in God, will be able to pick themselves up (By God's grace) but the wicked will not.

Proverbs 24:16 -
"For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes."

Furthermore I think it is key to note that the most important thing to do is follow God. Let's use an analogy:

Consider a minefield. One of the deadliest, most dangerous parts of any battlefield. Say you are a soldier, you know in front of you is a mile long mine field. You have two options to choose from:

1) Just go for it. Run. Try to see if you can just get through it without getting killed.

2) There's a minesweeper. You can pick up that minesweeper and carefully pick your way through the field. Sure this will take longer, but you have a incredibly higher chance of not dying.

I'm sure you can see the connection. We have two options to get through life:

1) Just go for it.

2) Accept and use God as our guide.

I don't know about you, but I think I'll go with option 2 in both scenarios.

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths." (Proverbs 3:5-6)

I would like to posit this conclusion: God will guide us to success. No matter how many "failures" we have. If we lean and live for God. We will succeed. Because we will succeed in what matters. Let's live for God!

"And David had success in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him." (1 Samuel 18:14)

"Save us, we pray, O LORD!O LORD, we pray, give us success!" (Psalm 118:25)


Anonymous said...

That is a very good point!I have never thought of that in THAT much detail! very intresting blog post! Good Job!

JustinK said...

Thank you! Glad the post was insightful. Enjoy more to come!