Posts Tagged ‘Failure’

Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

July 21st, 2017

In your inadequacy, you discover God’s sufficiency.

 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV.

My thoughts and comments today ask that you consider, “Inadequacy or Sufficiency?

Problems are a part of life. In life and its myriad of circumstances, people are prone to measure problems and the probability of success according to their present resources and personal abilities. There will be times when you feel inadequate. However much experience and expertise you acquire, there will still be challenges for which you are inadequate. That is reality, but neither weakness nor prediction of failure. It is not failure when you face a problem you cannot solve, a need you cannot meet, or a habit you cannot conquer.

It is failure when you try to accomplish those things in your own strength and resources, without including the One who is greater than the challenge before you. “Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 145:3 NIV. With boldness, Paul differentiated between his own inadequacy and the unfailing sufficiency of God, “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV. Sufficiency always and only comes form God.

History, as well as Scripture, is filled with examples of ordinary people who recognized their limitations and realized God’s extraordinary grace and power. Hudson Taylor, the great British missionary to India in the later 1800’s, wrote, “Many Christians estimate difficulty in the light of their own resources, thus they attempt very little and they always fail. The real giants have all been weak people who did great things for God because they reckoned on His power and His presence to be with them.” Hudson Taylor achieved remarkable things because he was confident that a great God was with and within him and offered himself for God’s use.

When God chose you and me, He knew what He was doing and what He was getting. The Bible speaks plainly,“Few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. And He chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. So that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” Read 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 NLT. And God was clear about His purpose, “That you may know what is . . the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead.” Read Ephesians 1:18-21 NKJV. The power of His Resurrection confirms His sufficiency.

You discover God’s sufficiency when you accept your inadequacy. The process is this: “God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8 NIV. God’s abundant grace empowers your effective ministry to others, but is not for your personal embellishment. Paul’s testimony was, “The Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV. Because God knows our weakness, He releases His strength to accomplish through us what we could not achieve without His empowering, “. . according to His working which works in [us] mightily.” Colossians 1:29 NKJV.

Today, I pray for you to trust and find that God is within you, and He is enough.

Christian Communications 2017

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Success with Satisfaction

January 22nd, 2016

“Our only power and success come from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5 NLT.

Success without satisfaction is failure not success.

My thoughts and comments today are about “success with satisfaction.”

Success is a more complex subject than might first be assumed. Sir Winston Churchill captured the process as, “moving from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” Ultimately, success requires an untiring enthusiasm and expectation. Let success be your goal, but make satisfaction your measurement of success.

Success is a common, even innate, desire of the human spirit. God wills your success. About that fact, the Bible is clear. “Beloved I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2 NASB. God wills you to enjoy financial sufficiency, ample health and strength, measured by a singular standard, “as your soul prospers.” “Our only power and success come from God.” Read 2 Corinthians 3:4-5 TLB. Apart from the spiritual dimension, whatever measure of success you achieve will be unsatisfactory. Success without satisfaction is failure not success.

Do not let the world around you dictate what success is for you. The apparent success of others may mislead you into assuming your success will look like theirs. The Bible warned, “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” 2 Corinthians 10:12-13 NIV. The world measures success by tangible acquisitions, notable achievements, popular approval, others’ applause, or material gain. “Then I observed that most people are motivated to success by their envy of their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless, like chasing the wind.” Ecclesiastes 4:4 NLT. The world’s standards are different from what God values.

You must decide to which you will give irreplaceable years of effort, energy, and expense. Establish your personal definition of success. Without Godly benchmarks for measuring, you may not know when you achieve it or recognize when you have not. Contentment and satisfaction with what you achieve is a more reliable measurement of success than the tangible rewards that result.

For me, where I find the greatest satisfaction and most prize any measure of “success” are family and ministry. I will count Gayle’s and my success by the fruit of our family’s lives, the faith and values we hold in common, enjoying and loving one another’s company, and our mutual love and service for the Lord and His Church. Our family is central to my definition of success with satisfaction.

As for ministry, I evaluate ministry on the twin bases of obedience and faithfulness to God’s call, having done what He asked and been faithful where He placed me. Honest appraisal reminds me that God’s grace and people’s graciousness have been the source of success.

Today, I pray for you to measure success by the satisfaction you find in doing God’s will.

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Errors and Faults

October 11th, 2013

“Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults.” Psalm 19:12 NKJV.

Good friends can help you; God’s Word will guide you.

My thoughts and comments today are about “errors and faults.”

Mistakes are a part of life, made by imperfect people in an imperfect world. “No one can see his own errors; deliver me, Lord, from hidden faults! Keep me safe, also, from willful sins.” Psalm 19:12-13 TEV. Try to avoid mistakes when possible, manage them when they occur, and always learn from them because you will make others. May your mistakes be small, quickly remedied, and cause no loss to you or others.

Let me share a few practical things I have learned from mistakes, which I admit have not been infrequent. Serving in a conspicuous and public position, my errors of judgment have not gone unnoticed, but thankfully have usually been viewed with understanding – even grace and forgiveness from God and people. Mistakes are not permanent or final unless you allow them to be.

Don’t be afraid of making a mistake. Fearing mistakes is the surest way to make one. You will make mistakes, small and large. No one can prevent every mistake, but you should be clear about obvious choices of right and wrong. “Anyone then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.” James 4:17 NIV. Better that your mistakes are errors of judgment, rather than failure of character. Character failures are far worse.

Admit your mistakes. Why try to hide them? That never works well. See Proverbs 28:13-14 NLT. Remove any pretension that you are incapable of making them. A mistake is rarely any surprise to those who know you well, and doesn’t typically matter to those who don’t. Failure to admit your mistake is a vain attempt to preserve an illusion that you are incapable of being wrong. Sadly, that is not true of any of us. Why waste valuable time acting as though it is? The quickest way to correct an error is to recognize it, learn, and move on.

Learn from your mistakes. It is said that mistakes are often the price of progress. “Learn from science. In science mistakes always precede the discovery of truth.” Author William Saroyan. It is not how few or many mistakes you make that matters; it is how few or many times you make the same mistakes again. Learn from your failures so as not to repeat them. Good friends will help you; God’s Word will guide you. Read Psalm 119:9-11 NKJV. Welcome honest input from others you trust, valuing their objectivity, experience, and advice. See Proverbs 19:20-21 NIV. No one can make decisions for you, but the best decisions will include wise counsel. See Proverbs 11:14 NKJV.

Mistakes always cost somebody something. Limit them when you can, and correct them quickly when they occur. Don’t be cavalier about your own mistakes as though they don’t matter; they matter to someone. If you depreciate their seriousness, you will not be as careful to avoid them. Be more generous with others’ mistakes than you allow for your own. Don’t be casual about them. Humility and honesty are the best way forward.

My prayer for you today is that you learn from your mistakes and rise above every failure.

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Success and Failure

July 31st, 2013

“The Lord was with [Joseph] and gave him success in everything he did.” Genesis 39:3 NIV

Success is found in your capacity to appreciate its blessings fully and honor God humbly.

My thoughts and comments today are about “success and failure.”

There is a lot of confusion about this idea of success. Opinions are as diverse as the individuals giving them. Whatever anyone else says, what you believe about success is of first importance. It is a good feeling when others see you as successful, but ultimately there are only two opinions that really matter, yours and God’s. Only how you view your life and accomplishments and, when you stand before God, whether He can say, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” will matter eternally.

The crowd is rarely right. If you are relying on the majority opinion you will be misled. The difference between what is popular or important is vast. There will be big surprises in eternity as to who and what merited applause and acclaim, as well as whose recognition truly mattered. You must answer a simple but important question, “Whose applause do I seek?” Jesus described the sad plight of those who, “loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” John 12:43 NKJV.

As I have grown older I have learned that success is more about who I am and the quality of relationships that I have – with God, my spouse, our family, and our friends – than things I have or have done. The good opinions of acquaintances are appreciated, but the more accurate appraisal of those who have known me – in the ups and downs of life, both mine and theirs – is invaluable. If they speak well of my life, and family, and ministry, then I have had success.Here are some of my observations about success.

Success is related to clear priorities and enduring, eternal values. See Joshua 1:8 NIV. You will not give the effort needed or sacrifice required to anything you do not count as valuable and as a priority above your comfort and convenience. Success is the product of your doing well and doing so consistently for the long term. Many have made a lot of money and yet made a mess of their lives. Some have been praised for accomplishments at work, but left a destroyed marriage or family at home. Too much success, or the wrong kind of success, can destroy so much that is irreplaceable.

Success is not the product of your talent and hard work alone. Others will share knowledge and experience you do not possess, provide opportunities you have not earned, and give you help and expertise along the way and, more importantly than all, God will have been gracious toward you! “As long as Uzziah sought the Lord, God made him to prosper.” 2 Chronicles 26:5. Success will quickly sour if God is not honored as its Source. If you fail, fail at things unimportant. Where you succeed, succeed in things of eternal significance.

Success is found in your capacity to appreciate its blessings fully, share its benefits generously, handle its responsibilities wisely, and honor God humbly. Remember, as with Joseph, it is true, “The Lord gave [Joseph] success in everything he did.” Genesis 39:3 NIV. I pray that you experience the height of success in all you are and do, as the Bible says God desires for you. “Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, even as your soul prospers.” 3 John 2. Spiritual prosperity will be your crowning success. See Matthew 6:33 NKJV. Keep first things first; the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing. Without God, any success is just another failure.

My prayer for you this day is that you value the eternal above the temporal.

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Realistic Expectations

February 27th, 2013

“Jesus . . knew what was in man.” John 2:25 NIV.

One’s better potential is possible; others’ expectations rarely are.

Patience is easy to claim until something or someone tests it. Some years ago, I met a person wearing a puzzling lapel button with an unpronounceable mixture of letters – PBPGNFWMY. My curiosity prevailed and I asked of its meaning, receiving their explanation that the letters stood for, “Please be patient; God’s not finished with me yet.” How different your life, and relationships, could be if you remembered that simple reality. We all tend to expect a lot from people, often more than their capabilities at the moment. If you remembered our common humanity, you would have more realistic expectations of yourself, as well as others.

I think there is a difference between seeing the best in another person or having unrealistic expectations of them. One’s better potential is possible; others’ expectations rarely are. Seeing the best is to believe yourself, or another, holds potential just needing encouragement to be realized, while unrealistic expectations determine what you desire a person to be and demand they become. You, and most others, are capable of more than we require of ourselves – better behavior, greater achievement, stronger discipline, or kinder interactions – but all of us often fail the expectations of one another.

Jesus knew people, perfectly. He not only identified with our humanity; Jesus embraced yours and my humanity completely, “yet without sin.” Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT. John’s Gospel explains, “Jesus did not need man’s testimony about man, for He knew what was in a man.” John 2:25 NIV. Another translation reads, “. . because Jesus knew what was in their hearts.” Today’s English Version.

I am intrigued by the idea; Jesus knows what’s in a man’s hearts. Jesus sees the best in you and works to bring out the best, but also knows your human frailty. He is neither surprised when you are your best nor when you are not. Jesus faithfully calls you to a higher standard, yet understands your best would still be imperfect. That is comforting to me because my heart and intentions are often better than my performance at a given moment.

Jesus knows my heart – that I want to be better than I am; I can be better than I am, but I am not always better than I could be. I think you who are reading this can probably identify with such a confession. My realistic expectation for you is as was Paul’s for the Philippians, “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you . . being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:3-6 NIV. 1 John 3:1-3 NKJV.

Simon Peter is well known for his spiritual lapses, none more recounted than his denials of Jesus. After His Resurrection, Jesus affirmed Peter’s love. Mindful of Peter’s failure but knowing Peter’s heart, Jesus said, “Satan has desired to have you . . but I have prayed for you that your faith fail not: and when you are converted, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22:31-32 KJV. Jesus saw and believed the best of which Peter was capable. The word, “converted,” is from the Latin “convertere,” meaning “to turn around.” The word used by Luke can also describe “a rope twisted until rigid and strong.” Jesus knew Peter’s heart; Peter’s failure neither defined his past nor declared his future. Nor should yours.

My prayer for you today is that you are confident of the potential God sees in you.

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