I am a broken record with this book.
We can relate, can’t we?
It’s like Angie Smith opened up the play book of the cross-cultural worker’s life and is chapter by chapter in What Women Fear cutting right to the heart of our fears. Today’s is no different: the fear of failure.
When you are called to a life of service, what does it mean to succeed? What does it mean to fail? And how much should our feelings be our guide? Feelings are not bad—and often can be used to guide us!—but they are not supreme.
Do we succeed because others are helped? Or because we showed up? What if we get to the end of a term, or a decade, or a role, or a life and look back, fearing what we will see is a mis-spent season?
In the movie, Mr. Holland’s Opus, he comes to the end of his teaching career and believes that he is a failure. He believes that he has “blown it,” by not publishing the symphony he’d been working on for years and that he wasted his time pouring into students. Not quite wasted, but that his time could have been given to something more important or grander than teaching high-school students.
This scene is about 10 minutes and worth every minute! You can also watch it with your kids :). As you watch it, think of yourself as Mr. Holland and the Holy Spirit as the Governor. If you’re reading this in email, you can watch the clip here.
Isn’t the powerful? What a picture of what the Holy Spirit can do in our lives: reveal what is really going on below the surface. When Mr. Holland considered his life mis-spent and a failure, the governor reminded him: “We are the melody and notes of your opus. We are the music of your life. We are your symphony.”
I don’t know how you are feeling in your life of service right now. But I do know this, chances are you feel you have failed or are failing. You wonder if you have messed it up. What’s worse, what if the mess-up shows up years later and people realize what a fraud you are?
Enter Angie’s chapter and five wise words for us related to failure.
1. “Sometimes the fear of failure steals the beauty we were meant to create. . . . To me, failure means it doesn’t turn out the way I wanted it to. To God, it means I didn’t pick up the brush.”
In light last week’s theme (Art), where have you put down your brush thinking, “I can’t do that here. I could do it there, but not here.”
2. “What I saw as a character flaw, God saw as potential. What I perceived as weakness was going to be my glory-fit. What I was sure was failure was actually the heart of my success.”
What part of your personality or giftings have you wanted to change, but the truth is, God loves that part of you?
3. In the story with Moses, God, and Pharaoh, our idea of what success and failure looks like are rather different than God’s. “It seems to me He is trying to cultivate an obedient heart in Moses.”
I’m reading David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell right now and it is challenging me on how I have been programmed to view success/failure and advantage/disadvantage. How is God helping to rewire you?
4. “As I consider what God is calling me to do, despite my own misgivings, I need to remember the staff given to me. In the midst of my fear, He hands it to me as a reminder of His great power. I didn’t create the staff, nor give it any power. I merely hold it, waiting for further instruction.”
Oh man, this can be a hard one, can’t it? If there is a staff in your hand and a rock near by, the urge to start swinging can be s-t-r-o-n-g!
5. “Exhausted yet pursuing.”
Pursuing. Yes. Even if I have bought the lie that it is small or will only have to be repeated (hello dishes, disciplining kids, and laundry). In the act of pursuing, I am playing the notes of my opus, which will sound different than yours. Both both of our opuses are beautiful.
Any other movies or books you thought of related to this week’s chapter? What else is going on as you read this chapter? See you in the comments!
P.S. Next week we’ll discuss chapter 5.
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