Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions in order to better their lives, get in shape, or be more productive. They typically have something to do with achieving more and gaining better results. It makes sense. We live in a society that lives life by the numbers.
- If you can bench press more than last week, you’re succeeding.
- If you can do more work than yesterday, you’re succeeding.
- If you make more money than last year, you’re succeeding.
We are obsessed with success. Success dominates our thinking in most facets of our lives. I mean, who wants to be a failure?
You might be ready to check out now, but hear me out. What if success wasn’t your goal this next year? What if you shifted your focus on failing? Why on earth would I even suggest this?
Because failure is the key to success.
Anyone who has ever found brilliant success in life only did so with failure, and lots of it. However, failure terrifies us. We’re afraid of what people might say, what our boss might do, or how it could affect our reputation. We allow that fear to hold back whatever is inside of us waiting to burst.
A Lesson from Hollywood
A few decades ago, a young man was eager to learn the film business. His heart was set on studying film and hopefully directing. He decided to start applying to film schools. He applied at one of the most renowned schools in that field, the University of Southern California School of Theater, Film, and Television. The first time he applied, he was rejected. Most of us would give up at this point, but he was determined. He applied again and got rejected once more. And yet, he knew he couldn’t give up, so he applied one final time. Unfortunately, he was rejected for a third time. His dream wasn’t over though. Another school finally accepted him, but he decided to drop out to simply try his hand at directing. Years later, Steven Spielberg is one of the most highly celebrated directors of this generation. He’s made countless masterpieces over his career, and it all started with failure and rejection.
Fear wasn’t dictating Spielberg’s life. Even within his career, he’s had flops. Just this past year, he directed the Disney film “The BFG” which opened to lackluster reviews and a mediocre box office performance. Did Spielberg quit though simply because this last film didn’t work for a mass audience? Nope. He presses on. In fact, he’s already got several projects in the works. Steven Spielberg gets the importance of simply trying and doing the things that he feels passionate about.
You’ve probably got a lot of ideas. Maybe you’ve kept them inside for fear of what others might think.
- Maybe it’s a new event.
- Maybe it’s a certain series.
- Maybe it’s a new format.
- Maybe it’s a new ministry all together.
- Maybe it’s a book.
- Maybe it’s a relationship.
- Maybe it’s an idea.
Whatever it is, you’ve got something within you that the world needs.
Your students need it. You need it. You’ve got something brilliant to offer the Kingdom, but you’re holding it in, hiding it from everyone. Why?
Fear of failure
Fear of failure. We all wrestle with failure internally. We may put on a tough exterior, but a part of the human condition is to fear, and we avoid that which we are afraid of.
A few years ago, I was working out with a personal trainer. He told me to pay attention to the things I’m avoiding at the gym. For me, it’s always running. I hate how I look on the treadmill as I pant for breath. I feel like everyone is laughing at the weird way my legs move when I run. All kinds of insecurities arise when I’m facing the evil treadmill. But what’s weird is I actually love running. When I do it, I feel alive. I only avoid it because of how I’ll look to others or I’ve convinced myself I just can’t do it. I so badly don’t want to look like a failure, but the only way to get better at it is to keep running, even when I might look silly. Successful runners only got to where they’re at because of a lot of failed attempts. No one starts off running 5Ks without a lot of trying first.
A Different Kind of New Year’s Resolution
In this New Year, don’t let fear of failure hold you back from what God might be stirring in you. He wants to use you in remarkable ways, but you have to be willing to let Him. I think that starts by shifting what our goal is.
Our goal isn’t success. Success is too convoluted. There’s way too many definitions of what that is and how to achieve it. I think we should be measuring our success by how many times we fail. Failing means we’re trying. If you’re not failing, you’re not doing anything new. When you actually start doing the new thing you have stirring inside of you, you’re going to fail. And that’s okay!
Life is about failing forward. We make mistakes, pick ourselves back up, and keep pressing on. Life isn’t about comfort. It’s not about being static beings. We’ve been called to go, to move, to try.
Stop waiting for all the pieces to fall into place. You might be waiting forever. Do something today. Try something you’ve always wanted to try. You have no idea what amazing thing God has in store for you if you simply let Him use you in that new and unique way.
You see, following God is the only truly successful thing any of us can do. He doesn’t ask for perfection. He asks for us to follow as we fail over and over in life.
RYAN SCHMALL is the Student Ministries Pastor at Redding First Church of the Nazarene in Northern California. He is married to his wife Jeanette, and together they have three amazing girls. Ryan is passionate about creating experiences and environments for people to encounter God in new and unique ways. You can follow him on TWITTER or read his blog over at IAMRYANSCHMALL.TUMBLR.COM.