Failure: Friend or Foe? (Part I)

(Blogger‘s Note: This is the first in a two-post series on how I look at failure. I’ll post Part II this afternoon in the form a a 7-minute video – a short testimony from Dana and me, produced by Fellowship Bible Church of Jonesboro, AR)


“I’ve come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.” ~ Tony Robbins


Kings of  Failure. Queens of Regret.

Thank goodness God wants us to live in a Realm of Redemption because I invent new ways to fail every day.

And I wouldn’t exactly call failure my friend, but he’s someone with whom I’m very well acquainted.

In fact, up until not too long ago, when anyone asked me about the one thing in life that motivated me most, my response would’ve been – fear of failure. How screwed up is that?

Mile 25 at the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, just looking for the finish line.

Mile 25 at the St. Jude Memphis Marathon, just looking for the finish line.

One day in 2005, after nine months of training, and just moments after completing my first 26.2-mile marathon, all I could think about was the failure of having missed my finishing time goal by 20 minutes. The fact that I’d just finished the monumental race – unfortunately, it was meaningless.

One day in 2008 I woke up to the realization that I was divorced, a business failure, broke, and a likely disappointment in a new marriage to the most amazing woman I’d ever met.

And one day shortly thereafter, my professional and personal life went dark, absent of a vision, and I thought I’d never again have the opportunity to work again in the communication business I loved so much.

It took a long time to grasp, ever so slightly, the concept of Grace, and my freedom to fail without penalty.

“Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:12-14

Experienced failure? Let people down? Got guilt? Violated the very thing you knew was right?

What does God say to that? This, I think, maybe…

“I’m not going to ask for your transcript or your resume. Fallen short?

“It’s okay. And it’s okay to Own It. But I’m God, so for God’s Sake, Own It, But Stop Carrying it Around.”

Watch for the video post later today and see how, for Dana and me, our greatest failures turned into the realization of our most Laughable Dreams.

“The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of, and response to, failure.” ~ John Maxwell, Failing Forward




(in the Bible) Occurring frequently at the end of a verse in Psalms and Habakkuk, probably as a musical direction.

As a “re-dedicated Christian” sometime in the summer of 2004, I first became familiar with the word in a secular sort of way.

The “Christian” music genre became one of my favorites and I came upon the works of a group by this very name. The track “Oh, Draw Me, Lord,” from Selah‘s 2002 Press On album is still high on my song list today. It has only nine words, and it’s a song to which I often just close my eyes and get lost.

From its Hebrew origination, the word is one not easily translated. Scholars say some simple possibilities may be:

  • “stop and listen.”
  • “pause and think of that.”
  • “so be it.” (my favorite interpretation)
  • “forever.”

“Selah,” is found 73 times in the book of Psalms and another three times in Habakkuk. I think about the word a lot. These are 10 things to which today, I say, “Selah.”

1. Today, the church I attend, Fellowship Bible Church in Jonesboro, AR, will dedicate a new church plant, 25 miles down the road in Paragould. Through an intentional approach to reaching out to others through missional communities, the new church will likely begin with a bigger numerical membership than its parent. Not that numbers have anything to do with the price of beans, but it’s a great thing. Selah.

2. I’m thankful for all the things I’ve “unlearned” about the Christian faith over the last couple of years. I’m thankful that none of us, on the day of judgment, will be asked to present our resume, and that our transcript’s already been torn apart. I’m thankful we’ll be seen through the eyes of the Son, who’s completed a finished work. Selah.

3. I’m thankful for the recent opportunity and vision to gather a group of leaders from our “white” and “black” church community … to bring us together and reach

black churches and white churches

With my friend, Pastor Ray Scales of New Mt. Zion Church in Jonesboro, AR.

out across the lines of discomfort … to talk about unity … and see how we might all make a difference together. Selah.

4. As I write, the sun’s coming up in the east, and it’s a new day full of mercy and forgiveness. Joy cometh in the morning. Selah.

5. We don’t have to perform and seek anyone’s approval. I don’t have to wonder about so many things. We are already stamped with the seal of approval, and we are in right standing with God. Selah.

6. The ailing, failing body my dad left earth in seven months ago is no more. It’s perfect, and I hear him laughing with joy every day now. Selah.

7. Among all things, God designed us to have relationships. I have so many great ones all over the world. Selah.

international relationships

Dana and I with our Peruvian friends, Ceasar and Maggie in Puerto Cayo, Ecuador.

8. There’s no such thing as second chances. Our “chances” are infinite. That’s hard to comprehend, but it’s true. Selah.

9. God has given us all so many special gifts. For some unknown reason, He allowed me to be a writer and He encourages me to use that gift more each day. Selah.

10. Each of us is charged with noble ambassadorship, a charge, a mission and purpose. Wow, and Selah.