Feelings of Failure and The Secrets to Success


Failure. I hate that word. I don’t even like to look at it. Ugh.

In my chosen “professions,” I wonder about failure a lot.

My Two Jobs

My “day job” is that of a homemaker and stay at home mom. What is the measure of excellence for that? How do you know if you are doing a good job? If your toddler is happy? (Ha!) How about if your house is always clean? Oh, boy, I hope that is NOT it.

My other job is officially “Minister to Children.” How do you measure success there? Big pay check? Um, nope. Recognition? Shouldn’t be the goal. Attention? What do I look like the youth pastor? (Ha ha, jokes, people.)

One of my recent “fails” (why does it often involve footwear?) I tried, I really did, but procrastination, a missing shoe and a shoe store unexpectedly being closed, along with time running out on more shopping possibilities left her playing her first game of soccer in her dress shoes, but, hey, they were not slip soles. That counts for something, right?

Am I Succeeding or Failing?

The “problem” with these two jobs is there isn’t really a measure of “success” as the world sees or defines it. This causes me to struggle a wee bit (or a lot) sometimes. How do I know I am doing a good job and not actually failing miserably? Because, I’ll be honest, there are things that make me feel like a huge failure. Many things, actually, but here are a few:

Messy counter tops and floors.

My kids NEVER having matching socks.

Forgetting stuff at home and at work (like, in front of people, folks!).

The ever present “pile o’ junk” on my kitchen table that somehow changes, but never goes away (unless I hide it in the cabinet before company comes).

There it is, in all its glory–the pile o’ junk, which is actually quite small today.

Procrastinating on sending stuff in the mail (my record is taking over 3 years to send a wedding gift–awful, I know!).

My voice squeaking when I am singing in front of people.

When I do something totally awesome, like punch myself in the face on accident (don’t ask, because I don’t think I’d be able to tell you how, I think I knocked the memory clean out of myself. Also, I don’t recommend trying it.)

Some of these things and (unfortunately) lots more leave me feeling like I have a big ol’ L on my forehead. And, there are times when it presses down on me so much that I just want to throw in the towel and go on my merry way, where I can hide and never risk being a failure again (or at least not in public).

One of the few times my kids had matching socks (I promise the foot that you can’t see matched the one you can) and, I admit, it is pretty cute. I will also admit that this happened because a. my mom dressed one of them and b. it was one of the first times the other one ever wore socks, so none of them had been lost yet.

The Truth

After a recent bout with those familiar feelings of failure (say that 5 times fast!), I began to really seek out God’s Word to see what things God sees as success. Who did Jesus commend? And what does that say about His definition of success?

So, who did Jesus commend?

He praised the widow who gave a mite to the Temple offering, because she gave her all. (Mark 12:41-44, Luke 21:1-4)

He commended the men who used their talents and earned more, because they were faithful to use what their master had given them. (Matthew 25:14-30)

He defended Mary to her sister, because Mary had chosen to sit at His feet and soak Him in and, in doing so, had chosen the best thing. In fact, Jesus said it was the only necessary thing! (Luke 10:38-42)

He set the little child in front of the big, fancy folks as an example for them, because the child recognizes and humbly admits his need for God. (Luke 10:38-42)

Looks like I may have to change my measure of success

No road to Riches

You know, as a good-old-fashioned homemaker, stay at home mom and a part time Children’s Minister I can say with absolute certainty I will never earn “success” as the world defines it. Riches and glory are not in either job description for what I do. So, why do I so often use those things as my measure when my measure needs to be the same as Jesus’? I have no answer to that question, but, obviously, I need to change.

Therefore, behold, my new measure of success based on who Jesus commended:

Do I give my all in my work?

Do I faithfully use the gifts and talents God has entrusted to me?

Do I spend time, as much time as possible, sitting at His feet in awe, doing the only necessary thing?

Have I depended on Him with the need for my soul to be cleansed as only He can?

Do I humbly depend on Him for all I need, confidently trusting Him, with the faith of a child, to provide?

A New Measure

My faithfulness, endurance and daily focus of “why” and “how” I go about my tasks are the true ways to measure my success. My reason for doing all in my life must be to please, honor, and glorify Him and I must do it all in His power. After all, what else do I have to repay this great love He has lavished on me, but what I do with my days? I must do all for Him and with Him or it will certainly be a failure.

Praise God it doesn’t ever have to be.

I can be faithful to use what He has given me and never give up and the true moment of success will be that in which I hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant,” Matthew 25:21

It can be for you as well. So, go on now and get on that fast track to success!

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