Posted in Faith, Personal Development

Four Steps to Facing Failure

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In my life time, I have heard many quotes on facing failure and learning from mistakes. Just listen to the wisdom of some people who have been successful. They can be quite inspiring.

“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
– Samuel Beckett (novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet)

“When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.”
– Eloise Ristad (musician and author)

“Winners are not afraid of losing. But losers are. Failure is part of the process of success. People who avoid failure also avoid success.”
– Robert T. Kiyosaki (businessman and founder of Rich Dad Company)

On the other hand, sayings like these can be very discouraging to someone who has just experienced the sting of failure. Their simplicity seems to delegitimize the pain of failing.

Can I be honest about this? It hurts to fail. I don’t want to put time, energy, and resources into planning and reaching a goal only to fail.

I’m certainly not successful like the people featured above, but I just have to say this. It’s okay not to like failing. Really.

Maybe you made a plan, put in lots of effort, and didn’t meet a goal. Maybe you studied hard and didn’t pass a test. Maybe you thoroughly researched an idea and it didn’t produce results. Maybe you made a commitment to a relationship and it didn’t last. It’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to grieve. Failure is a type of loss, and loss is painful.

Eventually though, when you’ve properly experienced the loss, you need to get back up, learn from the mistakes, and try again. How can you face failure in a healthy way?

  1. Take time to experience the loss. I know I already said this, however, don’t skip over this step. Each situation will be different, but it is important not to minimize your emotions.
  2. Identify what you did well. All is not lost. Celebrate the positive elements and accomplishments. Ask others for their feedback. Their perspective is valuable.
  3. Examine what you need to improve. Think about how you could do things differently, and then determine to make the necessary changes. Again, ask for input from others. They may see things that you missed.
  4. Above all, remember that you are dearly loved by your heavenly Father. Your worth is not determined by your failures or your successes. He loves you. Period.

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you (Deuteronomy 31:6, NLT).

We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love (Romans 5:3-5).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You that my worth is not based on my accomplishments. Help me to answer Your call, give my all, and learn from my mistakes. Be my strength and encouragement. Be my teacher and guide. Please remind me that failure is never final when I keep my eyes on You and refuse to give up. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

 

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Posted in Vision & Goal Setting

Take a Different Look at Your Goals

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Did you know that the success rate for New Year’s resolutions is a mere eight per cent? I don’t mean to burst your bubble this soon into the New Year. Really, I want to help.

I know we’re only a week and a half into 2017, but how are you doing on your goals? Perhaps you don’t officially make New Year’s resolutions, but do you have a goal you’re working toward?

I am a hard core goal setter. I regularly evaluate my life and identify an area for change. It’s exhilarating to envision a better future when motivation is at its highest. However, within a short period of time motivation wanes and the goal I was so stoked to accomplish is nothing but an uphill battle. Evidently this feeling is universal. Thankfully it doesn’t have to control us.

Here are some tips to use when you face inner obstacles that threaten your progress.

  1. Don’t be in a hurry. Don’t wish for a quick fix. Remember that lasting positive change takes time. Commit to work toward your goal over the long haul. You are learning a new life style or skill. You are developing an important plan. You may need to adjust your pace for a marathon instead of a 100 yard dash.
  2. Take it one day at a time. One moment at a time if necessary. Even though you set your mind for a marathon, you also must live fully in the present and not get overwhelmed by the future. You can conquer temptation in the now, but the load will seem too heavy when you add potential temptations down the road. You can deal with the stress you face today, but you will get into trouble if you add the stress of tomorrow.
  3. Set smaller goals. Don’t give up on your big goals, but set smaller bite-size goals to focus on and celebrate. If you need to lose 50 pounds, stop and celebrate (sanely) when you lose 10 pounds. Then continue toward the next 10 pounds. If you take 2,000 steps, one step at a time, you will walk a mile.
  4. Change your mindset. Don’t allow a negative perspective trip you up. You are not being “deprived” when you “give something up.” You are not “sacrificing” when everyone else “gets to have fun.” Frame your decisions as positive instead. You are choosing a better path for your well being. You are investing in your future. Declare it out loud until you believe it.
  5. Ask for help. There is power in support and accountability. Find someone you trust and respect to walk with you. Above all, invite the Lord to walk with you. He is already with you, and has the strength you need for success. Knowing you are not alone will encourage you toward the next step.

Take a different look at your goals and experience success. I believe you can do it, and it will be worth it.

May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed (Psalm 20:4).

So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised (Hebrews 10:35-36).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You that Your mercies are new every morning, and that You give me opportunity for change. Help me to honor You with my goals. Empower me to be successful. I trust You to accomplish Your good purposes through me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Posted in Character, Faith

Put Away the Cookie Cutters

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My husband and I own a home-based pie business. This may surprise you—my husband is the one who makes the pies. I help where I can, but he is the one with the expertise for pie crusts and creating artisan pies. My primary job is to make the cut outs for the top. It’s fun to roll out dough and use cookies cutters to make decorative shapes. Throughout the month of February, I cut out dozens and dozens of hearts. Each heart was the same shape and size, and made a lovely pie crust. We have a pi symbol for National Pi Day. We have a cross for Easter. Cookie cutters are handy for baking, but not for our lives.

When I was a young woman in ministry, I assumed my journey would look like the journeys of my mentors and others I respected. I thought that successful ministry meant to lead a growing, thriving church or evangelistic organization. Humble beginnings were fine but only if it developed into something bigger and more notable. I myself was on the track to God-honoring success. At the age of 18, I was a featured soloist for Christian community events and led worship with a trio for evangelistic meetings with attendance of over 2,000 people. I believed that, as I followed Jesus in obedience, ministry would only increase. That’s what my cookie cutter for ministry looked like.

How shocking that God’s path went a completely different direction. By the time I was 24, I had four small children and was hidden away as a youth pastor’s wife in a tiny logging community. When I prayed about ministry opportunities that were offered to me, I sensed over and over again that I needed to decline. I would politely say “no” while arguing furiously with the Lord. This clearly did not fit my mold.

Eventually the doors were open for music ministry again. I loved leading worship for services and conferences. I wrote songs and recorded two CDs. Music was my passion and I thought it would be a part of my life forever. Then, four years ago I started to feel the stirrings of a new direction. It led away from music and church ministry altogether.

Today, I love serving Jesus as the Executive Director of a non-profit organization, a speaker and a writer. But it isn’t what I ever imagined myself doing. No cookie cutters for successful, vibrant ministry looked like this. But that’s okay.

Our heavenly Father has called us to an adventure with twists and turns that require trust. We keep our eyes on Him as He directs our next steps, with confidence that He truly knows what’s best for us and His Kingdom.

Have you followed a carefully charted course, and yet find yourself in a place that surprises you? Has life thrown some twists and turns your way? Do you believe you are where God wants you, but it doesn’t look like what you imagine? It’s okay. Put away the cookie cutters. Success isn’t measured by numbers, results, or position. It’s measured by loving obedience to our loving Father.

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:8, NIV).

Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).
Prayer:

Heavenly Father, I praise You that Your plans are good. I surrender my life to You, and trust You to lead. Help me not to measure my success by the standards of this world. Help me measure it according to Your Word. Thank You for calling me to follow after You. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted in Character, Servant Leadership

Do You Need to Redefine Success?

girl_in_mirror_1_of_2_by_everlite

When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see someone successfully answering the call of God? Do you see someone who is dearly loved and treasured by Him? If not, why not?

May I just say that if you are doing your best to follow Jesus, you are successfully answering God’s call. And no matter what circumstances you face, you are deeply loved and cherished by Your Heavenly Father.

The world has such a narrow definition of success, and it has infiltrated the Church. As people God has called to lead, whether that be in a church setting or market place ministry, at home or in public, we must diligently guard ourselves from the deception that measures our worth by visible outcomes.

My husband and I were involved in pastoral ministry for over twenty-five years before we took a break. In the early years we were called to serve churches out in the middle of nowhere. We poured ourselves into the people of our community and saw Jesus work powerfully in lives. It was wonderful to be a part of radical transformation as someone encountered God’s love and learned to walk in relationship with Him.

Because we wanted to be the best that we could be for the Lord, we read the books popular at the time about church growth and dynamic leadership, and we diligently applied the principles. But despite our efforts, while we saw people grow, we were not successful at numerical growth. To say it was painful to evaluate our success based on our ability to apply someone else’s ministry model is a serious understatement. Yet how realistic was it to expect a similar outcome in a registered ghost town (population 500) as in a mid-sized city?

In addition to leading small churches, I also homeschooled one or more of my five kids over a span of 20 years. I believed the Lord had called me to invest in their lives in this way, and He graciously provided for our family to live on one income. But there were times I felt like a failure. We weren’t involved in homeschool cooperatives. Our schedule was simple and revolved around church, music, and occasionally sports. There were days I itched to do more. I knew I was capable. For some reason, though, when I would start to pursue more activity the Lord would reign me in. He would remind me, “It’s not time for you to be involved in this.” And again, I would slow down.

Everywhere we turn, bigger is better and more is the gold standard.

But that way of thinking doesn’t equate in God’s Kingdom.

So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven (Matthew 18:4 NLT)

Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant (Matthew 20:26 NIV).

Humility. Serving. Less is more. Loving God and being faithful to Him trump everything else. How well are we doing in these areas?

Success is when we can look in the mirror and know we are being faithful to do His will.

And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people (Romans 2:29b NLT).
Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I confess that I often measure myself by the world’s standards. Help me to keep my eyes fixed on You and what You have asked me to do. Let me realize that being faithful to do Your will is enough. I surrender anew to Your plans and purposes for my life. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Posted in Character, Faith, Servant Leadership

Do You Struggle with the Messiah Complex?

What do David Koresh, Jung Myung Seok, Claire Bennet, and Batman have in common? At first glance this group may seem to be quite diverse. However, underneath their differences lies a solidly imbedded Messiah Complex.

A person with the Messiah Complex believes that he is the savior of a group, event, time period, or in radical cases, the world. In some instances, he may not claim to be the savior, but his followers may treat him as such.

The Messiah Complex has many forms. It may rear its ugly head through someone like Adolf Hitler. Fortunately, most of the time it is not so extreme. It is usually much more subtle. If not careful, even the best servant leaders can be fooled by its delusions.

During my experience as a leader, at home and in the workplace, I have caught myself entertaining (and acting on) some of these thoughts.

My gifts are extraordinary and rare.

If something is going to get done, I have to do it.

Nobody else understands the situation better than I do.

I know God is in control, but He needs me to do the work.

I’m the only one with the power to fix this problem.

The result of my thoughts and actions has been frustration, overwhelming stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. Frustration and stress from working too many hours without rest and not sharing the load with others. Anxiety and exhaustion from carrying too much weight on my shoulders and enduring too many sleepless nights. This is clearly not the Lord’s will for those He loves and has called to partner with Him as leaders.

I’m not advocating giving up the pursuit of excellence or resigning responsibility. However, there is something wrong when we believe that success of a mission rests solely and squarely on us.

What about you? Do you recognize any of these symptoms? Could it be that you too struggle with elements of the Messiah Complex?

We thrive in life and leadership when we walk in humility, realizing everything we are and accomplish come from God. Jesus Christ is clearly the only Messiah.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you (Romans 12:3, NIV).

There is great assurance in realizing that we are part of the magnificent Body of Christ. Jesus Christ is the Head.

He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy (Colossians 1:17-18).

We can be free from carrying the weight of responsibility, knowing that the outcome is ultimately up to the Lord.

Cast all of your cares on Him, because He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps (Proverbs 16:9, NLT).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank You for calling me to lead, and for the grace and humility to fulfill Your call. Reveal to me when I place too much trust in myself. Help me to rely on You, trusting You as the One True Savior. In Jesus’ name.