Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Don’t be Afraid to Fail

What???!! Are YOU MaD, I hear you all shouting at the screen!!! Well, you there half reading, whilst watching some rubbish on daytime TV and the cat half arsedly chase a fly ....


No, I’m not mad. If you are afraid to fail, you will never really succeed after all. We put such emphasis on success and winning, competing and outdoing others, and little on the real chance of failure. But people fail every day. Do those people who fail just disappear in a cloud of embarrassment? I doubt it, not if they want to succeed in the end, they don’t. No, all people who move onward and upward have tasted the bitterness of failure. In fact, how can anyone really succeed if there wasn’t indeed the reality of failure itself?


Like many Europeans, and probably many other people throughout the world, I watched the recent Euro 2016 football (soccer) tournament and enjoyed it immensely, apart from England being knocked out by Iceland. Yeah, I know. Ahem. Anyway, for us Brits, we had four teams from these isles who qualified for the tournament (Scotland didn’t qualify): England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, so those not too nationalistic were spoilt for choice really. I have mostly Irish and some Welsh ancestry, but am also English born, so I could happily support all four teams, in a sliding scale. When England was knocked out, and the Irish teams weren’t doing so well, I decided to support the Wales national team, and fair play to them, they did really well. One of their secret weapons is the world’s most expensive footballer and one of the most talented and exciting to his credit, Gareth Bale, who plays for Real Madrid in Spain usually. He is a really exciting player, and helped push the Welsh national team to the semi finals, only getting stopped in their tracks by a 2-0 defeat to Portugal. But it was a great run whilst it lasted. When asked how they got so far, their manager Chris Coleman said he told his team “don’t be afraid to fail!” which I think was utter genius. It turns conventional wisdom on its head, because we are usually afraid to reach out for something simply because we think we will fail. I have spent times in my life being like that. Now, I am not afraid of failure or desperate for success either, because they are in some senses more a state of mind than a particular situation. No person a complete failure, and no person is a complete success either, we can just fail or succeed at something we do or something we want to achieve. I am of the firm belief that sticking it out, seeing something out to the end and seeing whatever we pursue as something to be pursued in the long term is where we find the best of life and the best of ourselves, too. The short term is where we all lose, in the end. Just look at our ultra capitalist globalised world economy to see what I mean. Do I really need to say more?

Being afraid to fail? Don’t be. In the world, the biggest failure was Jesus Christ, who went to a lonely death, deserted by His followers and He even asked God if it was possible not to face the painful, brutal and completely unjust death He faced, knowing it was not possible. In fact, He wasn’t an ignominious failure, but the greatest success story we have ever known. In the world, success is being cool, having money, being handsome or attractive, having everything going well for you. In God’s economy, success can be something completely different, and what the world sees as failure God may see as something else. All we do as individuals, whatever incredible things the most incredible and successful people in the world do and have ever done, whatever wealth the richest person has amassed, whatever amazing fame or success any individual or group of people have achieved, is just a drop in the ocean to God’s Creation. It is also, in the end, or often can be, an empty experience where the joy fades away and then the desire to find something else to fill the void that can appear.


Jesus was successful because He came to serve. Most of us do things for selfish reasons. Just ask yourself what is your idea of success, and then what is God’s idea of success?

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.’ (Thessalonians 5:18) 

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Time To Make.... a ...... DECISION??

Are you double minded? Wavering between two opinions, or indeed wavering between two lifestyles?


5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. 6 But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; 8 he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.’ (James 1:5-8)


How many of us compartmentalise our Christian faith? How many of us are different with one group of people, as we were with another? How many of us change our personality, our accents, our whole persona depending on the person we are with? How many of us really live out our Christian faith everywhere we go, regardless of who is around us, and in an open and honest, even innocent way?


My friend told me recently that he read that most of us are only truly ourselves for 15 minutes a day, the rest of the time we hide behind carefully cultivated ‘masks’ that we present to the world, of how we wish to be seen and perceived by others. I understand this only too well. I struggled with being me, I would rather have been anyone else but me at one time. It’s probably why I am good at doing accents, and can play convincingly another kind of person when I need to. I’d make a good actor! Possibly. But what I see now is that hiding behind various masks, being different with different people, becomes wearisome, becomes tedious and ultimately just cannot be the abundant life God wants for us. It doesn’t make me happy anyway.


I find now, that what makes me happy is simply living out my faith in a practical and reasonable fashion, and just being me. Not trying to be cool, not trying to be smart, not trying to be ‘Mr Popular’ or anything like that, just me being me, no more no less. I’m beginning to like me, and I want other people to like me, too, because God evidently does. Isn’t that a kind of freedom, not having to put on airs and graces with other people, or with God either?


What Decision?

The decision to live completely for Jesus, right now, whatever you are doing, wherever you live, whatever circumstances God has placed you in. If you know God has a call on your life, then you need to get completely in step with His will so you can begin to find out the plan He has for your life. The closer I have got to God, the more I realise how sick, unjust, disturbed and deeply unbalanced this world is. You don’t think so? Still have illusions about how nice and fair, how balanced and generally good the world is?


15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him...’ (1 John 2:15)


We are in the world, brothers and sisters, but we are not to be a part of the world, but set apart from it, its practises, morality, passing fads and fancies and the horrendous double standards that exist everywhere. We are set apart from other people, not above them, not falsely humble and below them, set apart. Whatever those in the world do or don’t do, we are to live out God’s will for our lives. You don’t know God’s will for your life? Ah, we have a problem...