I read a story the other day on Dan Miller’s Blog that really spoke to me. That same day, a friend of mine (Aaron Walker) promoted the launch of his new book “A View From the Top.” Combined, the messages of these two men drove home a very important truth:

Failure is NOT a destination, it’s just part of the journey!

Failures Don’t Define Who You Are

In the post from Mr. Miller (author of the books 48 Days to the Work You Love and other great books), he points out the failures of several men  of note. For instance:

Albert Einstein couldn’t speak until he was age 4

Michael Jordan got cut from his high school basketball team

Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper job because he had no good ideas

There are plenty more examples in Mr. MIller’s post.  But, it’s very encouraging and inspiring to me that each of these people are known for their successes in life. None of those failures defined who these men were!

Aaron Walker is another great mentor of mine. As I mentioned in the first paragraph, Aaron has just launched the sale of his new book “A View From the Top.”

Aaron’s story is one of huge life successes. But, the punctuation of his life could have been a drumbeat of failure. Aaron accidentally ran over a man and killed him in a traffic accident. He was treated badly by a fellow church member in a business deal and, at one time, thought about shooting the man on a hunting trip.

But, just like Einstien, Jordan and many, many others, Aaron didn’t let the deep, dark crevices of life define who he is. He didn’t stay in the doldrums of life.

Recently, this is what I posted on Facebook about Aaron:

Do you know how to get to the top of a mountain? You find someone who’s done it before and follow them. My friend (and one of my mentors) Aaron Walker, is a Christian I respect for his faith in action. He’s a grandfather and father with excellent progeny. And, he’s a successful businessman. Three things I seek to become myself.

If you want to live at the apex of your family life, business life and spiritual live, I recommend that you check out his new book #ViewFromTheTop

And, listen, Aaron’s been in some deep, dark crevices along the way, too. You’ll see some high highs and some low lows. And you’ll be reminded to never give up!

GREAT GUY so I know it’s gonna be a GREAT BOOK!

Both Dan Miller, in his blog post and Aaron Walker, in his life story, are quick to point out the fact that failure is just part of the journey… it’s not the destination.

Failure doesn’t have to define who you are… it didn’t for any of the famous men Miller writes about in his blog post. And, it didn’t for my friend Aaron. That truth is clearly evident in “Big A”s life… in his message… and in his passion.

FAILURE IS JUST A “TEACHABLE MOMENT”

When I was a teacher, at Calvary Christian School in Meridian, MS, and Greenville Christian School in Greenville, MS, we faced failure almost daily.

Both schools struggled to remain open. As a matter of fact, Calvary Christian is now defunct. Calvary was so small that we couldn’t dress out a football team. So, I encouraged the headmaster there to appeal to the school association to establish a 7-man football league. They did. Calvary ended up becoming 7-man champions in short fashion after the league began.

Instead of letting their size define who they were, they found a way to reposition themselves — and succeeded. Later on, the sponsoring church lost a vision for the school’s ministry and mission. And, they allowed their failures to become their destination instead of learning that lesson.

Greenville Christian, however, had been a successful school in the past. My first tour of the campus was a beautiful experience. The baseball field was the jewel of the campus inn 2007, when I arrived there.

The school was struggling at the time, however. None of the sports teams were doing all that well. The academics was suffering. The enrollment was stagnant, if not declining. And, a new church had adopted the school to try to help it out of it’s doldrums.

Yet, the school still struggled.

The church (Emmanuel Baptist, at the time) tried to infuse new leadership into the campus, with a new vision. The changes weren’t accepted completely by the staff and faculty, and it continued to struggle.

Then, years later, after Emmanuel lost their pastoral leadership, another church in nearby Washington, MS adopted the church and tried to change the mission of the school. They further infused the campus with a new vision by planting a new church on the campus.

And, while the school continues (as most small private Christian schools do in the south  – due to cost of living issues) to struggle, it is also finding it’s shares of success, as well. That’s because the school leadership finally found a way to redefine success.

Both schools learned lessons from failures to move them forward. But, one of the schools forgot the lessons and eventually gave up.

PERSONAL “TEACHABLE MOMENTS”

In my personal life, there have been many “teachable moments.” Some of those moments were rejected at the time. Some of them, I freely accepted the lessons from what many call “the school of hard knocks.”

Even at this point in my life, with many successes, I find it difficult to deal with what many (myself included) would call failures. Sometimes, I just let those moments become destinations instead of just parts of the journey.

At the time I’m writing this, I pastor a small, struggling, and dying church. For two years I have put most of my effort, energy, and creativity into trying to rescue this church. It’s not been an easy journey.

And, to many (myself included some days), I’ve failed in this mission.

The church continues to struggle. They have yet to find a vision for it’s future. And, as one wise member of the church calmly reminded me the other day, “even churches have lifespans, Brother Phil.”

Another “teachable moment” occurred that day. I was doing everything I could possibly do to fight for life, when (as a former hospice chaplain, I recognized this struggle well after the comment), it may have just been time to prepare for the next transition! Today, the church leadership is seeking to discover what that next phase of ministry in their community will be and how we can leave a legacy for that ministry.

Magnifying glass on the word Redefine and related terms such as revise, redo, revisit, review, reposition, rethink, reconsider, reinvent, remodel and reevaluate

We have redefined success (from a struggle to a legacy) and, we’re looking for ways to reposition our ministry. We’re even looking for a Hispanic missionary in the region who might need a facility to use and help establish their ministry.

So, here’s the questions for you fellow fail-ers out there:

  1. Are you evaluating your journey?
  2. How can you redefine success in your journey?
  3. How might you be able to reposition your work/life for success?
  4. Have you given up? Or are you working toward a vision for your life?
  5. How can I help you figure out what the next phase of your journey will be?