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Being a Loser and the Freedom to Fail
After accepting a CEO position at a non-profit, in which he could make or break the organization’s future, he said, “I believe that one of the great comforts of the gospel is the freedom to fail.” I heard this echoed recently by a friend when he made a somewhat risky vocational decision. Though he struggles with the opinions of others, he was able to say: “the worst I can do is fail.” He smiled as he said it, and I rejoiced in his spiritual maturity, which clearly surpasses my own.
What is it? What failure are you upset about? (“My whole life” doesn’t count. Be more specific).
What are you really saying? Is it something like this: “People think I’m a jerk!” “I have made life more difficult for my family.” “I expected more of myself.”
Anything you need to confess? There is probably no obvious sin if the matter is not a moral failure, but we can always confess our over-interest in personal reputation.
Then listen to Scripture. You’ll find a number of divine responses. Here are just two.
The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. (James 1:9-10)
Consider how you, as a brother in humble circumstances, have been singled out from the beginning of time to belong to God and, as you throw your lot in with Jesus, you have all of Christ’s inheritance. Your stature, indeed, is quite high.
I appreciate those words, and sometimes they are helpful, but I find more comfort— and some humor—in these:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Cor.1:26-29)
God loves losers
In other words, God loves losers. He is the one who chooses us to be part of his team. This way we can’t boast that our stellar reputation is a result of our fine work and amazing talents.
The freedom we have in Christ has a few different facets. One is that we are not judged by the world’s standards of success and failure. Instead, we have the freedom to be human, which means that when we fail, and we will everyday, we know that Jesus is the head of this new world order, not us, and we hope to one day realize that there are more important matters, such as boasting in what Jesus has done.
For more on this topic, you might like to read: Shame Interrupted: How God Lifts the Pain of Worthlessness and Rejection
Or listen to a sample of the annotated audio experience of Shame Interrupted with the author, Ed Welch.
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