Wednesday, May 28, 2008

finding freedom in failure

Rarely do I get excited about what I can't do. Most often, I'm in pursuit of success, not failure. But, I'm learning to let go of who I'm not in order to be who I am.

Take, for example, a recent email I received from my friend Kevin. He attends Pantego Bible Church and is a great graphic designer [we have several in our church]. It so happens that I'm a graphic designer too...20 years ago. It's what I studied in college, much before computers were invented and magazines were still made ready for press on drafting boards with T-squares. I still dabble in design and, a week ago, I created a new bulletin design for an upcoming summer sermon series on the life of King David. Then, I zipped the file off to Kevin and invited him to take a stab at the same subject. What he sent back was over-the-top superior. Not only that, he sent four separate designs. And, what took me hours probably took him minutes.

He has it and I don't.

I remember that I first felt this loss several years after I picked up guitar. Like most leaders in student ministry, I felt the lure of learning five basic chords which would qualify me to play every song in the Young Life song book. I purchased my own guitar, led worship [I use that term very loosely] and even wrote a song...which no one will ever hear. One Spring Break, while on a mission trip to Ciudad Victoria, Mexico, I met a pastor who was very gifted on the guitar. The problem is that the neck of his overly-strummed instrument was cracked and the fellow had the thing held together with duct tape. Near the end of our trip, I was hammering out my five chords when God said, "Give it up." I joke to myself that the Almighty feared I might bring my worship leading into heaven one day, throwing the whole angelic host into utter chaos. But, God was more specific. I gave my guitar to the pastor before we left and gave it up for good. That day, I died to the possibility that I might play well. And, to be honest, I fought that failure.

I still do sometimes. But, God is teaching me that letting go is an important step to moving on. It's a little like lightening your load for the journey. To be best at what God has called us to, we must jettison the myriad of other things which can be distracting, time-killers, or obstacles in the way [see previous post]. I'm not talking about giving up things where we are mediocre [few of us would own golf clubs] or never having a new interest which we can develop. I'm talking about shutting the door to old dreams that get in the way of new vision. It's understanding what I'm made for, how I am designed, what are my gifts, what I do well. It's also about affirming the uniqueness of each part of the Body of Christ--allowing better designers and more gifted worship leaders to step forward and do what they're fitted to do. I'm discovering that, when I finally embrace my failure, I can truly move on in freedom. The letting go really does release me to move forward.

1 comment:

Lewis said...

"I'm talking about shutting the door to old dreams that get in the way of new vision....The letting go really does release me to move forward."

I experienced this very thing a few years back. It's heartwarming to find others who go through the same "stuff" and know I'm not alone in the experience.

I had to let go of a 25-year dream. I gave it a shot, it didn't work out, and how it hurt to see it crash and burn with the reality that God had not ordained that direction for me. I can still enjoy my mediocrity as a hobby (your golf analogy is most apt) while focusing on the things God has *definitely* asked of me. Perhaps as I continue to grow I will do them well.