“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but rather of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” – Francis Chan
I have failed as a missionary, and in fact, everyday I continue to fail. Everyday I fail in communication where I am not understood or I do not understand the Swahili that is being spoken to me. Everyday I fail to be the perfect reflection of Jesus or Joy because of the fatigue and constant challenges of living in a foreign world with foreign people and the frustrations that often brings to each new day. Every single day I fail. Would it be odd if I said that brings me great joy?
This quote by Francis Chan has stuck in my brain ever since I read it four or so years ago. I think it has taken me four or so years to completely understand it, but I think I get it. In a culture like America, we praise success and doing great things and we hide failure or weakness because our culture views it as a big deficit. But I think that this fear is keeping us living small and safe just like the enemy would want. I think this fear is keeping us far too busy succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.
My greatest fear is of succeeding. Truly. My greatest fear is of succeeding in the American Dream, even though it’s tempting. My greatest fear is to be born to just pay bills and die. My greatest fear is living until 80 but my soul dying at age 30.
I think we are called to a bigger life. I think we are called to pursue failure. Without tasting failure, how will we ever know our limitations? If we are not failing, perhaps we are living safely small. Or perhaps a more tragic fear, perhaps we are succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.
“It would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite job is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” C.S. Lewis
Are you successful, or, are you living big enough to fail?
Amani Primary School; where you can find me on the daily!