Success and failure are the same event …

Paul’s lesson on perspective.

by Patrick G Howard

Philippians 3:13-14 – But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Our focus this month comes from Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

Wouldn’t you love to get one of Paul’s letters in the mail? They are always addressed to real people who are dealing with real problems. They are a great balance of practical instruction and motivational speech. And even though he wrote these letters almost 2,000 years ago, they are just as relevant today as they were then.

When you read Paul’s letters, you will always find the practical things, such as love one another … don’t be selfish … be humble. But when we read our focus for this month (verses 13-14), Paul shares his humility with the Philippians. Paul tells them that he is not perfect, but then he goes on to say something a little unexpected. Paul tells the Philippians that, instead of re-living the mistakes of their past, they should change their perspective and look forward toward the goal.

Now granted, the prize that Paul is speaking of is our eternal reward in Heaven. However, I think this lesson can also be applied to our everyday lives.  I am reminded of a famous Michael Jordan quote:

I missed over 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost over 300 games. I’ve failed over and over in my life, and that is why I succeed.

I think Paul would have enjoyed Michael Jordan. To be sure, Michael could have used the experience of being cut from his high school varsity basketball team to give up and try something else. (Or give up altogether.) Instead, he used that failure as motivation to become (arguably) the best player to ever lace up in the NBA. Michael was able to put his high school failure into perspective and use it to propel himself, not to just success, but to greatness.

How many times have you failed at something?

If you’re like me, you have failed so many times that you feel like Humpty Dumpty after he fell off the wall. But unlike Mr. Dumpty, who only had all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put him back together again, we have the power of perspective to move forward to success. There are many times in history when, with a little perspective, a person has turned failure into something great. Consider these quotes:

I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. ~ Thomas A Edison

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. ~ Henry Ford

It’s fine to celebrate success, but it is more important to heed the lessons of failure. ~ Bill Gates

I think and think for months and years. Ninety-nine times, the conclusion is false. The hundredth time I am right. ~ Albert Einstein

The point is this; we can and should view our failures through the lens of perspective. You see, a successful person and an unsuccessful person are looking at the same world and events, but they see it through their own lens. A person with a negative attitude will see a difficulty and expect defeat and failure, where a person with a positive attitude will see the same challenge as an opportunity for success. It really is all a matter of perspective.

So …

The next time something doesn’t go as planned … when you lose that big sale to a competitor … when that big purchase you made turns out to be a really bad decision … when you miss the next CBFA meeting because life got in the way … focus on Paul’s letter to the Philippians and look forward toward the goal by putting your failures into perspective.