The Failure of Success

sad successThere are a countless number of people in the world today who are driven by the quest to obtain success! They dedicate all of their mental, spiritual and physical energy to the task of obtaining material success. Now while the apprehension of success has been touted to be a worthwhile endeavor, most who sincerely engage in the quest usually are disappointed in the end. They are disappointed, not because they fail to achieve a measurable amount of success, but rather because they do indeed become successful! Now you may ask: “Why would anyone who achieves success be disappointed?” Well, they are disappointed because they discover that success is not all that it has been reported to be! The person, who makes the achievement of success the ultimate goal and reaches it, discovers the failure of success!

What is the failure of success? The failure of success is in the fact that success was not designed to be the end or the goal of life! In the New Testament, Jesus put it this way when he asked the question: “What does it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his soul?” Now the traditional interpretation of the question is that Jesus was asking what good is it for a person to gain all of the material success in life and then die and go to Hell. But I think there was more to that question than just the eschatological interpretation we have traditionally given it! Jesus could have also been asking: “What good is it if a person is successful but loses themselves in the process?” Jesus knew that success, as we commonly define it, was a failure! That is why he replied to the man who asked him to settle a property dispute he was having with his brother: “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses!” Jesus already knew what many spend a lifetime to discover: Success does not satisfy!

But why is success a failure and why doesn’t success satisfy? Success is a failure and it doesn’t satisfy because we weren’t made just for success; we were made for significance! The ultimate purpose of our sojourn upon the earth is not to accumulate; but rather to contribute! Not to gain, but to give! The ultimate goal is not how much we can count, but rather in how much we count! Success is a failure because the real goal is not to make a living; but rather to make a life! And how do you make a life? You make a life by making your life count! And you make your life count by making a positive and lasting impact in the lives of those around you and even in the lives of generations to come!

People today are frantically engaged in the pursuit of success, but what they really want is significance! People just want to matter!  People just want to make a difference! Now if you make a positive difference in the lives of others by being successful, then that’s good! But if your success only benefits you and yours, then your success is really a failure! For in the end, the measure of a man’s life will not be in how successful he was, but rather in how much of a difference he made! Not in how much he gained; but rather in how much he gave! Not in his success; but rather in his significance!

Defeated by Default

batterHave you ever watched a baseball game and noticed how many times a batter is retired by called-strikes? A called-strike occurs when the pitcher throws the ball within the strike-zone, but the batter refuses to swing at it! I have watched games in which some batters watched three good pitches go by without ever attempting to lift the bat from their shoulders! Now I know that, in the game of baseball, the batter is trained to wait for certain pitches. But it seems to be a shame to me that, all too often, the batter is defeated by default while he is waiting on the “right” pitch!

Well, many people live their lives in the same manner! They are constantly defeated by default! Some times it is because they have had so many failures in the past that the desire to compete is no longer present. They are like the blues singer I heard singing, he moaned: “I’ve been down so long that getting up don’t even cross my mind!” Some times they are just waiting for the “right pitch” (the perfect opportunity) and are afraid to swing at something they are not completely sure of. But whatever the case, they allow many of life’s opportunities to past them by without even making an attempt! So many times success would be a real possibility, if they only took a swing at it! But, they are held captive by their past casualties and/or are fooled by the false belief that everything must be exactly just right before they give it a try! They are waiting for all the traffic lights to turn green before they pull out of the driveway!

But my friend, no matter how many times you have been to the plate of life and struck out, I want to encourage you to give it another try! You might surprise yourself with a hit! By the way, in the game of baseball, did you know that if you are a .300 hitter, you are considered to be good? Just think about that for a moment! A good hitter in baseball only gets about three (3) hits out of ten! The best hitters in baseball miss the ball more times than they hit it! Babe Ruth once held the record for the most hits and home-runs, but he also held the record for the most strike-outs! Life will throw you some curves and many times you will strike out! In fact, more than likely, you will taste defeat more often than you taste victory. But, defeat is not really defeat if you learn something from the experience. Don’t let your defeats intimidate you to the point that you stop trying! Keep swinging the bat! Weight your options; calculate the risks and rewards. Then, when the pitch (the opportunity) comes; give it a swing! You may strike out, but at least you would have given it a try! If you keep swinging long enough and hard enough, sooner or later, you are bound to get a hit and it might even be a home run! But you will never know, if you never lift the bat from your shoulders! You will never get a hit if you never take a swing! And those who never swing at the ball or take risks in life always end up defeated by default!