Failure is better than success in at least two instances:
(1) When success today breeds arrogance that results in bigger failure tomorrow. (This only applies if today’s failure facilitates humility that results in bigger success tomorrow.)
(2) When we succeed at things that don’t matter. It’s better to fail while attempting something worthwhile than to succeed at something ultimately destructive or pointless.
But failure is very scary. It is difficult to believe we’re lovable even when we’re loved, so when we’re not loved it’s nearly impossible. Because we want to be lovable and therefore loved, we fear failure. Sometimes we fear failure so much that we start to fear success, because success sets a standard we might fail to reach next time. Because we fear failure, either we don’t try or we do only what we know we’ll succeed at even if it doesn’t matter.
Leadership is difficult because it requires giving up control. We crave control and try to keep it because we fear what will happen if we let it go. We fear we will fail and failure terrifies us. Fear kills leadership.
I am (sometimes paralyzingly) afraid to fail. I am afraid to fail as a husband, father, pastor, mentor, teacher. I am afraid to fail as a leader. If this fear remains uncrucified, everything I do will be motivated by a desire to be loved/liked/admired/respected/appreciated, and I will render myself incapable of true success.
Perfect love is the precondition for successful leadership.
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NOTE: In light of my 30th birthday and in honor of the guys who have all the fun, I’ll be offering thirty reflections in thirty days starting December 19th. Today’s post is #13 (see the so-far list here). The only rule is that I have 250 words to make my point. After that just stop reading. Thanks for making my blog part of your internet experience.