Finding the Fruit in Your Failures

Mary James_Finding the Fruit In Your Failures_Shutterstock image used by permission_final

 

“Perfect love casts out all fear, but it is only God’s love that is truly perfect.”

 

I’ve worked hard at my craft over the years, but those moments still come along that make me want to cringe: a slightly pitchy note, misspelled word, bad wardrobe choice, an incomplete thought or point.

This is completely normal, but it seems like the biggest bloopers occur when I am in front of the largest crowds. Anyone else? I suppose that is why public speaking and singing is such a huge fear for most people. It comes with great risk to the ego. 

I had an experience recently where “it” happened again…the blooper…well, bloopers actually.

If it was “American Idol,” it would have been my final week.

Every ounce of me wanted to deliver my songs with the utmost of excellence, but it just didn’t happen. From my perspective, I let the people down who trusted me with the task.

Can any good come out of the moments in our lives or careers when we feel like nothing more than a failure? I believe so, if we are willing to wait on God before deciding we have run our last race.

Over the last 15 years of ministry, there have been times when I over promised and under delivered—and vice versa. Each experience provided an opportunity to learn from the One who made my appointments in the first place.

The internal and external critics can be deafening, but God always has the final say.

It’s probably a little different for everyone, but there are several valuable truths that have helped me rise above the inner critic and the competitive nature of society.   

1. Take responsibility.

No one has more skin in the game than you do, so ultimately you must take full responsibility for your own growth or professional development. Whether it’s a blog, a book or a performance that falls flat, the question should always be, “What can I do to improve my craft when the next assignment comes along?”

The comforting part is, if what you are engaged in is God’s will for your life, there will be another assignment. Watch, listen, and critique your efforts so you can become the best edition of yourself you can be.

2. Ask, “Is my name on it?”

Though I “bloopered” that public performance and understand how to do a better job next time, it was not exactly in line with my ministry passion. Yet by walking through that door, I was able to see (once again) that not everything is a fit. And that is OK.

I heard Christine Caine say recently, “I’ve reached a point where I don’t want to do anything that doesn’t have my name on it.” How true it is. This is where I need to be comfortable saying “no” from time to time.

3. Keep your eyes upon the Father.

As I went forward to sing for the final time at the event—while blushing and fearful of messing up again—I suddenly got this picture of my heavenly Father calling me over to Him and saying,

“Mary, come near. Sit on my knee and please sing me that lovely song once more. I love to hear that voice I gave you.” 

It occurred to me, perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18), but it is only His love that is truly perfect.

If I take my eyes off the Lord and look to others for approval, it’s astonishing how quickly I can enter a place of fear. It is no surprise how quickly one can sink.

Yet, to the Lord, my song was sweet and imperfect and beautiful.  Within my error and anxiety, He showed me what perfect love looks like.

No experience or endeavor is one-dimensional. There is much to be given, learned and received at every opportunity.

We need to grow, seek excellence, and make choices that align with our giftings, but I will say this: after 15 years of working hard, honing my craft, struggling with confidence and praying that God would bring forth a harvest from my branches, the gift (understanding) I received through that picture (visual) of me of sitting on my Father’s knee—singing to Him—is what I would deem the greatest of successes. Nothing earned, just a gentle and victorious reminder of His grace and unmerited favor.

It’s a profound truth that if practiced will allow me to take a deep breath and simply enjoy the music.

Remember, well-formed love—God’s love—will cast out all our fears.

The fruit of our labor is not always found in how we impact others, but in how God is growing us so that we can most effectively draw others to His knee.

Failures, though never welcome, can be the very thing God uses to remind us of what matters most to Him.

Have you taken your eyes off of Him Beloved? I trust He is waiting to hear your beautiful song as well.

Originally Published on Dawn Wilson’s “Upgrade With Dawn”  July 21, 2015. 

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