Long ago at the University of Houston, a Professor named Dr. Matson taught a class in the Business Department entitled Failure 101. The curriculum involved building a marketing strategy to promote products like hamster hot tubs, kites to fly in hurricanes, and other ridiculous products. The professor expected each to fail miserably, and the students soon discovered the process of dealing with the failure, learning from it and initiating actual successes. A local newspaper did an article on the class and the professor’s unique approach to teaching entrepreneurship. The journalist wrote, “The ideas were ridiculous and stupid, but once Matson’s students equated failure with innovation instead of defeat, they felt free to try anything.”
I think we all would have benefited from Professor Matson’s course, especially when the program we started only lasted three months. Or when no one showed up for the inner city outreach, and your last fundraiser sent you further in debt than when you started. The list of our youth ministry failures may be endless. Your experiences might have been different, but I know we all go through the same emotions. At some point we have all felt like we were dying a little on the inside, but I beg you not to allow the lies in your head to convince you that you are a failure. Innovation and wisdom always lie on the other side of experience if you choose to not let it get you down.
As you walk, I pray you learn that the treasure lies in the journey, not the destination. Andrew Carnegie believed the average person puts only twenty-five percent of his energy and ability into his work, but he says, “The world stands on its head for those few and far between souls who devote a hundred percent to something.” Through the years, I laugh at the unending times I failed, yet by the grace of God I will live knowing each time I approach the next endeavor I gave it one hundred and one percent. And I know from years and years of experience, people will jump on a ship going full speed ahead, much quicker than one harboring in the dock. When was the last time you stopped to see who is jumping on your ship? Who’s standing on their head for you?