I was talking to a friend who needed some advice about his future. He was in a great deal of emotional distress over it, stating if he didn’t “figure it out” soon, he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. Near the end of releasing all his frustrations, he dropped the F-word: “Failure.” He said, “I’m afraid of being a failure.” Watching his shoulders slumped and his face ridden with doubt, my mind could only recall the number of times I had seen this before because it has unfortunately become all too familiar this generation.
If you look up the word failure in the dictionary, you’ll find various breakdowns with definitions and phrases, like “falling short,” “lack of success,” or my personal favorite, “omission of performance.” But for many people, failure is more than just a definition. It’s a pervasive and ever-chasing fear that feels like a lump in your throat. Many young people are held back by fear of failure, or as Webster puts it, a “lack of success,” which is only compounded by things like family pressure, lack of confidence, and lack of vision. This fear stops us from reaching our greatest potential in the four pillars that make up our character: emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical. But for each pillar, we can sometimes pay too much attention to the wrong things. Attention to family’s opinion has become louder than God’s opinion. And often, our self-image is built on social acceptance rather than heavenly validation.
At some point, everyone has been afraid of making a decision or taking a risk that seems too big, but to anyone feeling the cold, clammy hands of fear creeping up on you, my advice is to simply T.R.Y. I can feel the eye roll from here, but bear with me because I don’t mean try in the sense of “make an attempt to do something.” I mean T.R.Y. as an acronym for success during the moments fear keeps you from moving forward.
NEXT STEPS: Young Adult Ministry Training
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.” Ecclesiastes 3:1 is one of the most practical and applicable verses in the bible, and one that leads us to the first letter of the T.R.Y. acronym. People always wonder when it is the right time to begin a new venture. So much so, they get stuck constantly waiting for the “right time” to go after the thing they’ve want to do the most. Such is the state of this “Do I? Or Don’t I?” dance that after the music is over, you’ve completely lost your desire to do what it was that once started you on this choreographed tango of indecision. Now, the popular thing to say is, “There is no time like the present,” and in some contexts, that phrase is perfectly applicable. But not in every case. Most times, the timing of when to start is hard to measure without divine guidance. You see the person who wrote the opening verse of Ecclesiastes 3 was writing at a point in his life where he had been through it all. Solomon, the wisest man in history, had experienced a roller coaster of a life which greatly affected the four pillars of his character.
Emotionally, physically, spiritually, and mentally, Solomon had gone through serious changes. Ups and downs, pitfalls and imperfections, triumphs and tribulations, if anyone understood how crazy life could get, it was Solomon. He understood there was a time for everything, and he understood the key to this timing earlier in his life, as he cited in Proverbs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.”
The key to understanding timing is putting it in the hands of the One who holds time. You need to forget all the thoughts that pervade your mind. Ignore what you know, and simply trust in what He can show.
Any dream worth having needs to have the resilience to survive the wear and tear of doubt. Yes, having a dream is scary. First, let’s make something abundantly clear: there is no such thing as a dream to big or small. Now that we have gotten past that, we need to face up to the reality that having a dream comes with the weight of doubt. Abraham was given a promise and had to wait decades. Moses took 40 years to reach the promised land. David was an outlaw while waiting to become the rightful king. Sometimes your dreams can take longer than expected. “Wait for the Lord and keep his way, and he will exalt you to inherit the land” (Psalm 37:34). Let’s play some word re-arrangement. Instated of “the land,” let’s put “your dream,” then re-read the verse. “He will exalt you to inherit the dream.” David learned a lot from his Robin Hood experiences that made him a better king. Moses made a 40-year resume for a one-way ticket to heaven. Abraham became a father of a great nation. All of these people had to infuse resilience into their quests to see their dreams and promises fulfilled.
Your greatest asset will forever be your youth, which has nothing to do with age. It’s a mindset. Jesus gives us a key when he says, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Children have characteristics we can all learn from, and these characteristics have everything to do with being fearless. Children always want to learn, always want to explore, always to be taught, and always take risks. They don’t fear opinions because they haven’t developed the care for it yet. Chilldren, when learning to walk, don’t care how many times they fall. They want to walk because they know where they’re destined to be — on their two feet. Your greatest asset will always be your ability to mature without becoming mundane, to grow in character but never grow stiff. Take risks, explore, and don’t fear failure because you are destined to succeed with Christ by your side.