The Difference Between Success and Failure

The Difference Between Success and Failure


When Thomas Edison perfected the light bulb he was criticized for the number of times he failed in the process. In response, he said, “I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work.”  He persisted in his efforts and in the end he was successful.

Have you ever spoke with an individual who seemed to think the entire world was against them? Their ministry isn’t flourishing and they have found the reason: They’ve never been given the full support of their pastor…they’ve never been given enough money to run their programs…they parents of their church won’t help out…kids don’t come every week…the planet spins in the wrong direction! These people can produce a litany of reasons why they are unsuccessful. And at the core of their thinking is: I am a victim.

In ministry the reality is the grass on the other side of the fence is still just grass. Jim Wideman often quotes a mentor of his when talking about church problems. Essentially the thought is  – every church has problems, you’ve just got to decide which set of problems you want to spend your life working on.

We can all rest assured – every children’s ministry needs two more volunteers; every children’s ministry needs more money; every children’s ministry needs more space; every children’s ministry has problems. A big church is not necessarily better than a small church – often the problems and challenges are just amplified. As an example, this last week, due to the economic issues in the country, I had to go through and trim my budget – I trimmed more money out of my budget this week than I had in my budget at my first two churches!

Success is not driven by being handed a golden spoon; honestly canned beets taste bad on any spoon! Success is driven by how we handle the problems and opportunities we face. In his book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell profiles several individuals. Bill Gates in one of them. Gates is well known to us all. Gates success was not due just to his brilliance. Gates success was also attributed to the opportunities he made the most of in life. No one could have made Gates learn how to program at a young age, no one could have made him spend hours studying computers—he had to do that on his own.

In Kidmin Leadership, by Jim Wideman and the Infuse 1 group, I have a chapter about Self-leadership. Self-leadership, to me, is the key to success. Just as no one could give Gates the drive to succeed, no one could make Edison persevere enough to be successful. No one can make you successful. You success in ministry will be dictated by your personal ability to make the most of the opportunities presented to you and your ability to learn how to lead yourself. If a pastor, boss, or supervisor has to stand behind you with a whip to get you moving – then you may need to reevaluate if you are learning how to be your own motivator.

In closing, consider how King David handled his own discouragement. He and his men return from battle to find all they hold dear carried off and destroyed. How did David respond? “…David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.” (1 Samuel 30:6) Learn to encourage yourself in the Lord; learn to lead yourself; learn to take opportunities and turn them into successes. Blessing will follow.

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