Resolution or Opportunity for Failure?

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Never have—probably never will. I was pondering this in the shower this morning (I do my best thinking in the shower, which makes it very difficult to jot down anything noteworthy.) I believe in setting goals and staying as organized as possible, so why aren’t New Year’s resolutions a part of my program?

It hit me as I perused my journal for this year—I have a horrible fear of failure. A New Year’s resolution that I may not be able to live up to is just another opportunity for failure. There are a multitude of phobias out in the nether world, but the fear of failure covers so much ground—failure as a wife, a mother, a Christian, a writer, a friend…well, you get the point. This is not in line with my Christian faith, so again, failure!

Charles Stanley wrote this for the December 28th devotional in In Touch magazine, “The Lord’s goal for us is to increase our faith so we can do the work He’s planned for us. If our faith is great, he will entrust us with challenges and achieve amazing things through us. But small faith limits God’s activity in a believer’s life. He uses us only to the degree that we trust Him.” My fear of failure points to a decided lack of trust in God. And with that, how useful can I truly be to Him?

I’m not sure where this fear originated. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been performance-based. Maybe it had to do with being the middle child of five—I found early on that I gained my parents’ attention with academic achievement. Or (I’m ashamed to share) maybe it comes from a deep-seated arrogance or pride.

I’ve been reading the book of Romans over the last week. There are passages that are definite tongue twisters for the mind, but one that rings so true for me is 7:15-19, “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” (NIV)

When I first read this, I thought I don’t have this issue—I mean, I’m not going around doing evil things, so this couldn’t pertain, could it? But then, this is the apostle Paul, a man so on-fire for Jesus, he celebrated every occasion (imprisonment, stoning, beatings, shipwreck) to be persecuted for Him. So if Paul was struggling…well, I needed to rethink this. My fear of failure, my lack of compassion, my self-centered nature…these are daily (dare I say hourly) occurrences! I pray each day for more of God, less of me, and yet my mind is more focused on my concerns than on the concerns of others.

But our God is, thankfully, a God of love and mercy. It may seem like my growth is taken minute step by minute step—but every dinky step forward is still forward. The point is to take it to God every day. If I think I can do it in my own strength, well, my arrogance and pride then become center stage and I’m useless. I pray God will convict me of every selfish thought and action so I can continue to move in a forward direction.

What about you? How do you combat that nasty sin nature that is so prevalent in each of us?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *