One shakes one’s head, with a tut, tut, too bad, so sad, when someone who has excelled in the arena suddenly stumbles and falls. And if one is consumed of schadenfreude, that secret glee at another’s misfortune, one should first repent, because schadenfreude is not a Christian virtue, and then consider the reason for the stumble and learn the lesson thereof. It could simply be that the person had a will to fail.
I read an article many years ago, written by a psychologist, called “Eight Signs of A Will To Fail.” (You may have noticed that that is dangerously close to the title of this article!) I wrote down the eight points, used them on a Wednesday night, and brought the list out on a regular basis for several years. There are a lot of people with a will to fail
Some become successful, aren’t satisfied by success, (because if you’re living by someone else’ definition of success it’s really not success), and consciously or unconsciously begin to act in a way that undermines their success. Others say that they want to succeed, try their best to succeed, but always seem to drop the ball at the wrong time. (There is a reason that I follow neither the Cincinnati Reds, nor the Bengals!) The headlines are filled with the former, we all know plenty of the latter. There are a lot of people with a will to fail.
Understand, I’m not talking about intentional failure. I’ve failed intentional more than a few times. Like the time that the great man of God invited me onto his jet. I had been told that if he invited me onto his jet, and said the right things, he would make my ministry. It was tempting. It could have happened. But my definition of success wasn’t his definition of success, and if I had embraced his definition, denying my definition, my name might be in brighter lights but I would be happy. And happy is one of my definitions for success. I could mention a few other times, but the cast of characters still live, so suffice it to say that living by the beat of one’s own drum will often cause you to fail intentionally. And that kind of failure is not only acceptable, it is healthy. The other kind is not.
Having said all of that, (and have been deliberately wordy, this is a serious piece after all!), let’s look at the eight signs of a will to fail.
1. A LIFE FILLED WITH SECONDARY, SUBSTITUTIONARY, ACTIVITY
Being busy isn’t the same as being productive. Busyness consumes time but produces little. It’s easy to be busy with things that don’t matter. In fact, it’s easier to be busy with things that don’t matter than things that do because the outcome of the former isn’t crucial, but the outcome of the latter usually is.
Secondary, substitutionary, activity is a form of procrastination that replaces what should be done with what could be done. Secondary, substitutionary, procrastination incurs less guilt than run of the run of the mill procrastination because instead of putting off what must be
done with doing nothing, you are doing something that could done while avoiding what should be done.
There are many components to success. A concrete goal. A solid plan. Sufficient resources. Support. But none of these will bring success unless you are able to prioritize your activities, and focus on keeping the primary activities needed to reach your goal, your primary activities. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have secondary activities. It does mean that secondary activities should never be substitutionary activities—keep the main thing, the main thing.
I’ll share the next seven signs of a will to fail “Behind The Door.” I hope that you will join me there. Before you do, let me encourage you to encourage me by sowing a seed into the fertile ground of this ministry. The seed you sow underwrites the cost of this blog, and enables me to do what I’m called to do—helping people like you to experience more of what Jesus called, “life more abundantly.” Hit sowing button knowing that Jesus taught that what you sow into manifests multiplied times into your life. I’ll meet you “Behind The Door.”