Spilled Salt: Fail

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By Adam Van Dop

Back in grade 10, oh so long ago, I bought a bike. It was a nice bike, I was quite proud of it, and I rode it literally everywhere I had to go. My friend and I would put on a hundred kilometres (60 miles for you south of the border) in a day, just getting around. I took great care of that bike, it was always clean, the chain always oiled, and tires pumped. When I got my drivers licence, a couple months into grade 11, I pretty much forgot I even had a bike. One time, when I remembered I had it, I remembered its value, and proceeded to take it to the nearest sports traders’ store. A week or so later, I had the cash. A few years later, I realized I regretted that sale, but realized it could not be reversed.

Last year, I decided with the extra money I had earned and received for my birthday that I would buy a new bike, and like before, I would ride it everywhere (at least thats what I thought). In this process of me trying to explain to my wife that I wanted to make this purchase – I rode around my brother-in-laws alleys with his new bike, while my wife had my video camera.

What became of that experience can only be shown, not explained. So you’ll have go HERE:
 Adam Van Dop falling off his bike!

I’ve been thinking lately about failing. Not that I am failing at doing my job, or life, or anything for that matter (that I know of anyways). I think I started to think about it on my recent holidays with my in-law family. It was a conversation that came up about “being able to do anything you want to do” which lead to me thinking about how I got to where I am, and not being able to do everything that I wanted to do.

Paul talks about gifts in Romans, and how they make up the entire body of Christ, each being an integral part (for more on being integral parts, have a read of Sidelines: On Being A Big Toe, especially if you’re a youth pastor, or youth pastors spouse.) There is also this balance that is created; each function is filled by someone with differing gifts and abilities – given to them by God.

Romans 12:3-8
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; 7 if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; 8 the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

These gifts are freely given, they have no cost, the only thing we owe to God – is that we use and develop these gifts to the best of our abilities, striving to act with them more and more.

But – there’s a problem: the self-discovery of gifts.
This is what I like to call “failing forward.”

I look back to how I came to be where I am:
- In all my math and math-like course through high school, I found that math was not forte. Even my very insightful physics 11 teacher told me not to continue to take physics 12. She recognized my limitations. As a result, I found that a career as an Engineer of any sort, or a career working for NASA was completely out.
- In my band class, I was a drummer. Drumming, myself, and my teacher did not get along – at all. My career as a professional drummer was out.
- In my first year of Bible College, in the music program, I discovered that learning piano was not one of my gifts, so my beloved teacher encouraged me to keep playing bass and to move into the direction of pastoral ministry.

In each attempt, and fail, I had tried, perhaps not the hardest – but an effort nonetheless. As I was looking for my gifts, and each time that I failed, I got that much closer to discovering who I really am and what my gifts really are – I was moving forward though failing.

There are other things I have learned about myself during this same process:
- I extremely enjoy studying the Bible and sharing my findings with others.
- My heart breaks for the youth, and where their hearts are at.
- I long to see others make right, Godly decisions in their life.
So in my work as a Youth Pastor – I get to work with those gifts, gifts that I’ve found out about myself through failure of other things, and then I get the privilege to act in my gifts, alongside others on staff here doing the same thing, as well as working with volunteers who fill the holes where my gifts lack.

Often times we are so afraid of failure. I guess what I’ve found out over time is that failure is almost a necessary step to success.

When I worked in framing, I always said, “If you don’t bleed at least once during the day, you’re not working hard enough.”

When I am skiing, I have said, “If you’re not falling, you’re not pushing your self enough.”

If you watched that video, you will have seen my failure in a trick on a bike. I learnt something while landing on my back: that I gave to much power in too low of a gear. Next time, I adjusted, and was a little more successful. And each time after that, adjustments were made, sometimes failing – but moving forward each time.

In regards to being a particle of Spilled Salt, I think our reactions to failure are quite important, as others watch. So as you approach life, and as you try and fail – may you see that those failures are apart of your success – helping you grow and understand more clearly who you are and who God has called you to become.

So may the Lord bless you through your failures, and may He give you the wisdom and understanding as you need it.

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