Failure is Not….Optional

by Pastor Jason Poling

“But at these words his face fell, and he went away grieved, for he was one who owned much property.” – Mark 10:22

A rich and socially powerful young man once came to Jesus to ask how to inherit eternal life.  You can imagine how this man probably felt about himself.  Confident.  Secure.  Feeling in control of life.  He had done all the right things society said he needed to do to be successful.  By all human accounts, he had been a very good boy.

But he lacked one thing.

He hadn’t been successful enough.  He just didn’t know it until Jesus gently pointed out this glaring failure in his life.  

It was quite painful to hear Jesus’ indictment.  Failure was not an option for this rich, successful, young man.  But Jesus seemed to imply that failure was his only option.  He needed to come clean with the fact that he lacked one thing.  

He failed in the one, most important thing in life:  he never really worshiped God above his money and success.

In reality, our society is not all that different from the society of the rich, young ruler.  We hold out success to our children as the grand prize of life.  Failure is not an option in our world.  And so we push our kids to “make it” in life.  

Some of our kids do.  They are successful by the standards of the world.  So they can’t imagine they lack anything.  They are praised by us and by society, so they assume they should be praised by God.  

But some of our kids don’t “make it.”  They beat themselves up and spiral down into self-destructive behaviors because they feel the weight of a world constantly reminding them of their failure to perform.  

Jesus offers another way to look at life.  It is the only way to look at life.  He says, failure is our only option.  When failure is not an option, we produce kids who are blinded to their true failure before God or who are embittered by their failure.  When we teach Jesus’ way, our children can embrace their failure because it is the only way they will inherit eternal life.  

We need to help our children see that no matter how much success they have in life, they have still sinned against God.  They have still failed to worship Him above all else.  When they can see this true failure, they can experience true freedom.  They are free to humbly give up whatever hope they have in the vain “successes” of the world, and instead, put all their hope in the only One who truly succeeded before God: Jesus Christ.  He alone is the good son.

So rather than vainly trying to be the good son or daughter according to the world’s standards, let’s help our kids make trusting in the good Son the one standard by which they live.  

Imagine if Jesus was their one desire.  Imagine if Jesus was your one desire.  Admitting failure would be your first and only option.  And Christ would be your only hope.

Then Jesus would say to you with joy:  “you lack nothing.”     

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