Failure is an Option

Failure is one of those topics that we don’t like to talk about. We would never consider planning for it, whether or not we believe the adage “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” But failure is part of the human ethos, and understanding how and why we fail is important if we are to learn how not to fail. And how much more should we understand what can bring about the ultimate failure – the failure of a human life?

Most people think of moral failure in terms of explicit actions like lying, stealing, murder and greed, among others. They’ll pick and choose from lists such as the ten commandments, the seven deadly sins and the like. Steer clear of committing evil and your a “good person”. Jesus would likely say “Not so fast!”…

Let’s take the story of the ruler who takes a long trip and leaves his finances in the hands of three investment managers. Two succeed to different degrees and are rewarded accordingly. We join the story with the explanation from the third investment manager:

“The next servant said, ‘Master, here’s your money safe and sound. I kept it hidden in the cellar. To tell you the truth, I was a little afraid. I know you have high standards and hate sloppiness, and don’t suffer fools gladly.’

“He said, ‘You’re right that I don’t suffer fools gladly – and you’ve acted the fool! Why didn’t you at least invest the money in securities so I would have gotten a little interest on it?’ Then he said to those standing there, ‘Take the money from him and give it to the servant who doubled my stake.’

“They said, ‘But Master, he already has double…'”

“He said, ‘That’s what I mean. Risk you life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag.’

Luke 19:20-26, The Message

I’ve always wondered how Jesus could be so upset with someone who’s only crime was inaction. M. Scott Peck, M.D. proposed in The Road Less Traveled that laziness formed the basis of the original sin reported in Genesis 3. I’ve come to think that this concept has some merit. Basically, he posited that turning off one’s brain and not thinking about the consequences of one’s actions (or inactions!) constitutes sin.

Related to this, you’ve probably heard the saying, “The opposite of love isn’t hate, but apathy.” This is reinforced by the following scripture:

“I know you inside and out, and find little to my liking. You’re not cold, you’re not hot – far better to be either cold or hot! Your stale. You’re stagnant. You make me want to vomit.”

Revelation 3:15-16, The Message

So, perhaps one way to fail in life might be just to do nothing and not care about it. Consider registering for a college level course for a subject you know nothing about. Don’t bother going to any lectures or doing any studying or homework. Just show up for the midterm and final exams. What do you think your chances are to receive a passing grade?

What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my conclusions? I welcome your comments.

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