Learning to Fail Significantly

For more than a decade, Jackie has been devoted to making her salon in Union City a success. But recently, she turned the lights out and locked up for the last time. After all of those years doing her best to attract and keep clients and care for her staff, she was walking away from the business she had built from the ground up.

“All I could think was, my God, what a failure. I’m letting everyone down — my family, my clients, my staff, myself – everyone,” said Jackie.

At the same time, Jackie was stepping down after two years of leading a dinner group. And that felt like failure too, like she was letting down the women in her group and even her church.

“I was afraid that people would think I couldn’t handle it,” said Jackie. “That they would think that I hadn’t meant the commitment I had made, that the responsibility was just too much for me.”

Jackie was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer last year, and between the surgeries and treatments, she knew something had to give. But even after stepping away from her business and her dinner group role, she couldn’t shake the feeling that letting go had meant letting people down.

Then a few weeks ago, in the midst of the Legacy series, her outlook on failure changed. As Pastor Chris explained, we all fall into the trap of thinking we can be everything to everyone. There are so many different competing demands on our time and energy, so many different roles we’re expected to fill and not a lot of margin for half measures. But in order to live lives of significance, we have to intentionally choose to sometimes, maybe quite often, fail at what the world says is important. When the Good Samaritan spent two days caring for the stranger he found on the road, he was letting down someone, or failing at something in Jericho, while the priest and temple assistant were able to keep all of their commitments.

Jackie said that since she has let herself fail when it comes to her business and stepping away from a commitment to lead, she feels released. She’s found nothing but love, support and encouragement from her dinner group. And most importantly, she has more time for her family and the One who loves her most.

“This cancer has been a life-saving grace by God. There’s so much more for me to do,” said Jackie. “I know I’m moving on to something significant — something that won’t fail. So I’m okay with failing at all the other things.”

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