Posted tagged ‘failure’

Purpose Above Circumstance

May 26, 2016

by Dr. Steven J. Callis

                Setting aside such logistics as finances, practicality, and suitability, what is that one vehicle that you would be driving today?  I was driving behind a car that might fit your dream, or mine.  It was one of those higher-end automobiles whose sticker price would cause many of us to wince.  What would a car like that do to your insurance premium?  Nevertheless, it was a very nice ride. 

                So I had to chuckle at the bumper sticker it displayed – yes, I thought the same thing: “Who in their right mind would place a bumper sticker on a 6o thousand dollar vehicle!  The message was simple:  “I’d rather be driving a Titleist.”  For those of you who may not know, Titleist is a brand of golf ball.  So apparently, he drives a dream car, and golf drives him.

                If people are passionate enough about a thing to warrant branding their vehicles with bumper stickers, we can learn a lot about them!  “A bad day fishing is better than a good day at work.”  What about those proud parents: “My child is an honor student at …” I saw one that read, “If you can read this, thank a teacher;” and a similar one in a small print, “If you can read this, you’re driving too close.”

                What is it that drives you when your feet hit the floor each morning?  We awaken with certain obligations which call for our attention, but what is your true passion?  There may be three or four passions in your life, but likely not more than that.  True passions tend to consume us; they are the matters of life around which everything else exists.

                Recently in the news was an elementary school teacher.  Most teachers I know love their job, and many see it as more of a calling than a career; and they love their students.  Hearing of her high school daughter’s tragic accident less than a mile away, she immediately left her class and was at her daughter’s side in only a couple of minutes.  Even our passions are set by priority.

                What do we do, then, when circumstances bring significant challenges in to the mix of life?  How do we cope with discouragement, with setbacks, and with what the world might call failures? What is our response when it all seems out of whack?  Does your frustration ever push you to the edge?

                A passion is usually some matter in life for which we are willing to sacrifice, to bleed, possibly even to die; it drives us, motivates us.  Our passion provides for us a point of reference when we become uncertain about who we are or what we are supposed to do.  A bumper sticker for it might read, “Purpose above circumstance.”  Our lives should be driven by purpose, and not by circumstances.

                Looking at it from the perspective of Christian faith, Lloyd John Ogilvie writes, “When we are filled with the depression we often feel resulting from our own judgments on ourselves and others, He comes and shows us that He has a task for us which is part of His strategy for changing the world.” 

                Too often we allow circumstances to distort our perspective which alters our thoughts and emotions.  It is true that there will always be challenges in life that upset our plans and practices.  Rather than living ‘under the circumstances,’ I choose to live within my purpose.  Therein is found the will to persevere, the courage to keep moving forward, and a peace of heart and mind, knowing that I have stayed the course of my life’s passion.  

A Lesson With Contractions

May 30, 2014

The English language can be difficult even for those who are born and raised on it. An example is the way we tend to confuse the words “can’t” and “won’t.”

A little boy had climbed the tree in his back yard with no problem at all. Finding a way to get back down, however, was another challenge altogether. It was a beautiful Saturday morning and, like most boys with a whole day of opportunity, Timothy’s adventures had led him to the idea of climbing among the limbs of the Mulberry tree.

After enjoying a few minutes sitting on the limb and watching the world from way up high, or so it seemed to him, three attempts at climbing back down were frightening and difficult. Beginning to panic, the boy called out, and then cried out, “Dad. Dad! DAD! Help!” At Timothy’s age, Dad was still a hero who could do absolutely anything.

Dad quickly came to the rescue. He was amazed that Timothy had climbed so high. Standing beneath the tree and directly under his son, Dad instructed, “It’s okay, Timmy. I’ve got you. Just slowly scoot yourself toward the edge of the limb and let go. I will catch you.” He had a sense of confidence in his voice, but Timothy was not so certain.

Then he determined, “Dad, I can’t!” Now, you and I know that statement was not true. There was nothing physically hindering the boy from doing as his Dad suggested. What he meant was, “I won’t!” He could have said it in other ways: I don’t want to; I’m afraid to try it; I don’t believe you can catch me. Yet, his words and thoughts were, “I can’t.”

Well, after some coaxing and reassurance, Timothy finally discovered and proved that he could do it, and he was brought safely back to earth by his Dad, who came through one more time.

The mind is a powerful instrument. It can convince us of almost anything if we allow it to do so, whether positive or negative. Athletes, entertainers, writers, lawyers, teachers, soldiers – – they all will agree that confidence enhances performance, and lack of confidence can derail performance. Of course, we should acknowledge and accept that there actually are some things we cannot do, some things we cannot know, and some things we cannot see.

We also should admit that too often we fall short of our best by convincing ourselves that “we can’t” when we really do not know that to be a fact. We are so confident in our knowledge of probabilities that we give up too easily. Someone inquires of us, “Have you asked Bill?” Our response often may be, “No, but he’ll probably turn me down.”

William F. O’Brien is credited with the statement, “I’d rather try and fail than never try at all,” and Henry Ford declared, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you are right.” This reminds me that after working through negative probabilities and self-doubt, the Little Engine finally believed he could, and he did.