Two years ago, I felt like a failure. I had just gotten out of a meeting with my boss, the senior pastor of the church I was on staff at, in which we came to the mutual conclusion that my time working there was coming to an end. I had been there for over four years, which placed me in the statistical minority when it comes to staff pastors. I had seen a lot of my ideas and visions become reality, I helped to develop new ministries that the church had not attempted before, and I cultivated relationships that I still have to this day. Yet I felt like a failure.
Part of the reason was because I had made my fair share of mistakes, which contributed to the sense that my time had come to a close. I was a poor administrator, not very good at managing an office, and wasn’t the most reliable person when it came time to delve out responsibilities.
Another reason was because I didn’t ever really feel like I “fit” in the role of “Pastor.” I felt like a platypus in a dog show most of the time, out of place trying to be something I wasn’t. The areas that I was gifted at weren’t areas that I could be used in to the greatest capacity, and the areas I was needed weren’t areas I was all that good at doing.
So there I was, watching what, to me, was the biggest failure of my life happen. Everything I saw as valuable about myself (my ability to hold a job, to walk in my father’s footsteps as a Pastor, etc.) was crumbling at my feet. And the next thing I knew, I was loading up my family in a moving truck and heading to Missouri, no home to move to, no job, no vehicle, and only my fleas to mourn me. (Ok, that last part was from Aladdin, but I could identify.) Next thing I knew, I was in a pool of depression.
Depression is a funny thing. It sneaks up on you, and you don’t really know you’re struggling with it till you’re already too deep in it to get out. Mine was aggravated every day by the multitude of signs that told me I was a failure. I went back to school to get my BA, just another reminder that I hadn’t finished and wouldn’t finish before I turn 30. I began to work on writing a book and also writing/recording music, which seemed so futile considering how late in the game I was starting. Everything just seemed like a regression for me, a U-turn, and like I had wasted the previous four years of my life. So I sat in a pit.
Then my beautiful, wonderful, amazing wife stepped in. She is training to be a Licensed Professional Counselor, and she is gifted out the wazoo for it. She began to talk me through it all, and she finally helped me change my perspective on life. She helped me to realize that, in life, there really is no backward motion if you’re following God. Everything is progress. What that means is, everything that I’ve done and been through, even my own massive screw ups, are merely stepping stones to get me where God wants me to be. And God’s promise is true, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phi. 1:6)
Now, before I start getting lambasted by anyone about this being too “religious” of a post or anything else, let me just say that there is a principle that can be applied to anyone struggling with feeling like a failure, whether you’re a Christian or not. You’ve got to learn to reframe your situation and realize that if it wasn’t for the pain you had yesterday, you wouldn’t have the perspective today. And the perspective of today will help you to achieve greatness tomorrow, if you’ll just apply it to your life.
So, just be thankful for the stepping stones you have in life, and walk on them and the ones you’ll create in the future to achieve your purpose. That’s what I’m gonna do, and I believe I’ll be amazed at the result.