Sep. 14, 2021
Well, let's kick it off!
"Accustom yourself to look first to the dreadful consequences of failure; then fix your eye on the glorious prize which is before you, and when your strength begins to fail … let the animating view rekindle your resolution, and call forth in renewed vigor the fainting energies of your soul."
- William Wilberforce
In writing and speaking, I was taught there is a key difference between having something to say vs. having to say something.
I wholeheartedly agree with my mentors in that principle, but with starting a blog, I would abrogate that principle for just this one instance. When beginning to write, it is typical to arrive at a mental fork in the road where we struggle with what we could possibly put out there in haste versus what we could ideally convey to our audience, which would require at least some time and strain.
Having struggled with that dichotomy, I simply choose to write here speedily in this opening post (basically free from edits) and get ahead of my desire for perfection which doggedly pursues me when I try to communicate.
So thank you for hanging tight to read up until this point!
The first blog post is soon over and we have survived. Hallelujah.
...But just before we go our separate ways, I want to re-direct your attention to the quote I have featured up top in-bold.
William Wilberforce, a British politician—of whom you can learn more about here, tells his audience the key to success in any endeavor is via having a proper focus.
He communicates two ways we are to focus in order to achieve something greater than what our selves would accomplish otherwise (and he achieved quite a lot if you happen to know his story!).
We are to:
01: Make a habit of looking at failure and its consequence.
I have a dear friend we will call "J", who is now a pastor. J lived a very different life 10 years ago. He was a crazed drug addict (and in a craze is putting it lightly) who was rather violent.
After pursuing a specific person on the Interstate and running their vehicle off the road with the victim escaping, J went from being the pursuer to the pursued.
Around 3 AM one morning as J was up and about outside of his front door, the man who J was chasing thought it fit to kill J before he himself was killed.
So the man crept up undetected with his 12 gauge shotgun and shot J in the chest from just a few feet away.
To make a long and pain-ridden story short, J's story of survival was a tough one with him drowning on blood, unable to breathe from his collapsed lung, and losing blood quickly.
At one point later while he was in an ambulance, J had a vision of a timeline displayed before him of his whole life. In this vision, God showed him not his past, but rather his potential future and all of the things he was going to miss out on in life. That, in essence, J had missed his life's purpose by a mile. He was shown all of these things in a way that was bare of all pleasantry and comfort. J saw himself missing out on moments of being there in the future for his kids, he was never ever going to go transcend his own selfishness and make the difference that he was supposed to make in our world.
What J experienced was profound regret. He once told me he wished that no one would ever have to see something so horrible as what he had to see in that vision. A few years later, J's perspective had changed and instead he wished that everyone could see that for themselves, because if they did, they would certainly want to change their lives and how they dealt with God, friends, family, and the world around them.
I use this real illustration to state, that looking at that potential reality of our own failing and its consequences, spurns us to great action. My friend's life tells that story. J is a genuinely changed man today, helping people caught in the snares of addiction and hopelessness like he had himself once been. J taught me to look intentionally at what could be lost if I abandoned my way—if I neglected God and those around me to serve only my self, never to achieve my true purpose in life.
So, dear reader, please venture to look at that ugly failure and its [dreadful] consequence.
It is great for the soul.
But Wilberforce, does not tell us to stop there!
He then insists that we:
02: Focus on the prize.
Looking at failure will not sustain us on the journey. It may only remind us to get moving and to not become complacent. Instead, we must look intently at what we hope to gain in order to persevere when things get tough, when we are sagging in our commitments and resolutions to win the race; ace that project; or help out someone in a bind—we desperately need fuel.
Wilberforce tells us when we focus on that which we would be rewarded with for our success, that new vigor will be given to us! [keep that carrot out front : ) ]
Wilberforce was a successful man, but he had over 15 years of straight failure in trying to get British Parliament to approve his bill to outlaw the slave trade. He could have given up easily and accepted the status quo feelings on slavery, but he could not and he would not.
Wilberforce saw his potential failure. He focused on its consequence.
But he also saw the prize of his efforts if he did succeed, so he continued and was given new vigor, and he conquered the challenges before him.
The joy of the prize was greater than the fear of failure. He focused on the prize.
The loftier the prize, the greater one goes beyond themselves to attain it.
If you ask someone about running across eight lanes of highly kinetic traffic for a single Reese's Peanut Butter cup, I know a few people I could perhaps round up for that task.
...And people would suggest it was petty and idiotic to risk so much for so little.
But if a toddler was stranded in the center of that road, in grave danger of being hit by passing motorists (we imagine the prize or value we place on human life would motivate almost 100% of people to go charging out to rescue the toddler), we would say those who refused to help were cowardly, petty, and idiotic to value themselves so highly as opposed to the safety of a vulnerable child. They would be prizing so little at the expense of losing so much!
So we need a very good prize to focus upon—a reward that we will value so highly that we can willingly endure any troubles and any failures!
Besides, failure that we settle into always gives us self-loathing, and who can live long with that!?
Now you have your own specific reward and that is your joy to find.
I hope you find that dear prize and get re-kindled! (i.e. your fire and enthusiasm back)
Thank you for reading!
You can find out more about Wilberforce and his inspiring life-struggle to defeat slavery in the book Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas.
I did a review on that book here—if you would like to know more about him, his personal ethos, and his accomplishments.
Have a blessed day!