Tag Archives: failure and success

Who Is Taking the Risk?

Story of the Day for Wed. September 19, 2012

Who Is Taking the Risk?


                 The kingdom of heaven is like . . . a man leaving on a trip. He called his servants and gave them his possessions.                                                              Matthew 25:14



When the Confederate Navy built the first steel-plated warship, Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, nearly went hysterical. What could the North do to counter it? The destiny of the Union Navy rested in the brainchild of a zany inventor, John Ericsson. It’s hardly a surprise that, when Ericsson presented his ironclad ship design, no one was listening. The Monitor looked like “a cheese box on a raft.” The naval board didn’t believe the ship, if built, would even float. Other than the turret, it was mostly underwater.  The odd-looking vessel was only a third the length of a schooner. It had no sails, but ran on steam. And, as to firepower?  Two guns.

Could the Naval Department afford to take such a risk?


There’s no question that stepping out in faith is risky. Tim McMahon put it well when he said, “Yes risk-taking is inherently failure-prone. Otherwise, it would be called sure-thing taking.”

Have you ever burned with a dream? You want to use your talents or possessions in a venture for God’s kingdom.

But you never did it. You were afraid you might fail.


Jesus told a parable about a wealthy man who handed over his money to his servants.   The servants were to do the best they could with the amount entrusted to them. But whose money was at risk? If the servants tried, and lost the money, they weren’t out a penny.


Would it help you to know you really can’t fail?

In our finer moments, we acknowledge that everything we have belongs to God. Not only our salvation, but everything – our time, talents, and money, is His. But, do we realize what we’re saying when we claim this? When we step out in faith, whose possessions are at risk?


Many historical accounts portray the Naval Department as taking an enormous risk in commissioning the construction of the U.S.S. Monitor.  Actually, they took no risk at all. They commissioned Ericsson to build his weird-looking boat – but on the condition that, if it didn’t perform as the inventor claimed, Ericsson would have to personally pay for all construction costs.

Ericsson took the risk.


Don’t be afraid to try something for God’s kingdom. God is willing to take the risk.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre) 

Feed Your Soul on Failed Speech

Story of the Day for Tuesday December 27, 2011

Feed Your Soul on Failed Speech

                 Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” 

                                                          John 6:67

 There is this politician I know and I want to share something that happened to him. Off the record, of course.

Quite a few years ago, he was asked, as an afterthought, to speak at a special gathering. The committee told him he shouldn’t try to be funny or to talk too long. You have to admire any politician who would agree to those stipulations, but he did.

Then, just as he was getting reading to leave, his son got sick. Normally, this wouldn’t be overly traumatic, but their older son had just died the year before, and now his wife was in hysterics about him leaving. He felt, however, that he had to fulfill his obligation, and sadly, walked out the door on his sick son and angry wife.

And, then, on his way to give his speech, he got sick himself. He still hadn’t written his speech. Dog tired, he tried to put some thoughts together.

Fifteen thousand people attended the gathering. A singing group from Baltimore performed a song, and then he was on.


If you’re a preacher, public speaker, or even a student in a high school speech class, you know what it feels like to bomb. You’re embarrassed and humiliated.

He gave his speech. When he finished, there was an awkward silence, followed by tepid, scattered applause. He bombed.

When he slumped into his seat on the podium, he told his friend sitting next to him that his speech failed, and, as if to confirm this, pointed out the disappointment of the crowd.

But a tepid response from the crowd was nothing compared to some in the media. The Chicago Times jumped all over him, calling his speech “silly, flat, and dishwatery.” The Harrisburg, Pennsylvania paper chose to ignore his “silly remarks” in order to spare their readers from such an awful speech.


I’ve kept quiet about this politician’s name, but I guess there’s no harm in sharing it with you now. His name was Abraham Lincoln (I didn’t say I knew him personally). And the speech he gave was for the dedication of a seventeen-acre military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.


When Jesus was at the height of his popularity, he gave a speech and the crowds disliked it. So many people quit following him that he had to ask his own disciples if they intended to leave him as well.

People may reject or ridicule what you have to say – not because it isn’t true, but because they’re not ready to hear it.

Want to know what you should do? Speak the truth anyway. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address took time to become the most well-loved speech in American history.

And two thousand years later, we still feed our souls on Jesus’ “failed” speech.

                                         (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Pad Our Stats or Nurse Our Toes?

Story of the Day for Monday December 20, 2011

Pad Our Stats or Nurse Our Toes?

                After they stoned Paul, they dragged him outside the city, assuming he was dead. But . . . he got up and went back into the city.

                                                                                        Acts 14:19-20

When Henry “Zeke” Bonura was sixteen, he entered the javelin competition at a National Track and Field Championship in 1925, and threw it seven feet farther than the “Chariots of Fire” Olympic gold medalist did in Paris the year before. He still remains the youngest male athlete to win an event at an AAU Track and Field Championship.

At Loyola University, he starred in football, basketball, and track. Notre Dame’s famous football coach, Knute Rockne, called him “The South’s Wonder Athlete.”  When he played major league baseball for the Chicago White Sox he twice led American League first basemen with the lowest percentage of errors.

I won’t tell you that Zeke Bonura was an excellent fielder – not to avoid boring you with the obvious, but to avoid lying.

Bonura was LOUSY at first base.  Sports editor, Otis Harris wrote in 1946: “It was never established beyond a shadow of a doubt that Bonura was the worst fielding first basemen in the majors, but the consensus was that he would do until another one came along.”

So, how could Bonura win the title of best defensive first basemen in both 1934 and 1938 and yet be considered such a bad defensive player?

Simple. He didn’t try.

Zeke made the brilliant discovery that you can’t be charged with an error if you don’t touch the ball. So, he let easy grounders roll into left field and waved at them with his “Mussolini salute.”

I would love to take this opportunity to heap scorn on the lethargic ambitions of Zeke Bonura, but I can’t. I find myself doing the same thing. Sometimes I become so afraid of failing that I never try.

On the apostle Paul’s missionary trips, he often failed to win over the people he met. Once, (against the wishes of the town’s Chamber of Commerce) they stoned Paul and left him for dead. But he picked himself up, dusted himself off, and continued to carry the Good News on his lips.

And good things happened because he wasn’t afraid to fail.

One of the greatest inventors of his time, Charles Kettering, said, “You will never stub your toe standing still. The faster you go, the more chance there is of stubbing your toe.” “But,” Kettering adds, “the more chance you have of getting somewhere.”

When we get our purpose figured out, we won’t waste time trying to pad our stats. We’ll be too busy nursing our toes.

(copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

A Group of Bumblers Who Slowly Learn

Story of the Day for Tuesday October 18, 2011

A Group of Bumblers Who Slowly Learn

                    “How long am I going to put up with you?”

                                                                         Mark 9:19

 Jesus wants to teach us an important truth – one that many Fortune 500 companies have recently discovered.


Sergio Zyman (pronounced ZEE-man) worked on the top secret Project Kansas in 1984. This marketing project introduced New Coke and announced that the “Old Coke” would be discontinued.

Fortune magazine called it “the most disastrous product launch since the Edsel.” Zyman, to no one’s surprise, was fired by Coca-Cola.


In 1993, Zyman was hired by (who would ever guess?) Coca-Cola – this time with a higher position: he became the chief global marketer for the company.

Coca-Cola’s CEO, Roberto Goizueta explained, “We became uncompetitive by not being tolerant of mistakes. The moment you let avoiding failure become your motivator, you’re down the path of inactivity. You can stumble only if you’re moving.”


The potato product company, Ore-Ida shoots off a cannon to celebrate a “perfect failure.” Esso Resources of Canada rewards failure with the Order of the Duck – a duck’s head mounted on a toilet plunger. More and more, successful companies have come to realize that only by trying, and failing, can we ever grow.


Jesus sent his twelve disciples on a mission trip. He gave them authority to preach, heal, and drive out demons. They returned as seasoned veterans.

But, a while later,  when Jesus came down from a mountain with Peter, James, and John, he found the rest of his disciples surrounded by a large crowd in animated discussion. A man stepped forward and explained that he asked Jesus’ disciples to heal his demon-possessed son . . . but they couldn’t do it.


Jesus asked (no doubt with a big sigh) “How long am I going to put up with you?” but we know the answer. He is going to put up with them as long as it takes.

The Bible does not paint a picture of twelve, saintly guys who invariably get things right on the first try.  Instead, we’re shown a group of bumblers who slowly learn what the life of faith is all about.


But here’s the point: Jesus never gave up on them.

And he never gives up on you.

                                                              (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre)

Lit Up in Fairy Lamps

Story of the Day for Thursday July 21, 2011


Lit Up in Fairy Lamps


                    In those days, as the number of disciples increased, the Greeks complained to the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution of food. 

                                                                Acts 6:1

 Great Britain, as part of her coronation celebration for King George VI, staged a review of the royal fleet. On May 20, 1937, the Spithead Review was immortalized by a BBC radio announcer, retired Lieutenant Commander, Thomas Woodrooffe.

But, the radio pre-transmission test sounded troublesome, and the broadcast director was alerted that all might not go well with the broadcast. The Commander’s celebration before the broadcast was, to put it mildly, enthusiastic. Woodrooffe did not disappoint those at the radio station who feared a coming disaster.


“At the present moment,” the Commander began, “the whole fleet is lit up. When I say ‘lit up’ I mean lit up by fairy lamps. . . The whole thing is lit up by fairy lamps. It’s fantastic! It isn’t a fleet at all – it’s just fairy land. The whole thing is in fairy land!”

Woodrooffe was beginning to warm to his theme.

“And when I say a fleet is ‘lit up in lamps’ I mean she’s outlined. The whole ship’s outlined. . .In little lamps.”

The Commander would pause, sometimes for over ten seconds – which, on the radio, is an eternity. After a prolonged silence he proudly announced, “I’m sorry, I was telling people to shut up talking.”

Woodrooffe knew he had grasped the nub of the issue and was not about to let it go.

“What I mean is this: the whole fleet is lit up. In fairy lamps. And each ship is outlined. . . the ships are all lit up. They’re outlined – the whole lot. . . But at this moment there’s a whole huge fleet here. . . this colossal fleet. Lit up. By lights. And the whole scene’s in fairy land. . .”


“The Woodrooffe Incident,” as it came to be called, alerted the BBC that they had no procedures in place to interrupt a live broadcast. (A studio engineer finally cut the Commander off the air, even though he had no authority to do so.) But the BBC learned from its mistake and installed an announcer on duty to intervene should another live broadcast dissolve into calamity.


The early church made mistakes. As Christians multiplied in Jerusalem, the church didn’t fairly distribute food to the poor.  The Greek-speaking widows, who didn’t speak the native language, were neglected.

But when they realized their mistake, the church corrected the problem. Seven men were chosen to see that food was distributed fairly to everyone. And, in a touching gesture, all seven of those responsible for feeding the poor had Greek names.


Don’t worry about making mistakes – you’re not going to avoid them. The only thing you need to worry about is failing to learn, and grow, from them.

                                        (copyright by climbinghigher.org and by Marty Kaarre