Failure

(May 2006)

There are a lot of talks out there about how to be successful.  There are many speakers that will tell people how to succeed in life.  This talk is not one of those talks.  This talk is about (1) why that isn’t always possible, (2) why always being successful isn’t important, and (3) how to handle failure

We experienced perfection before we came to this earth.  We know what perfection is.  Our spirits know what perfection feels like.  It is easy and natural for us to envision and expect it.  However, we didn’t come to this earth to experience perfection.  We came here to experience imperfection.  Our eternal happiness is dependent upon our learning about imperfection.

Consider the Savior’s life.  Think for a minute about what the expectations for his life were.  Scriptures had foretold his coming for millennia.  It included scriptures about great success, great power, subduing enemies and being a king forever.  Expectations for his life were greater than for most anyone else.

Consider the state of the nation he was born into; a vassal, conquered state.  The circumstances of his birth; to some he might have appears as homeless, and illegitimate.  His upbringing was not even at the center of that conquered state, but rather in a lowly province, despised for its backwardness.

Think about our the apostles felt the morning after the crucifixion.  The leader of their movement has just been killed in a most humiliating way.  He was condemned to die by the leaders of that vassal state.  His followers felt so unsure of themselves the morning before that some had felt the need to deny association with the movement.  They have no clear direction as to what they should do next.

All of this is so opposite what they believed.  They had believed that this man was the Son of God, the creator of heaven and earth, the great I AM come among them.  And yet he is dead.

Spiritual things can only be perceived spiritually.  And the true success of the Savior could not be perceived at that time except through spiritual eyes.  Why should our lives be any different?  In the eyes of the world, Joseph Smith was variously a villain, charlatan, pervert, liar, vagabond, who ultimate got what he deserved.  Today, even the president of the church, who we might consider the most successful among us, might be considered a leader who amasses no wealth, works until the day he dies, is a leader of a deluded and foolish people, headquartered in a forgotten territory.  Spiritual things must be perceived spiritually.

Think of the key phrases from the Savior,  “Nevertheless, not my will”.  See D&C 121 and 122 for Joseph.  See Daniel about “But if not.”  We must “submit to all things, even as a child does submit to his father.”  That is our obligation.

[Consider adding on to this a link to “time line” with a perspective on the fact that the time line for our lives is much longer than just the short-term until death.  If we are true to our callings, even short-term failures, like the second act in a three act play, will result in an ultimately happy ending.]

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