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Eighteen Reasons Why Failure Does Not Define You

by Ben Courson

Eighteen Reasons Why Failure Does Not Define You

1. Colonel Sanders, he-of-mustache-fame and creator of KFC, was turned down by over a thousand restaurants when he tried to sell his chicken recipe.

2. Walt Disney was denied funding by over a hundred banks when he tried to score financial backing for a little theme park called Disneyland.

3. Charlie Chaplain's earliest screen testers said his act was, "too obscure" for people to understand. The man who'd become the nation's first bona fide movie star was panned.

In similar fashion, the best Bible characters were great failures. The titans of eld were great FAILURES but also GREAT failures.

In this article, I'm going to argue that to be a failure does not negate greatness, but is actually a symptom of greatness.

Ergo, if YOU feel like a failure, this piece is dedicated to you. Let's review the Cliff Notes of Scripture's dramatis personae. Moses was the creme de la creme of lawgivers. Elijah was at Jesus's right hand on the Mount of Transfiguration. Paul wrote Bible for a living. Nathaniel was "a true son of Israel in whom there is no guile." John was “the disciple whom Jesus loved." Peter went from Sandy (shifting, sand Simon) to Dwanye Johnson (Cephas the Rock), and David was dubbed "a man after God's own heart." But I’ll tell the OTHER half of the story:

4. Moses had temper problems.

5. Elijah was moody.

6. Paul green-lighted the genocide of Christians.

7. Nathaniel was a xenophobe-racist-Nazareth hater.

8. John tried to torch the Samaritan village Jesus came to touch.

9. Peter denied Jesus three times when a little girl peer pressured him. Jesus once called Peter Satan.

10. Arguably, the crown of the lot, David, was also the washout of the bunch. He murdered one of his own mighty men. He had an affair. And he reared a son named, Amnon, who raped his sister, Tamar.

And yet…we are not defined by our problems, but by our response to God's promise. And if God calls us His imago-Dei-poetry-in-motion-kings-and-priests-workmanship, then who are we to argue?

We might fail, but God's love never fails, and that's what counts.

So, dare I say it? The greatest failure in life is fearing it. Winston Churchill said, "Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it's the courage to continue on that counts." To boot, "Success consists in one's ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm."

Now, if I think of anyone as a success story, it's Mr. Churchill. Who won a Nobel Prize for literature and lead the Allies to victory in a World War. He was also ruddy clever. Nancy Astor once told him, "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea," he replied, "Nancy, if you were my wife, I'd drink the tea you poisoned." On another occasion, when he was in his cups, Bessie Braddock snapped, "Winston, you're drunk," he replied, "And Madam, you're ugly. And tomorrow when I wake up, I'll be sober, and you'll still be ugly." He was that witty tipsy? Depressing. After all, I got a 2.0 GPA sober. That's because my teachers didn't know how to teach a creative genius (Jokes). I think of Churchill as a king of the comeback, ruler of the riposte, brilliant bloke whose greatest failure was his penchant for the sauce.

11. Ah, but we daren't forget that Churchill lost every public office role he ran for before he became prime minister at 62 years old. Oh, and he failed sixth grade. Anomaly? I think not.

12. Thomas Edison's schoolteachers told him he was too stupid to learn anything.

13. Beethoven was told by his music teacher that he was a hopeless composer.

14. Dr. Seuss's first book was rejected by 27 different publishers.

15. Harrison Ford was told by a film executive that he'd never make it in the movie business (tell that to Chewie).

16. Vincent van Gogh sold a grand total of ONE painting in his entire life (no wonder he chopped off his ear).

17. Abe Lincoln lost eight elections, couldn't get into law school, failed at business twice and had a nervous breakdown before becoming our sixteenth president.

18. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because he "lacked imagination and had no good ideas."

And so, maybe the wartime hero said it right, “It ain't about how high you climb, it's about how high you bounce when you hit the bottom.”

Ben Courson

Ben Courson is director of Hope Generation, has a national TV and radio program and is author of three books.