I pull into the High School parking lot and bite my lip as he exits the car.
“I love you,” I say to him.
“I hope you fail,” I think silently.
It’s the first day of his freshman year. He’s already made a band full of new friends during summer rehearsals. For nearly a month, he’s been practicing with them twice a day outside in the brutal Texas heat. They straggle out of practice at the end of each day. Sweaty. Sunburned. Weary. Lugging instruments, gear, and gallon sized coolers of water out to the parking lot. There is only enough energy left to make it home to shower, eat, and collapse on the couch.
This first day of school, he’ll have two hours out in the relentless heat after his full day of classes. Warned the teachers wait to hand out supply lists on the first day of class, and knowing how exhausted he is after rehearsals, I offer to shop for his school supplies during rehearsal. “Just text me a list and let me know,” I say. “Okay,” he says.
I bite my lip as he prepares to get out of the van. I know he won’t send me a list. Do I nag and cajole him to text me what he needs? Or do I make him shop for himself after two hours of practice in the blazing 100 degree heat?
“I love you,” I tell him. “Let him fail on this one,” I think to myself. I bite down harder on my lip to keep myself from nagging. I have to let him fail, because I know it’s what is best for him. It won’t be what’s most comfortable or convenient today, for sure. I’m playing the long game in this parenting gig, though, and I know this is the right play.
My kids know I want them to fail. And they know why, too. It’s one of the best life/parenting lessons I learned when they were still little. It’s not a bad lesson for us grown ups, either.
Four Reasons I Hope You Fail…
1. I hope you fail while the consequences are small.
Learn as many lessons as you can while the risk involved is minimal. Imagine you forget to complete a project on time, and fail to meet a deadline. As a kid, the consequences are small… you’ll get a lower grade, maybe even a zero in the gradebook. You’ll be in trouble at home and at school, but life will go on.
Now, what happens if you fail to complete an important project and miss a deadline as an adult with a career? You might lose a contract, a client, or get yourself fired. The risks are much higher.
I hope you fail while the consequences are small.
2. I hope you fail so you learn not to give up.
Failure isn’t the end of your story. It’s an opportunity to learn, to grow, to try again and do it better next time. We get this wrong all the time. Failure is not the end unless you decide it is.
Embrace your failures. You’re inevitably going to fail before you succeed. This is nothing new. When you were a baby, you didn’t give up the first time you fell when tried to stand up and walk, did you? Of course not! Nothing was going to stop you from getting to the other side of that room.
I don’t know where along the line we decided we have to get everything right the first time. Let’s go back to taking baby steps, figuring out what does and doesn’t work. Try. Fail. Learn. Repeat. Remind yourself what it feels like to not give up.
I hope you fail so you learn not to give up.
3. I hope you fail until it no longer intimidates you.
If I told you I could make you fail just with the power of my mind, you’d laugh at me. But we do this to ourselves every day. Fear of failure can stop us in our tracks before we even make an attempt. Just the idea of it. It’s all in our heads. But what if I fail? Let’s play it out… What if you do fail? Will you die? Will something catastrophic happen? No? Didn’t think so. Don’t let fear keep you from getting started.
I hope you fail until it no longer intimidates you.
4. I hope you fail so you learn to trust God with your goals.
At some point, despite your best efforts, you will reach the point where you need to ask for help. I know. We all hate to ask for help. But learning from your mistakes and not giving up are not always enough. I hope you have to reach for something bigger than yourself, bigger than you can do on your own. When you’ve learned how to fail, you’ll learn to be brave enough to set goals so high you must learn to trust God to help. (Psst… you don’t have to wait. You can start trusting Him now.)
Reach for a big, scary goal. Do something you know will make you need Him. Because when you learn you to recognize your need for Him, you learn to rely on Him. And when you rely on Him? You learn how deeply you can trust Him. When you trust Him, you begin to seek Him more frequently. You’ll ask for more, and you’ll truly begin to knock on the door of all He has planned for you.
These are the kinds of goals I want you to set and reach for. The ones you will fail on your own, the ones which need your commitment and trust in God to succeed.
I hope you fail so you learn to trust God with your goals.
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