She was thrilled. Her son was admitted to Harvard. He would be a success. But then, he dropped out. A dropout for a son. Now she was embarrassed. He was a failure. No one hires a dropout.
It took many years before Mrs. Gates was able to see that perhaps her attitudes around success and failure needed to be adjusted. Her son, Bill, was a smart guy and he chose a different path. Eventually, he was given an honorary degree from Harvard but not until long after his little company, Microsoft, had proven it was successful.
Where do we get our ideas about success and failure? Why are we so quick to feel something was one or the other? We use these rather vague labels to define not only events but often people. And who is to be the judge? Some people will tell you that their ‘failures’ in life only made them stronger and led to better outcomes. Others will say that ‘success’ ruined their lives and only made them miserable.
Our focus on success or failure is most often shaped by the culture around us rather than by our Biblical understanding of what it means to be a child of God. He is far more forgiving of our failures than we might think. He is far less impressed with our successes than we might hope. When we are confident in his love, we find it much easier to enjoy life without being labelled by the world around us.
The writer of Proverbs asked that God give him neither poverty nor riches, but just his daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:8-9)
When we are trusting God for all our provision, he knows just what we need.