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Tag Archives: overcoming failure

Don’t Throw it Away

Every now and then, I will be overwhelmed by frustration. Whatever I am working on at this time turns into an epic failure. Human nature will trigger thoughts like “what’s the point or you’re wasting your time.” Apparently, one of Jesus’ disciples encountered a similar situation during the first century. Due to a growing number of spiritual imposters, John warns leaders to not throw away all that you’ve invested.

Look to yourselves (take care) that you may not lose (throw away or destroy) all that we and you have labored for, but that you may [persevere until you] win and receive back a perfect reward [in full], 2 John 1:8.

Perhaps John is reminded of the words of Jesus in Luke 14:28. Before you build anything, start a new project or commit yourself to a time-consuming task, consider the costs. If you don’t have a time of reflection to sort out all the details, there’s a chance you’ll never finish this endeavor. Therefore, before you pour your heart and soul into anything, sit down to see if this can be accomplished.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. 10 So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [[i]morally] to all people [not only [j]being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers], Galatians 6:9-10.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul writes to Christians who are thinking about giving up on someone or something. Whether you’re reaching out to a friend or working on a worthy project, in the end you reap what you sow. If anything is good or worthwhile, Philippians 4:8-9, think about such things. May the encouragement provided above help you not throw away all that you have invested. Keep the faith!

by Jay Mankus

Failure is Part of the Process

As the sun rises on a new day, human beings typically have one of three decisions to make. Do you play it safe to avoid embarrassing yourself? Is today the day you take a chance by risking failure? Or will you decide to embrace the status quo by holding off on making a decision until tomorrow? Whatever choice you finally make, just remember that failure is part of the process in life.

Moreover [let us also be full of joy now!] let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of [c]character (approved faith and [d]tried integrity). And character [of this sort] produces [the habit of] [e]joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us, Romans 5:3-5.

If you are fortunate enough to have success early on in life, human nature has a tendency to relax, to rest upon past victories. When no one else challenges, threatens or usurps you as the best, you’re probably not around stiff competition. If you have never tasted defeat by winning over and over again, you’re either amazing, blessed or hardship has yet to introduce itself to you.

But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may [c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 10 So for the sake of Christ, I am well pleased and take pleasure in infirmities, insults, hardships, persecutions, perplexities and distresses; for when I am weak [[d]in human strength], then am I [truly] strong (able, powerful [e]in divine strength), 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

In the two passages above, the apostle Paul suggests that failure is part of the process in life. Failure has a way of exposing all of your weaknesses. If you’re an athlete, being humiliated in front of family and friends can be demoralizing. Whether you’re a pitcher who is being shelled, a golfer who can’t hit it straight or a runner that finishes in last place, failure triggers that internal spark to drive competitive souls to learn and move on to live another day.

by Jay Mankus

Overcoming a Nervous Breakdown

The definition of a nervous breakdown is a period of mental illness resulting from severe depression, stress, or anxiety. This condition manifests itself primarily as severe stress-induced depression, anxiety or dissociation in a previously functioning individual. If these symptoms continue without any sort of intervention, the afflicted are no longer able to function on a day-to-day basis until this disorder is cured.  During a long cross country practice in high school, I had my own breakdown while running up a hill.

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done and how he had slain all the prophets [of Baal] with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow. Then he was afraid and arose and went for his life and came to Beersheba of Judah [over eighty miles, and out of Jezebel’s realm] and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a lone broom or juniper tree and asked that he might die. He said, It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life; for I am no better than my fathers, 1 Kings 19:1-4.

A mental breakdown is defined by its temporary nature, often closely tied to psychological burnout, severe overwork, sleep deprivation and similar stressors. In the passage above, an Old Testament prophet wasn’t prepared for the revenge sought by Queen Jezebel. After defeating the prophets of Asherah and Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah may have become over confident, 1 Kings 18:38-40. If I successfully called fire to come down from heaven following a prayer like Elijah, I would feel invincible.

As he lay asleep under the broom or juniper tree, behold, an angel touched him and said to him, Arise and eat. He looked, and behold, there was a cake baked on the coals, and a bottle of water at his head. And he ate and drank and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came the second time and touched him and said, Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you. So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and nights to Horeb, the mount of God, 1 Kings 19:5-8.

Unfortunately, only God knows the future. Thus, when your suffer a surprising defeat, shocking failure or a humiliating lose, it takes time to recover. If a life is lost or a job terminated, the recovery time is often extended to months and years to feel normal again. This is when you need to retreat like Elijah to quiet place, to be still before God, 1 Kings 19:11-13. While the healing process will vary, this is the first step toward overcoming a nervous breakdown.

by Jay Mankus

When A Slither of Hope Remains

The word slither can be used to describe a small slice of something. If you have ever found yourself caught on a bush full of thorns or you accidently brush up against a small fiber, slithers can inflict pain. Depending upon how deep these slithers penetrate your skin, blood and scars reveal the size of this object. Whenever you endure a series of defeats, failures or losses in life, hope can shrink like a tiny slither, difficult to see.

Therefore humble yourselves [demote, lower yourselves in your own estimation] under the mighty hand of God, that in due time He may exalt you, Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully, 1 Peter 5:6-7.

In my final season of coaching Majors, baseball players age 10-12, I lost a majority of my team from the prior season. Thus, I was forced to alter my expectations before the season began with a young team without much talent. To make matters worse, my best pitcher broke his arm on opening day. With my only leader in a cast for most of the season, the losses began to pile up. Moral victories took on a new meaning when my team got to play a full six innings instead of losing by the mercy rule.

Be well balanced (temperate, sober of mind), be vigilant and cautious at all times; for that enemy of yours, the devil, roams around like a lion roaring [in fierce hunger], seeking someone to seize upon and devour, 1 Peter 5:8.

Whether you’re a coach, individual or parent, defeat can take a toll on fragile souls. The more you experience failure, the concept of success and victory often disappears, fading from your memory. Thus, as a spirit of defeat settles in like a stationary front that stalls over you, you must press on. In this rainy season, hopeful hearts must persevere as negativity reigns. When only a slither of hope remains, cry out to Jesus while there is time left to alter an outcome.

by Jay Mankus

So You Think You Had A Bad Weekend

Depending upon which historian you reference, Jesus was crucified some time around 30 AD. After hearing the disturbing news that the Coronavirus death toll has surpassed 15,000 in the United States and over 450,000 throughout the world, my mind was drawn back in time to the first Passion Week. Immediately following the emotional high of Palm Sunday, a series of events gradually turned the tide from celebration to sadness. You might want to compare your own weekend to what happened to the disciples.

Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Galilee. It happened this way: Simon Peter, Thomas (also known as Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together. “I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing, John 21:1-3.

First, Judas Iscariot exchanged his relationship with Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. When asked to pray for Jesus in his greatest moments of need, the remaining 11 disciples all fell asleep. After initially fighting to save their leader from being arrested, Jesus turned himself in. Moments later, fearful for his own life, the man given the nickname the rock, caved to peer pressure like the cowardly lion, denying knowing Jesus three times publicly. Only John, the beloved one was present in the final hours, standing by helplessly as Jesus as died on a cross. To make matters worse, Judas committed suicide after being overwhelmed by a spirit of guilt.

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.” 16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” 17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.” Jesus said, “Feed my sheep, John 21:15-17.

If you flash back to the first Easter Sunday, Peter abandoned the ministry, going back to his old job as a fisherman. Instead of having a sunrise service, Peter went fishing in the middle of the night. Bringing a couple of the disciples along, they didn’t catch anything, a painful reminder of their epic failure. When providing instructions from the shore about fishing, the disciples didn’t recognize Jesus. However, after their great haul of fish, their eyes were opened to the resurrected Messiah. As you celebrate Easter in a different way, post Coronavirus, may your own eyes be open to the resurrecting power of the Holy Spirit.

by Jay Mankus

When You Don’t Have It

Depending upon the day, energy level, focus, inspiration and motivation, results will vary, often drastically. Some days you wake up feeling great, get into a groove early on and finish with a great sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, these productive days can come and go, disappearing quickly. Then, there are weeks where you just don’t have it. For one reason or another, your normal degree of success drops, far from your normal self.

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, Psalm 119:105.

If you have ever competed in a competition or sporting event, you understand the concept of days when you don’t have it. A series of factors can cause a skilled individual to look like a beginner from time to time. While I’ve spent most of my life playing golf at a high level, I am currently in one of my worst funks in over a decade. Although I have only played four times this year, three of the four rounds have been dreadful. Despite concentrating and focusing, I feel lost, forgetting to apply the core principles which led me to play professionally more than 2 decades ago.

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope, Romans 15:4.

This same mental struggle can affect Christians as well. Depending upon your daily Bible Study, prayer life and worship, it doesn’t take much to start slip sliding away from God. If your life is void of accountability or a mentor, this spiritual slippage may continue for months, a year or longer. According to the apostle Paul, hope can be regained by reading the Bible. I’ve had enough spiritual slides over the last 40 years that I know once your spiritual momentum is broken, it takes twice as long to regain. Yet, the good news is that Jesus came to seek to save that which was lost, Luke 19:10.

by Jay Mankus

So You Think That You are in Control?

As a struggling perfectionist, I like to think that I can accomplish whatever I set my heart and mind on. Although I am blessed to have succeeded in achieving many of my goals in life, the older I become, the more I seem to experience failure. With defeat comes doubt, making the idea of victory a foreign concept. Meanwhile, just when I think I am heading in the right direction, God throws me a curve. While fasting and praying this week, it’s safe to say that I am not in control.

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever, 1 Corinthians 9:24-25.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul uses a sports analogy, referencing the Corinthians Games, a famous Track & Field competition. The only problem with athletics is the finality of it all as there is only one winner. Everyone else who falls short ends up a loser, often disappointed by the outcome. In a world of over 7 billion inhabitants, there is always some better than you, eventually taking your championship, crown or title. No matter how hard you train, you can’t control the determination of someone else who wants it more than you.

Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize, 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.

Boxers and runners daily seek to push their bodies to the limits. This desire enables the world’s greatest athletes to break records every year. Yet, you can only go so far as the human flesh has it’s breaking point. In the passage above, the apostle Paul adds a spiritual element to this discussion. This comes to a climax in another letter, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, where Paul realizes, “in my weakness Christ is strongest.” Therefore, as the spiritually mature acknowledge that they are not in control, God’s power will fall upon you.

by Jay Mankus

Some Days You Have It… Some Days You Don’t

Watching a sporting event can be like a television drama with unexpected twists and turns.  As this presentation enfolds, it won’t take long to determine who is playing up to their potential and who is having a rough night.  Baseball and golf events are prime examples as a hall of fame pitcher will have a night or two where it looks like there are throwing batting practice in a homerun derby.  Meanwhile, David Duval, a former British Open champion started his opening round of the 2019 British Open one under par through six holes.  Twelve holes and 20 over par later, a professional golfer shot 90 for 18 holes.

For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity, Proverbs 24:16.

You don’t have to play a sport to experience this strange phenomena.  As a former teacher, some days I was on a roll, coming up with amazing examples to highlight my lesson plan.  Then, out of the blue, I went through periods where I struggled to get my point across as students looked dazed and confused.  Although preparation is necessary for any type of teaching, more time spent planning doesn’t always translate into success.  While there isn’t a Bible verse that contains a direct link, all I can say to explain these occurrences is that “some days you have it and some days you don’t.”

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever, Psalm 73:26.

Solomon and the Psalmist provide advice for individuals who experience failure on days where they don’t have it.  King Solomon states that the righteous keep getting back up no matter how many times they fail.  Meanwhile, the Psalmist points to trusting in God to help you overcome disappointment and failure.  King Solomon also encourages believers to learn from mistakes so that you don’t repeat epic failures from your past.  No one likes to fail, but when you do lean on the hope in relief of God’s mercy, Lamentations 3:21-23.

by Jay Mankus

Will You Pass the Love Test

For those of you who enjoy taking cup cake classes in school, searching for an easy A, the Bible contains some difficult challenges.  Depending upon how self critical you are, the words of scripture expose darkness with light.  Subsequently, no matter how good of a person you may be, its surprising how many people fail the Bible’s love test.

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen, 1 John 4:20.

The one whom Jesus loved opens up this short quiz.  When all other disciples abandoned Jesus following his arrest, John stood by his side at the cross where he died.  What John heard on this day sent shock waves to what he believed about love.  Despite being beaten, mocked and tortured, Jesus cried out, “forgive them for they know not what they do.”  This statement inspired question number one.

1. Is there anyone you despise, hate or treat with contempt?

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins, Matthew 6:14-15.

The second participant chimes as from an unique perspective.  Serving as a tax collector, Levi also known as Matthew worked in one of the most corrupt occupations of his day.  During Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, he mentions prostitutes on the same level with tax collectors.  Thus, its highly possible that Matthew made many enemies, cheating and stealing money from hard working citizens.  With this in mind, forgiveness is something that Matthew sought, touched by Jesus’ words above.

2. Have you forgiven everyone who has hurt you or is there a grudge you are currently holding on to?

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no commandment greater than these,” Mark 12:30-31.

Finally, John Mark is an individual who initially left the mission field, letting down the apostle Paul.  Yet, over time Mark matured, eventually winning back the respect he lost with Paul.  This transformation was made possible with the words shared by Jesus above.  The context of this question involved a trap with Pharisees attempting to trick Jesus into de-emphasizing one of the 10 commandments.  Yet, his words essentially summarize the first four with one comment and the final six with his second statement setting up the final question.

3. Where is your love for God currently and are you following the golden rule in your interactions with others?

If you failed this test like me, may God’s forgiveness, grace and mercy lift you up and fill you with a heart willing to bear with, embrace and love one another.

by Jay Mankus

 

Are We Almost There?

As an aspiring screen writer, I know the pain of being close, but not quite there.  Every spring thousands of like minded individuals register one to three scripts in the Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screening Contest.  This international competition brings the best and brightest amateur writers hoping for their big break each year.  Depending upon how my current edit goes of my first film, Express Yourself, I should find out in July if I have arrived or I’m not quite there yet.

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, Philippians 3:13.

In the mean time, the best path to take toward achieving your goals and dreams in life is through a steady grind.  Sure, most people wake up tired, weary and uninspired.  Yet, the ones who fight through the temptation to become lazy to stay focused pass those who are more talented but less committed.  Like anything in life, you have to really want it and be willing to overcome countless failures to get where you want to be.  Unfortunately, some never make the compromises necessary to reach their full potential.

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus, Philippians 3:14.

There is an old expression, “you can’t have your cake and eat it too.”  Well, this may be true to some extent, pressing on toward your goal in life will ultimately shape the final outcome.  While I do know my current limitations, I do believe writing is part of God’s plan for my life.  Although I’m not sure if I’m currently on the right track, I press on in faith so that almost home will become finally there in the near future.

by Jay Mankus

 

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