Key to Success

Michael Jordan once said:

“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games, and 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot … and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.”


Most all of us want to be winners. The competitor in us hates to lose. Yet, just like with Michael Jordan, we don’t always win. In fact, the times we fail can be some of the best times for our lives as God works out all things for our good in the long run (Romans 8:28).


The apostle Paul was a winner. Yet, he too experienced the frustration of losing. After he appealed three times to the LORD to remove his “thorn in the flesh,” we read this in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (ESV):

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.


When we always win, we learn to trust in ourselves. We trust our abilities and our own wisdom But, when we are on the losing side, we learn to trust God.


The Hebrews learned to trust God the hard way. They had been “losers” in Egypt. The Pharaoh that did not know Joseph had turned their preferential treatment into slavery. Then a loser named, Moses, came to lead them out of their slavery under the hand of God. Moses had learned the hard way, too. Yet God worked it all to their good.


The Pilgrims learned from their fiasco in Plymouth. They had attempted to make their settlement a socialistic experiment as described by some of the great ancient philosophers. However, it was a dismal failure as socialism always will be. BTW, you don’t see people breaking the laws of Venezuela to get into that country. You do see the world, including Venezuelans breeching our border, not for Socialistic control of their lives, but for freedom and free enterprise.


Pilgrim Governor William Bradford wrote in his Of Plymouth Plantation, that they failed in sharing everyone’s profits and benefits equally ‘in ye common stock,’ regardless of how hard each individual worked.[1] He said:

The failure of that experiment of communal service, which was tried for several years, and by good and honest men, proves the emptiness of the theory of Plato and other ancients, applauded by some of later times, – that the taking away of private property, and the possession of it in community, by a commonwealth, would make a state happy and flourishing; as it they were wiser than God..

He went on to describe how resentful certain groups were towards others in their colony. For instance, the younger, more capable men resented working for other men’s families without compensation. The strong resented getting the same share as the weak who were unable to work as hard. The older men thought they were being disrespected by receiving the same as the younger men. Women felt enslaved when they had to work for men other than their husbands. Socialism failed.


The colony worked on a solution. Bradford went on to explain what they did to solve the predicament:

So every family was assigned a parcel of land, according to the proportion of their number… This was very successful. It made all hands very industrious, so that much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been by any means the Governor or any other could devise, and saved him a great deal of trouble, and gave far better satisfaction. The women now went willing into the field, and took their little ones with them to plant corn, while before they would allege weakness and inability, and to have compelled them would have been thought great tyranny and oppression.


The result was a great success story for the colony. Working one’s private property made all the difference. But the Pilgrims, and then later other Americans would not have known that save for their failure. It is too bad many modern Americans don’t know our history and why Socialism cannot succeed. But, I believe, it is because of the brainwashing of our governmental education system and their removal of key points to our history.


I am sure many Americans like Bernie Sanders believe that if we embrace Socialism we will make it work. The problem is human nature is human nature. Socialism failed in the Plymouth settlement because of human nature, it has failed in every country of the world, and it WILL fail in America, too for the same reason.


You see, we cannot improve on God’s workmanship. When God orders something it is because He knows what will work because He made us to fit it. When Ananias and Sapphira lied about the sale of their property, Peter confronted Ananias in Acts 5:4 (ESV). Notice carefully to whom the property they sold belonged. He said:

While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”


Private property is biblical. Private property is healthy. Private property is satisfying. God knew it and the Pilgrims learned it through their failures. Maybe that is also human nature and that we will learn the hard way, too.


We can learn from our own failures or we can learn from the failures of others. It would be a lot easier to just learn from the failures of others. I think that may be a concise description of wisdom.


Proverbs 12:15 (ESV):

The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.


Let’s Keep The Light of Learning from Failure Burning!

[1] William J. Federer, American Quotations 2013, pp. 170-171