Today, when I went to pick up the results of my four ordination exams, I found out that I passed two of them, and did not pass two of them (I thought this was a funny and gentle way of saying that I failed). My first instinct was disappointment, because I was going to have to take two of them again. However, my biggest disappointment was that I will never be able to say that I passed them all on my first try, I will never have a perfect record.
A sad thing about this experience is that I was so disappointed that I was not able to truly accept a friend’s congratulatory remarks. While I should not gloss over the fact that I should strive for perfection, I also need to be able to appreciate the good news that I passed two of the exams. It really is just a matter of perspective. If I were a hitter in baseball I would be the greatest of all time if I hit 0.500.
However, I looked at it from the perspective of a basketball player shooting free throws. 50% is Shaq territory; awful! This is why I focused upon the tests that I didn’t pass. However, there is a good lesson that can come out of this. I need to humble myself, and prepare differently for the exams that I didn’t pass. When Shaquile O’Neal, a horrendous free throw shooter, played for the Lakers he was encouraged to work on his free throws, and he reached out to one of the best free throw shooters in the history of the NBA, Rick Barry, to help him with his free throws.
As seen below, Rick Barry had an unorthodox way of shooting free throws. Shaq had set up a meeting with Rick Barry to possibly changing the way he shot free throws to the between the legs version of the free throw shot. Unfortunately, this meeting got cancelled, because, as rumor has it, Shaq’s publicist told him this would hurt his image, and thus they idea was jettisoned.
However, I cannot worry about my image in failing, and studying extra hard for the next time around, but rather I must humble myself to working on and continuing to drive into my head the things that I may think I have fully understood. I can’t be above doing the things that will help me succeed in the future. Which, to some extent is a microcosm of our relationship with God. Sometimes it takes doing the “weird” or “different” thing to really explode with success in ministry, as it is most of our greatest successes come from the lessons learned during our greatest failures.
Not that this is my greatest failure, but I must understand that there is a lesson here to learn. I must not allow the failure to rule me, but I must yield to the process and to the power of the Holy Spirit constantly at work in our communities, places of employment, and homes. My focus must not stray from God! I think this is a major struggle many of us have when we get disappointing news.
Also while I am not currently perfect, I strive after holiness, and the power of the Holy Spirit working within, and thus am continually in the process of being sanctified. Thanks be to God!