Attempt anything of importance and the critics come out the woodwork. This is why this post is for all those who are attempting to do great things for their families, friends, society, church and God. Life is made up of two kinds of people – those who do and therefore accomplish stated goals and those who watch and criticize those who attempt to reach those stated goals. In other words, I am continually amazed how most people simply wait and watch for those who take risks to fail and fall in their endeavors to achieve and accomplish great things.
Too often, the lazy, unlearned, uninvolved, passive and critical majority – those who fail to take risks for fear of failure – salivate at the thought of the ‘attempters’ actually trying and failing. The end result is that people in places of leadership, influence and opportunity live with constant criticism. They live under the pronounced sentence of the 'do nothings' that the attempters are arrogant, prideful and inconsiderate; under the cloud of accusation of 'who gave them the right to try, to change things, to create new things.'
For the ‘attempters,’ those who dare to do something with the life God has given them, I refer you to a speech of one of my heroes given at the Sorbonne, Paris, France, April 23, 1910. The hero is President Teddy Roosevelt and the speech was entitled “The Man in the Arena: Citizenship in a Republic.” Roosevelt makes the following statement that ought to give every risk-taker, leader and ‘attempter’ hope and courage:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the
end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
So, to the watchers and the criticizers I say – stand on the sidelines, gawk and stare, point the finger and say, “See, I told you so, he/she never should have tried!” I say to you that you will never know the agony of defeat or the ecstasy of victory!
But to the ‘attempters’ - teachers, leaders, politicians, public officials, company creators, inventors - I say try, work, engage, fail with flare and succeed with grace. As the great ‘attempter’ (the Apostle Paul) once wrote in Philippians 3:12-15 (ESV): “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own (I have a goal), because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own (I live in humility). But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind (failures and successes), I press on (I will not be passive) toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way (and the implication is that the immature and unengaged will think differently), and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let is hold true to what we have attained.”
When people ask me, ‘Kevin, why are you involved in so many different things? Aren’t you too busy, tired or afraid? What if you fail? How can you constantly put yourself out there?’ My answer is always, ‘I believe that all of life must come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ – all of it, i.e. eating, sleeping, preaching, teaching, coaching, loving, parenting, pastoring, hiking, investing, etc. I also believe that I have but one life to live. So, I will take every moment, every opportunity and every event and make it an opportunity to glorify God and influence the world in kingdom ways. If I fail, I fail trying; if I succeed, I do so by God’s grace. Failing or succeeding, I am living, breathing, risking, engaging, filled, and being fulfilled, and loving every moment.’