Looking at successful people and companies, it's sometimes easy to get discouraged. It's easy to think that some people are just lucky and that we could never achieve what they have. What we don't see is the hard work and failure that most of these people and companies have endured. Kentucky Fried Chicken and Colonel Sanders are synonymous for their fried chicken recipe, but it wasn't until the Colonel was 62 that he was able to sell the recipe that made him a success. In fact, it was the 1,010th prospective buyer that actually bought it. Had Sanders given up after even a thousand no's, he would have never achieved success. Similar stories are the ones of the game company Rovio who made the highly successful game Angry Birds. It was their 52nd game and they were on the verge of bankruptcy when they had their break. Or Walt Disney who was fired from a Missouri newspaper for not being creative enough and went bankrupt within two years of founding his first animation studio. Or even Steve Jobs and Apple who both experienced failure before making the biggest come back in history. But it was Jobs who said years later: "I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me."
You know, it's easy to look at other Christians or giants of faith in the past or present and see only their successes as well. We think about how strong their connection with God is and that they are so blessed to have such perfect lives. But what we don't see is the pain, the struggle, the failures, the doubt that these people deal with. And then there are plenty of people who just pretend that everything's alright. Maybe they know that they can't achieve any of this on their own so they fake it, hoping no one will notice. Jesus told the story of such a person. It was a religious leader who acted as if everything was good and was proud of his religion. But there was another character in the story - a known sinner who had reached rock bottom. Someone who knew he couldn't do it but embraced failure as an opportunity to allow God to do something different in him. Jesus ended the story by saying, "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:14). Everyone fails. Everyone makes mistakes. Don't try to hide it and pretend everything's alright. Admit your failure, humble yourself, and see the failure as an opportunity for God to transform you.