The Herd and Failure

I like Colin Cowherd on ESPN radio. Nothing new. I’ve talked about him before here on this blog. My local sports radio station used to carry his entire show from 9 AM to 1 PM, and I almost always at least had it on in the background. Then they recently, for reasons I don’t understand, replaced his show with Dan Patrick. Patrick is good but not nearly as good as Cowherd. Cowherd is more philosophical and ties life lessons to sports almost daily. Patrick is more of a jokester and tries to be too cute. So I downloaded the ESPN radio iPhone app and can listen to The Herd, Colin’s show, in its entirety. I’m sure my local station doesn’t like this, but I don’t want to listen to Dan Patrick. I want Cowherd.

Today was one of those days when Colin said something very valuable to not just sport but life. He talked about failure. His quote: “Everyone who succeeds has failed.” Man is that ever true. He expanded on that to say that if someone is not willing to admit to you that they have succeeded without failure, they are lying. And he’s not talking about little mix ups. He’s talking about near catastrophic failure and listed several individuals to back up what he was saying. Bankruptcies, divorces, prison time, major injury, etc. Devastating failure. If you plan to succeed, you better expect major failure along the way, because if you don’t fail, you also won’t succeed.

So why don’t we see our faith’s this way? Why do we always talk about reaching some level of perfection or “sanctification?” Does that even make any sense with what we know about what it takes to grow and improve? I hesitate to use the word “success” when it comes to faith and belief, partly because I myself am trying to get away from the notion that it’s all about a set of rules. “Success” can very quickly turn into needing to earn something. Probably a better idea of success in faith (and maybe this is only pertinent to the Christian view) is when we realize and are truly comfortable with the idea that we don’t have to do anything to earn anything. Accepting grace is success. And the road to that place involves failure.

And God has to know that. He set the system up for crying out loud. The world works that way. Everything in it works that way. Before there is success there is failure. Always. No way to get around it. And then sometimes there’s even more failure. It just works that way.

What does that say about this fear of hell that is so prevalent in Christianity? I would like to say that I am beyond this fear of hell. But I’m not. I think I’m getting over it bit by bit by bit by tiny little bit. But I’m far from being beyond it. It almost feels like I’ve been traumatized in some way. Not sure where that comes from.

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11 responses to “The Herd and Failure

  1. “Before there is success there is failure. Always. No way to get around it. And then sometimes there’s even more failure. It just works that way.” (Doug)

    I think faith is supposed to work that way in all honesty – just stupid institutions control it so rigidly they leave little room for mistakes…which lead to growth.

    I find in the concept of repentance the leniency to make some mistakes – or that it’s practically inevitable in some ways. The idea of change means we need something to change from and into…and this really is try, test, and learn process. Grace/mercy provides rooms for mistakes to be made – we’re human after all.

    My hope is more churches start thinking about this and make more room for grace towards people in their congregations – and help them along in struggles and not just give them the ‘rules’. Some of the bigger mistakes provide some of the best learning via experience.

    “What does that say about this fear of hell that is so prevalent in Christianity?” (Doug)

    I think the fear is absolutely unfounded and traumatic (as you mention). If God is loving and merciful, as many of the teachings point towards, and Jesus came to teach us a better way…and the disciples made mistake after mistake while they walked with Jesus…I am betting there is more grace for mistakes than we let on or realize. It’s not grace to continue in behavior that hurts people – but grace enough to know that if we do we have the freedom to make things right by choice also.

    Hell, to me, is a misinformed term. It gets presented as some fiery pit where people burn for eternity. That’s really a Greco-Roman viewpoint and addition about the terminology of ‘sheol’ from the Tanakh. I think the original idea is people so wicked deserved such punishment – that did not recieve their just dues in this life (and we all feel that way in some regards about some historical figures).

    But it’s an additional idea to the ideas within Judaism around sheol…which was only an abode of the dead awaiting resurrection. Then God would judge the living and the dead based on their lives. I think it’s at this point hell got added in – were it never existed prior. I think people were resurrected to life prior to that and death was just death.

  2. I know where it comes from. It comes from having the HELL scared out of you!!!

  3. yeah man, right on! great post.

    i can’t imagine the crap you must have heard grow’n up and also attending these types of churches. i heard of stereotypical churches like this, but never experienced one in the real. well, i might have for a service and then split! i’m just now coming to a small understanding of your painful past and your struggle to get to a new way.

    keep on man. RAWK!

  4. “i heard of stereotypical churches like this, but never experienced one in the real” (Luke)

    I would say this is a good 1/4 of the Christian experience planet wide – conservative Evangelical type churches (maybe even higher – they do a lot of missionary work in these churches).

  5. The Scripture that came to mind for me is Romans 8:1. “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And James 3:2 says, “We all stumble in many ways.” And James 2:8 says, “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.”

    I just read a great chapter today in Brennan Manning’s book, The Relentless Tenderness of Jesus. There’s just no better writer about God’s love for us and our freedom in that love.

    Our spiritual journey is an imperfect one but the desire to know God keeps us in the good direction.

  6. Our spiritual journey is an imperfect one but the desire to know God keeps us in the good direction.(Larry)

    In my opinion Christianity will rise or fall on how good you do this scripture. Journey to a G-d can only been seen through this lense. Anything else is just hyperbole.

    ” ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.”

  7. I would just add that Scripture says, “Love comes from God.” That puts him as the source. So I would think the only way to love our neighbor as ourself would be to love God first and be receiving love from him. To me, love is life.

  8. I like what everybody is saying here. I think the hell thing has been blown way out of perspective. Christ did not treat anyone like they were going to hell. He offered grace to everyone. I think I have trouble reconciling that with the wrath that seems to exist in the OT.

  9. “I think I have trouble reconciling that with the wrath that seems to exist in the OT.” (Doug)

    Key thing to remember in all of that is – humans wrote as inspired by God…key part ‘humans’. You have to be able to take some of the writings of the bible with a grain of salt as they spoke from their generation – and their understandings – which were limited like ours.

    It’s like when someone says ‘God is on America’s side in the war on terror’. People may truly 100% believe a sentence like that – since that how it ‘feels’ to them based on what limited knowledge they have ingested. Reality of the situation is much more deep when viewed from all possible angles available on the subject.

  10. “I would just add that Scripture says, “Love comes from God.” That puts him as the source” (Larry)

    Then I would further add – love is not limited to Christians – since love is felt in most and all possible cultures and religions on this planet.

  11. Douglas and Karmen Lewis

    Great points and things that I know but fail to keep in mind as often as I should. I didn’t grow up understanding the bible with the culture of the writers in mind so much so it’s hard to keep it present now. Thanks for the reminder.

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