A Life Defined by Failure and Misstakes

Failure has seven letters; one for each of my literary rejections.

During the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission to the moon in 1970, Flight Director Gene Kranz famously announced, “Failure is not an option.”

Don’t we like to wish it never is?

And yet failure has been my companion. Failure has defined and refined my life and faith.

I am divorced. Personal failure.

I never found a publisher for the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh novels I have written*. Failure has seven letters; one for each of my literary rejections.

I was forced from a job by a fellow pastor who casually and cunningly lied about my situation. Professional failure. Continue reading →

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Jesus Is Getting A Good Deal

Luke 9:51-62  – The 6th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for Sunday, June 30, 2013

“As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go…’” (Luke 9:57)

And I still can’t imagine following any other path.
And I still can’t imagine following any other path.

In 2007, when I left the church I’d served for nearly nine years, I usually mentioned two reasons for waving “good-bye.”

First, I was spending less and less time with my wife.

Yes, we loved and supported each other. In a typical year, we took vacations, worked on home and yard projects and regularly shared about the day’s events. But an average week meant I was gone for three, four and even more nights in a row—gotta love church meetings! Funerals or weddings occupied many Saturdays. Sundays, which felt like they arrived every other day, saw me depart early and return late to either collapse into a loooong nap or prepare for the next commitment. My wife teaches and so Christmas and Easter were her winter and spring breaks. Not me . . . O Little Town of Bethlehem, Christ is Risen Today!

Paul Dirdak, a clergy colleague in my California-Nevada United Methodist region, once told a curious layperson how busy his day had been. Paul listed the sermons he’d preached, the amount of travel time between multiple meetings at different locations, the phone calls made and received and so forth.

When Paul took a breath, the layperson said, “Well, young fella, I guess Jesus is getting’ a good deal with you today.”

Yeah . . . sometimes it seemed like Jesus always got a good deal with my time, energy, commitment, faith; my day-to-day, week-to-week, Advent-to-Easter-to-Advent world.

Writing was the second reason for my fond farewell.

The seventy plus hours of weekly work consumed all available time for writing. Though I may forever be a pre-published, post-pubescent novelist, I want and need to write. I believe filling in a blank computer screen with sentences represents part of my call to sharing the good news. For the sake of argument, let’s say writing is like a favorite dessert at the church potluck. Church had become a herd of hungry kids just ahead of me in the serving line. By the time I arrived at the desserts section, the homemade cookies and fresh apple cobbler had vanished into teenaged tummies. All that remained was a fork-poked slice of store-bought coconut crème pie. I can’t stand coconut.

There was a third reason for limping away from full-time church. I don’t often mention it; it’s mostly kept in my soul’s secret place. Continue reading →

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