Humble Success or Proud Failure

"You can have a humble success, or a proud failure." - Scott Bruegman, Staff Pastor of Red Rocks Church

In my 27 years of life no singular phrase has echoed across my brain more than that phrase. I remember sitting in the office of my campus pastor/boss during my internship at Red Rocks Church in hopes of impressing him with my “eagerness” to learn and be taught. I wouldn't say that it was completely an act. I had a ton of respect for the church God had allowed him and his friends to start and pastor. I would say that it was more half hearted. I did want to learn from him, but I also wanted to secretly impress him with insight and wisdom I had picked up in my few short years in ministry. How often has that ever worked out?

If i’m being honest I don’t remember much of that conversation. There was one phrase he said to me about 20 minutes into our hour long meeting that struck my heart with such a gracious conviction that I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt God had just spoken to me. “You can have a humble success, or a proud failure.” As I walked out his door and back to my office I wrestled with the conviction of knowing exactly where God was asking me to let go, and trying desperately to convince myself that holding on to my selfish ambition was a noble thing. It was painful. It was scary. It was humbling. And to this point in my life, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

I have always been interested in starting things. As a kid I would play Madden or NBA2K and love to do franchises and barter, draft, and trade to create the right team at the right price that could make a run at a fictional championship. Once I felt a call from God to dedicate my life for His Kingdom, that same ambition carried over. I remember sitting in the Tattered Cover bookstore in early 2012, reading Sun Stand Stillby Steven Furtick when I felt a strong desire to start a church. I had tossed the idea around in my head before, but this time I knew it was something God was etching in the DNA of my heart. It was what most people would call a “God Dream.” Funny thing about “God Dreams” is that it takes GOD to make them work. God’s not handing you the reins and letting you loose. It’s God’s Dream for you, for His glory, with His people, for His purpose, during His timing.

I scheduled that meeting in hopes of having my pastor affirm the call that God had given me and that Ihad ran with. I hoped he would applaud me for wanting to take off on my own, start a church like no one’s ever seen before, reach 100,000 new believers, preach gospel centered messages, etc. What I got was the most loving and grace filled caution I’ve ever received: “You can have a humble success, or a proud failure.” It’s hard to explain what that phrase did to me in that moment. The best way I can put it is that it slowly began opening the tightly closed fists I had made, holding on to my version of God’s dream for me. It chipped away at the idol I had made of pastoring and church planting, and reminded me about who had called me to this in the first place. My version of God’s dreams slowly died, and now God’s dreams are beginning taking hold of my heart.

That message wasn’t just spoken to me, but it was lived out through the life of my pastor. He has an amazing story and with his permission one day I’ll share it. But here’s the point. So often God etches a purpose into the DNA of our heart and then we mold it into whatever we want it to be. We come to God with open hands in hopes to receive something good from Him, but then refuse to let Him shape it and form it into exactly what He want’s it to be.

The posture of open hands is twofold. One is to receive, and the other is to let go. We think that we are blessed most when God is giving us something. We kneel in prayer with our hands stretched high, palms toward the ceiling in hopes of receiving. But I think the more powerful posture is to kneel in prayer with our hands stretched high, palms toward the ceiling saying, “God whatever you’ve given me is Yours. Take it and do with it whatever you please.”

If you’re reading this, more than likely God has given you a dream. And with that dream comes two options: humble success or proud failure. Throughout your life you will be tempted to take a road leading to a proud failure. A road where you mold and shape your dream in a way that you will receive the most recognition and praise for your talents and gifts. But, if you’re one of those who can take the road of humble success, you’ll see God do more with the dream He’s put inside of you than you could ever have imagined.