Fig Leaves & Failure. Gold Medals & a Garden.

Gold Medals and a Garden

A few weeks ago I attended a one-day leadership conference led by Craig Groschel and Andy Stanley – two mega-church pastors from the US. At one point, Stanley made this statement:

“When you look at success from a birds-eye view, it’s easy to assume one or two great decisions paved the way for that success. The truth is success comes from a series of small, seemingly insignificant good decisions. Unfortunately, all the success from these small decisions can be destroyed with one or two really bad decisions.”

His statement has been on my mind all week.

In our church’s kids ministry, we covered the story of Adam and Eve not long ago. Their story reminded me of Stanley’s statement.

Adam and Eve made a series of small, but great decisions. They obeyed God. They took care of the garden. They ate the right fruit. They named the animals. They oversaw God’s creation. Day after day, week after week, month after month, they made good, solid decisions.

They were a success…until they weren’t.

Adam and Eve (together) made 2 or 3 horrible decisions. They listened to the snake. They ate the wrong fruit. They hid from God.

Their (and consequently our) perfect life was destroyed.

Fibs and Fig Leaves. Failure and Hope.

Last month, you read, watched and heard about the poor decision of American 4 swimmers. Up until the news broke, all we could talk about was their gold plated success. After weeks, months and years of small but great decisions (practice after practice, meet after meet, denial after denial), two or three bad decisions destroyed all the success they found.

So I found myself asking this question,

How do I keep myself from making those two or three ill-fated decisions?

Interestingly enough, I found the answer from the same place blasting the results of poor decision making – the US Olympic team.

Maybe you saw the story?

Abbey D’agostino is an American distance runner from Massachusetts. During her preliminary race, she tangled legs with Nikki Hamblin, a runner from New Zealand. Both Abbey and Nikki tumbled to the ground, left in the dust by the pack.

abbey d'agostino on


Abbey immediately popped up, while Nikki laid on the ground in obvious (emotional) pain – her dream was likely over.

Abbey, a devout Catholic, later told reporters she went to Rio with a feeling, a sense of purpose, beyond running. She didn’t know what it was, but she knew she was called to higher things.

When Abbey popped up, saw Nikki lying on the ground, she knew her purpose. Abbey turned to Nikki, bent down, and helped her up. Together they started the race again. They finished the final 4 laps (1 mile) knowing they weren’t quitters.

It was soon discovered that Abbey had blown out her knee (a torn ACL), she finished the race in pain, her 2016 Olympic experience over.

But not a failure.

How do we finish strong?

Because of a purpose from God, Abbey continued to make small, but important decisions that resulted in the exact opposite response from the 4 swimmers. Media around the world praised her, also also forced to report her praise and glory for God.

What is your purpose?

You were created to create. This is purpose.

Your purpose keeps you from disaster. What is your purpose? Click To Tweet

Your purpose challenges you to continue to make small but vital good decisions. It keeps you from disaster. It points to God.

What is your purpose?

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