Earl was a half-rate minor-league second baseman who couldn’t hit to save his life and never made it to the Major Leagues.
Eager to Practice
So, one could reason, if he couldn’t make it as a minor league player, what made him think he could instruct others how to play in the Majors? If he failed at a smaller task, then why expect him to succeed at a greater one with increased responsibility?
Yet Earl Weaver, though a lackluster minor league player, proved to be a stunning Major League manager with the Baltimore Orioles—earning the fifth highest record for wins of any manager in Major League history. In his 17-year tenure he led the Orioles to 1480 wins and only 1060 losses, five one-hundred-win seasons, six American League East titles, three American League Championships, and one World Series Championship (1970).
Fails to Accomplishments
Hyrum had failed in nearly every effort to feed his family—farming, selling insurance, selling firewood, running a leather goods store. He became so financially strapped that he was forced to hock his gold watch to buy Christmas presents for his children. Obviously, a man of such limitations, who failed at so many things, probably wouldn’t amount to anything. Yet Hyrum Ulysses Grant, AKA Ulysses S. Grant, became immensely successful as the Union’s greatest strategist and commander. He is credited with saving the United States in its greatest crisis during the Civil War.
William Faulkner’s shot at being a postal worker was a disaster. But that was no indicator of his potential for better things. He became one of America’s most successful of the 20th Century. Nathaniel Hawthorne, was fired from his customs office job for incompetence. Yet he went on to much bigger and better things as America’s foremost novelist of the 19th Century.
James Whistler was booted from the Corps of Cadets at West Point after failing mathematics. Yet he went on to become one of the most celebrated artists of the 1800s—in both America and Europe.
Phillips Brooks failed miserably in his first job after graduating from college—a teacher of Latin in Boston. In fact, his supervisor told him he’d never known anyone who failed at teaching Latin to be successful at any other job in life. Yet Phillips Brooks became the most prominent pastor in all of 19th Century America. But he best known today for the Christmas song he wrote—“O Little Town of Bethlehem.”
When a tall, skinny, sickly and deeply discouraged young William Franklin told Dr. Bob Jones that he had to drop out of his Bible Institute, the elder Fundamentalist statesman had a somber prediction for him. Dr. Bob told him: “Billy, if you quit this school, you’ll never amount to anything but a backwoods Baptist preacher.” Too sick and discouraged to continue, the young man dropped out anyway. But God had a plan for young William Franklin Graham’s life (AKA Billy Graham). After recovering his health, he attended Southeastern Bible Institute in Florida and Wheaton College in Illinois, and went on to preach the gospel to more people than anyone else in the history of the church. He is credited with well over one million converts to Christ and impacting the faith of several generations.
Success comes from Failures
The point is this–just because you fail in a smaller task, does not mean you have reached your peak or that you cannot be successful in a tougher, more demanding task. Quite often early failures only indicate that we are on a quest of self-discovery. By trial and error we are determining what we are good at and what is our “niche” in life.
Unsatisfactory performance and failure at the workplace may only indicate that we are the right person in the wrong job. But there’s one thing we can be sure of. God has not put a person on this planet for whom he does not also have a plan and whom he has not also endowed with the ability to succeed in that plan. In 2 Samuel 7:8 God told King David, “I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel,” (New International Version). Competent shepherds do not follow sheep—they lead them. But God took an incompetent shepherd and made him the greatest king Israel ever had. God does that. He makes zeros into heroes.
Almighty Father, please take the raw material of my life and fashion me into a child of your own image and a person after your own heart. Amen.