No doubt there are many phrases regularly quoted in your home.
“If it’s not yours, don’t touch it.”
“Think before you speak.”
“It’s not done until it’s down right.”
One of the concepts repeatedly quoted in my ministry is:
“If your philosophy doesn’t work 100% of the time, you need a new philosophy.”
I spend a lot of time fleshing out the concept of “Failure Philosophies” with the boys I work with at Victory Academy, and I’d like to take a moment to do the same for you.
What is a Failure Philosophy?
- Failure – As the name implies, this philosophy is doomed to failure. It may currently be failing (and often is), or it’s guaranteed to fail sometime in the future.
- Philosophy – this word basically means “why you do what you do.” It’s your motivation for your behavior. It’s the same as a worldview or belief system.
“A Failure Philosophy is a belief system bound to destroy you.”
Let me give you an example: The Bible tells us that
“The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’”
This belief affects everything the fool does. How he relates to people, how he works, how he eats, and how we vacations are motivated – in part – by the faulty philosophy that God doesn’t exist. And because of this worldview, the fools is likely to experience the following failures:
- Present Failure: If we live any facet of our life rejecting God’s existence and authority, we’ll regularly fail. Proverbs tells us his work fails, his relationships fail, his money management fails . . . everything fails. Even if he experiences worldly “success” in these endeavors, God informs us that even the daily exploits of the unsaved are sin (Proverbs 21:4) because they’re fundamentally hostile to God and aren’t capable of pleasing Him (Romans 8:7-8).
- Future Failure: If he continues believing the lie that God doesn’t exist, not only will he continue to fail in the future as he does now, but one day he’ll experience the ultimate destruction – eternity in Hell.
His philosophy will have infinitely failed him.
So, how do we spot these Failure Philosophies in our lives and the lives of our family members?
Here are three Failure Philosophies to look out for:
Inconsistent philosophies affect how I treat other people in relation to other people. If all things are equal, I should be treating all people equally.
- Of course, we all realize the subjectivity inherent in life. Staff members at Victory Academy for Boys are allowed to have mobile phones, but the students are not. This is not inconsistent because the boys and the staff aren’t functioning with the same level of responsibility.
- But what if I were not allowed to have a mobile, but a fellow staff member were? This would likely be a sign of inconsistency if the rule were inappropriately applied.
- However, I may have earned that discrimination had I neglected my work responsibilities due to YouTube!
- You may have to treat your children differently, but you need a solid, logical, biblical reason to do so.
- The key is to intentionally question why you do what you do (philosophy). If you find yourself treating one of your coworkers better than the other simply because you prefer one over the other . . . you’re destined for failure.
In order to help others with their inconsistent Failure Philosophies, you will need to:
- Ask Questions – Due to the subjective nature of this concept, you must ask questions to be sure you understand the other person’s motivation. It may seem inconsistent to you that your child treats your spouse different than she treats you. But when you start asking questions, you may find your child has to walk on eggshells around your spouse, whereas they feel freer to speak their minds around you.
- Be Logical – Why should your boss treat their employees the same? Why should your children treat all their school subjects the same? Should they? We need to be sure our own philosophies are valid before we explain how someone else’s aren’t.
- Know Truth – Our opinions carry very little weight; and that’s okay! Only God’s Truth stands the test of time. Try as hard as possible to ground your philosophy on His Word and teach others to do the same.
Hypocritical philosophies affect how I treat other people in relation to how I want other people treating me. If all things are equal, I should treat people the same way I want them treating me.
- Imagine Person A says something unkind to Person B, so Person B hits Person A.
- When I ask “B” why he hit “A,” I always hear something akin to “Well, he . . . .” followed by an engaging story filled with the awful things the other person did.
- So, I ask, “You thought it was okay to hit him for saying something unkind to you?” Often, the person will answer, “Yes.”
- So, then I ask, “Then what does he get to do to you because you hit him? If you get to hit him in the arm because he spoke words you don’t like, then does he get to kick you in the face because you hit him in the arm? And then what do you get to do to him? How about burning all his clothes? But then, because you burned all his clothes – if we’re going to use your philosophy of life – I suppose it’s okay for him to kill your dog.”
- It doesn’t take too much of this for him to see that he doesn’t want the other guy using his own reasoning against him. He also quickly sees that there’s no end to such conflicts. If we really live that way, everyone would be dead!
- But what about us? How many times do we justify doing wrong because, “I’m the parent” or “I’m the boss” or “I’m smarter/older/better looking“? It’s okay for us to raise our voices when we don’t like what’s going on? It’s okay for us to swear, drink, smoke? It’s okay for us to watch movies we wouldn’t let our sons watch? It’s okay for us to act emotionally? It’s okay to sneak snacks? Misuse God’s Word to get what we want? Speed? Doze off in church? Be lazy? Forget to do something you promised you were going to do?
- You see, if we’re honest with ourselves, if “what’s good for the goose isn’t good the gander” then you may be living a Failure Philosophy.
- Of course, there are plenty of instances where subjectivity sneaks into this category as well. I’m allowed to drive a car; my seven year old isn’t. It’s okay for me to have a phone that I use to glorify God even though my porn-watching teen isn’t allowed to have one.
- The key is not to excuse sin in our lives as we condemn it in others.
In order to help others with their hypocritical Failure Philosophies, you will need to:
- Ask Questions – Once again, explore the situation with a desire to truly understand why they’re doing what they’re doing (philosophy). You may find they have no idea why they do it and are acting out of pure emotion, or you may find they had very solid reasons for treating others differently than they want to be treated.
- Be Logical – Jesus frequently used parables and illustrations to help people see the error of their ways.
- When Nathan the prophet confronted David concerning his adultery with Bathsheba, he told him a story about a man who’d stolen another man’s beloved sheep. David was enraged and demanded that the thief be executed! All Nathan had to say then was, “You are the man.”
- I like to paint a simple illustration for people where I turn the tables on them. I may ask a father, “Why did you yell at your son?” Most of the time the honest answer is “Because I was frustrated.” So I ask, “Is it appropriate for him to yell at you for the same reason?”
- You see, it doesn’t matter that I’m dad. To think it’s okay for me to get aggravated because someone inconveniences me, but to tell my children not to be annoyed when their siblings inconvenience them is hypocritical.
- Know Truth – God commands us at every turn to love, prefer above ourselves, serve, honor, submit to, and respect others. It’s very easy to apply the Bible when people are being hypocritical because not only is the sinful behavior addressed, but hypocrisy itself is frequently condemned in Scripture.
Delusional philosophies affect how I respond to God’s Absolute Truth. If all things are as God says they are, I need to trust His Word.
- It doesn’t matter how good you feel about it, how “well” it worked in the past, or how planned out it is, the idea that it’s okay for me to steal is a Failure Philosophy because God has clearly outlined why stealing is wrong.
- For the same reason, laziness at work, provocative parenting, gluttony, worry, gossip, lust, and unkind speech are also wrong. And participating in those things show that we’re delusional enough to think we can sin and not be held accountable!
- This category includes both the Inconsistent and Hypocritical Philosophies. If I’m being inconsistent or hypocritical, I’m deluded if I think life will work.
- Do we think it’s okay to “follow our hearts?” Does it glorify God to eat whatever we want whenever we want? Does God have limits on how and for what we spend our money? Is it okay to be a “Closet Christian?” Is church attendance really optional? Is Darwinian evolution a Christ-honoring belief? Is it unimportant to what kind of music we listen?
In order to help others with their delusional Failure Philosophies, you will need to:
- Ask Questions – One question I love to ask is, “Can you support your life choice using the Bible?” They may try, but legitimate exegesis prevents all Failure Philosophies from being supported by Scripture.
- Be Logical – This concept takes on a very different hue when applied to delusional philosophies.
- 100% of atheists believe they’re being logical to deny the existence of God. But true logic is God’s logic. This particular application of logic will have to be firmly and consistently grounded in the Bible or it’ll easily go astray.
- Here’s an example: Merriam-Webster calls logic “a particular mode of reasoning viewed as valid or faulty.” The world says it’s logical to conclude that to love is to tolerate because when people accept each other the way they are and ignore their differences, relationships can flourish without negativity and conflict. But according to God’s Word, that’s a Failure Philosophy because to truly love someone means seeking God’s best interest for them. God desires all people to reject their self-worship and embrace Him. Which then is the “logical” conclusion?
- Logic itself is dependent on what you believe is valid and faulty – your philosophy. In a universe where God doesn’t exist, it may be logical to tolerate disagreeable behaviors in others as long as they aren’t hurting me. But it’s delusional to live like God doesn’t exist in a universe where He does – therefore we must seek biblically-informed logic. So we must turn to His Word for His logic.
- Know Truth – We can’t live God’s Word if we don’t believe God’s Word. We can’t believe God’s Word unless we know God’s Word. We have to Love It, Learn It, and Live It! We can’t help others do this if we aren’t doing it ourselves. We must be going the same direction we’re leading.
I hope this has been beneficial for you. This is an idea we’ll have to revisit with ourselves, our spouses, our children, our friends, our coworkers, and our strangers all the time.
It’s the foundation of evangelism and discipleship. It’s the core of our relationship with God – will I choose to believe what He says or reject His Truth?
We must embrace God’s Perfect Philosophy if we hope to be successful in any area of life!