Yesterday morning, my family and I set out for a day of fun and adventure, the first stop of which was supposed to be Build-a-Bear Workshops to take advantage of a promotion we had heard about a few days prior. It was a “pay your age” promotion in which kids could get a stuffed critter for merely the price of their age and for a family of our size this promised to be a deal that was just too good to pass up. Apparently we were not the only ones to think so, because before US stores even opened the Build-a-Bear Workshops corporate offices had to issue a statement apologizing that they would be limiting the promotion because of unexpected turn out. Well before noon, they issued another statement essentially shutting the whole thing down. Personally, I was relieved to not have to stand in line all morning. My kids were disappointed, but kids are resilient and easily bought off with Chic-Fil-A and ice cream so it was kind of a win – win for me. Not so much for Build-a-Bear though as they found themselves the rare victim of an idea that was so successful it became a complete and total failure.
Ordinarily, it takes a pretty slow news day for something like this episode to make much of an impact, but I find myself continuing to think about it because of two important questions that it raises in my own mind. While you may have no concern whatsoever with Build-a-Bear or its failed promotion, I think it will serve you well to contemplate these two questions.
Am I prepared to deal with the consequences of my actions?
Everything we do has consequences and some of those consequences are more predictable than others. It is good practice to think through any decision and try to determine some of the potential consequences you may face and be sure you are prepared to deal with it. Life is filled with unexpected consequences, but many of the consequences we face on a daily basis are totally predictable. For instance, you may not be able to predict being in an accident on your drive home, but you certainly can predict that if you are driving while intoxicated you have increased your odds of an accident.
I believe that each of us as individuals is responsible for the consequences of our actions and that it is wise to consider ahead of time whether or not you really want to face those consequences. This is exactly the type of thinking I try to teach my children on a regular basis. I frequently tell them something to this effect: “I cannot make you be kind to your sister, but if you are unkind this is the consequence that you are choosing for yourself. If you choose this consequence, you are doing it to yourself and you cannot be upset with me. Got it?” They always agree and they still usually get upset when they face their consequence, but we are attempting to help them grasp at a young age something that many adults still don’t understand – they are responsible for their actions!
What if I succeed?
Consider what it is that you are currently investing yourself in as it relates to your time, energy and finances. What are you trying to succeed at? Are you trying to get a business off the ground? Are you trying to save up to by a home? Are you trying to finish college? Or maybe you’re just trying to get your kid to stop eating day old toast that got forgotten under the table. It doesn’t matter; we all have something that we are trying to accomplish. We have endeavor, be it big or small, at which we are trying to succeed. Often times we consider the possibility of failing at those endeavors, but I challenge you to consider the possibility of succeeding. What impact will success have on you? What impact will it have on others? Will it make a difference for eternity? I am totally fascinated by the fact that what went wrong with Build-a-Bear’s promotion is simply that it went so right. It was a tremendous success. Everyone loved it. It was great. Until it wasn’t.
I just wonder if there are things in my life and yours that we want so badly that we do not see the potential negative outcomes of success. Do you get that promotion and lose your family? Do you build that house and lose everything because you can’t afford it? Do you raise perfectly well-mannered children who feel unloved by you because all you cared about was stuff and rules? I once heard a man say that his greatest fear was not that he would fail, but that he would succeed at things that didn’t matter. This challenges me to constantly evaluate my life and my goals to make sure that I am pursuing things that are actually important.
Seek first the kingdom!
We can never predict all of the consequences we might face and we should never live in fear of either success or failure, so how do I live a life that is both fulfilling and honoring to God? I think the answer lies in Matthew 6:33 where Jesus says that we are to “seek first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added to you.” “All these things” is the stuff of daily life mentioned in the previous verses. For a Jesus follower, the priority of your life should be God’s kingdom. That means you put God first and pursue His will and plan. If you make that the aim of every decision, every goal, every action that you take, then He will take care of everything else. He will guide your steps and enable you to have the best possible version of your life!