As I desire to inspire and challenge our readers, I want to share with you the remarkable thoughts of a wise man, one of the greatest mystics of the 20th century. I am talking about Aiden Wilson Tozer. I call this post A W Tozer on Failure. Your first thought may just be ‘Tozer who?’ First let me tell you a little about A. W. Tozer.
A. W. Tozer was born on April 21, 1897 in Newburg, Pennsylvania. He was a poor farm boy who received only a one-room country school education. At the age of 15 he became a disciple of Jesus Christ. Due to his impoverished home life, Tozer was forced to forego a formal education. Remarkably, he had no high school nor college education. He entered the ministry as a lay preacher. His strength and training came from his incredible lifelong practice of waiting on God. From 1919 until his death in 1963, A. W. Tozer served as a minister with the Christian Missionary & Alliance in West Virginia, Toledo, Indianapolis, Chicago, and Toronto. He served 31 years at the Southside Alliance Church in Chicago, Illinois. Over his lifetime, he received 2 honorary doctorates for his pastoral efforts. From 1950 to 1963 he served as the chief editor for the Alliance Witness magazine. For years, he spoke on Moody Bible Institute’s WMBI radio station hosting a program entitled Talks from a Pastor’s Study. His literary works eventually spanned the globe in outreach. He wrote 30 books. His books The Pursuit of God and The Knowledge of the Holy became Christian classics sold worldwide, translated into many languages. He died in Toronto, Canada on May 12, 1963.
Tozer’s fundamental spiritual concern was the promotion and proclamation of what he called personal heart religion. His many writings, books, and speeches reflect this focused commitment. As A. W. Tozer himself stated, his primary objective was to write and preach for ‘the plain persons whose hearts stir them up to seek after God for himself.’ I like to say that Tozer’s works literally divide spiritual bone from marrow. If you read his The Pursuit of God you will see what I mean.
Why the Post?
Quite simply, I believe that America is losing its way. Materialism has taken the main stage in the lives of many. Worse, we have become a people centered on hatred and judgement. The backbiting and national in-fighting of our people during and after the last Presidential election are evidence of this mindset. We become alienated and angry when others do not hold to our personal beliefs. In essence, some believe ‘If you are not with me then you are dead to me.’ I like to say that we have become the largest nation of cannibals. We are eating each other alive! Worse, I have noticed a disturbing trend, probably as a result of economic forces. The works and efforts of many devoted people are being lost in our nation’s dust. Let me ask you something, before reading this post, did you know who A. W. Tozer was? My hope and wish is that we refocus and regroup as a nation. And so, the post.
Derived from one of Tozer’s sermons, the following excerpt is a great example of his practical focus on life. This speech oozes wisdom. Whether you are a Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. this talk reveals simple, tremendous, practical knowledge. I refer to it as Tozer on Failure. I dare you to read it! My hope is that it will challenge & inspire you in your daily life. If you like, you can skip to the end of this post and listen to the actual sermon (22m58s in length). And so I give you A W Tozer on Failure.
A Defeated Spirit Easily Gives In to Discouragement1
There is danger in a defeated spirit in the Christian life, for it can plunge us into discouragement. It can take out of our spirits hope and optimism and drive.
Discouragement, incidentally, is hardly a sin. But, it can lead to any number of sins, for to discourage is to dishearten. We go to church, but we don’t care for the church. Nothing means anything to us. Hymns are dull and tasteless and the sermon is a bore. We have lost our appetite for spiritual things.
Now, the danger of defeat is that it will bring defeatism.
It is never a disgrace to lose, but it is questionable to allow your loss to give you a psychology of defeat.
I want to give you some rules for the time of discouragement. Perhaps your Sunday school class has gotten smaller and smaller. Your prayers, seemingly, are not being answered. Someone has suggested in a round-about way that you are not all that you have thought yourself to be in certain fields. So, you are discouraged and downhearted and defeated.
First, do not accept the judgment of your own heart about the matter. A discouraged heart will always go astray, so don’t think about yourself the way you feel about yourself.
Instead, go to God and Christ. God loves you, and Christ loves you enough to have died for you. He thought you were worth something. Remember that discouraged Gideon was hiding until God sought him out and said, ‘Get up, thou mighty man of God!’ It was shock to Gideon, but he got up and accepted God’s judgment of him, and he went out and put the Midianites to ignominious flight.
The second rule is this: make no important decisions while you are discouraged. This is serious. Never say Yes or No to anything while you are discouraged. Don’t resign your job. Don’t sell your property. Get down before God and get straightened out. Ask God to roll the clouds away and take the defeat out of your spirit, and the reverses out of your heart.
Now, third, remember that failure doesn’t make you any less dear to God. I am so glad that God doesn’t look at our bank balance to know how much to love us.
The fact that you have failed in some way in life doesn’t affect God’s love for you at all. Neither does it affect His promises.
The fourth thing: Go to the Bible and read the promises of God. Read the promises until your heart begins to leap with the joy of the promises.
Remember that the living God is everything. Not success, not victory- but God. Not winning, not losing- but God.
My victory can’t enrich God and my defeat cannot impoverish God. If I make good, I bring God nothing. If I have failures, I rob God of nothing, if my heart is honest and I’m right.
You know, I don’t have this long face for nothing. I’m a born pessimist. I can see the dark side of the fleeciest cloud that floats in the blue sky above.
But I have trained myself by the Word of God and prayer never to look that way at things. Take God’s side, and the resurrection side, and the victory side, and even though you may not be getting the recognition you think you should have, live on the side where the promises of God are bright.
For More on A. W. Tozer
Thank you for reading A W Tozer on Failure. Please visit the following links for more information on A. W. Tozer. I wholeheartedly encourage you to listen to some of his free sermons.
- 1A. W. Tozer, The Tozer Pulpit Volume One (Camp Hill, PA: Christian Publications Inc., 1994), pp. 63-65. ISBN: 0-87509-572-0.
- Listen to the Actual Sermon: Dangers of Arrogance and Defeat, Date Preached: 5/8/55, Duration: 22:58, Reference: Galatians 5:1
- A. W. Tozer Theological Seminary: A. W. Tozer Biography.
- Free A. W. Tozer Audio Sermons: This CMA link provides an immense number of A. W. Tozer’s sermons as free audio files.
- Free Audio Book: Tozer’s The Pursuit of God: Free audio book of The Pursuit of God on YouTube.