Walking towards the Light from the cross of a King

A blog by Josh Humbert

Kobe Is Right About Your Failure


Do you know who Kobe Bryant is?  If you don’t, it’s totally cool…I can sum him up in one single quote.

If you have no idea who Kobe is or what he’s about or what his approach to life is…don’t worry, I got you.

Here, check out this account from Kobe and the director of a documentary about his life.  It tells you all you need to know about him:

Gotham Chopra, the director of “Kobe Bryant’s Muse,” an upcoming documentary on Bryant, told a story about being with Kobe and watching the Nets and the Heat play.  Recounts Chopra, “Deron Williams went like 0-for-9.  I was like, ‘Can you believe Deron Williams went 0-9?

Kobe was like, ‘I would go 0-for-30 before I would go 0-for-9.  0-for-9 means you beat yourself, you psyched yourself out of the game, because Deron Williams can get more shots in the game.  The only reason (you don’t) is because you’ve just now lost confidence in yourself.’”

There it is.  That’s Kobe in a nutshell.

Kobe is a basketball player.  To expound upon that, he is a five-time champion of the NBA, has been MVP of the league, has received dozens of other awards, and is 4th on the All-time scoring list for the NBA.  Kobe once scored 81 points in a game….BY HIMSELF!!  To put it simply—he is one of the most decorated and accomplished basketball players to ever play the game.

What’s his secret?  It’s all wrapped up in that simple quote.

Kobe’s Preparation

What exactly is Kobe saying when he says, “I would go 0-for-30 before I go 0-for-9,”?  He is exhibiting extreme confidence yes…but its confidence that points backwards.

His confidence comes from his preparation.  He KNOWS he has put in the time.  He has paid for that confidence in buckets of sweat, thousands and thousands of shots in an empty gym, and a willingness to practice at a level very few can grasp.  (you can google “Kobe work ethic” and find some amazing stuff).

If Kobe starts off a game 0-for-9, he is confident because he knows the preparation he has put in means things WILL change.  He’s seen himself make these same shots over and over again.  Things will regress back to the mean.  He WILL start seeing the percentages change.

Yes, 0-for-9 is an ugly and inefficient start…but Kobe isn’t looking for a pretty stat sheet at the end of a game, he is looking for a win.  And the win begins with his preparation.  

It is that sweat equity that Kobe has invested that will not allow himself to get “psyched out.”


The Battle Within  

Why would someone stop shooting if they start 0-for-9?  What would be going through their head?

Well, tonight’s just not my night.”

Man, I can’t hit a thing tonight.  What a cold streak!”

0-for-9?  I can’t believe I’m doing this poorly.”

Maybe I should just pass for the rest of the game.”

For the great majority of people, I think any of those responses would be normal.  A realization of how every single shot they’ve launched so far has been a ‘miss’ might be embarrassing or startling.  That much failure can be suffocating.  That type of start to a game can absolutely change their approach for the rest of the game.

And maybe they just give up shooting altogether for that game.  Perhaps they justify their decision by telling themselves they will try to help their team in other ways since it “just isn’t falling for me tonight.”

And you know what?  Maybe that type of thinking isn’t all bad.

But what if?  What if that approach to such a bad start is a way of hiding?  What if Kobe’s right?  What if giving up on shooting because you started poorly actually just shines on a light on what it means to “psych yourself out” of what COULD be?


See, there is an opponent that is tougher than the one who may be guarding you.  There’s an opponent who knows you better than any scouting report.  Most times, the toughest opponent you have to face is yourself.

This is what Kobe is pointing towards.  In times of adversity and failure, will you trust the preparation you have put in or will you passively back away?  Are you more concerned with the numbers and trying to minimize a rough go of things?  Or are you going to dig deep and find the courage to KEEP shooting even while you face your own doubts?

The Audacity of Nope

President Obama wrote a book called “The Audacity of Hope.”  If Kobe ever were to pen his memoir, maybe he could go with “The Audacity of Nope.”

Yeah, most people would back down after a bad start.

Yeah, most players might start to lose that mental battle when they keep seeing their misses.

Yeah, most of us might look to go passive and change our role.

Kobe has the audacity to say Nope to all the above.  So what if I’ve failed all game long?  You think I’m done?  NOPE.  So what if I’ve shot and missed and shot and missed?  You think I’ll stop shooting? NOPE.

I’ll go 0-for-30 before I go 0-for-9.”  That takes trust in preparation and real guts.

The crowd may be hostile and shouting “BRICK” (or much worse) and reminding him of his embarrassing start every time he catches the ball.  The player who’s defending him may be talking trash and rejoicing in how much he is winning the matchup versus Kobe.

But none of that matters to Kobe.  He has silenced his harshest critic already and he has a steel confidence that his hot streak is one swish away.  Because Kobe knows if he starts 0-for-9, he can still finish 11-20 and end up shooting a very good percentage.   Because Kobe knows sometimes the stats and percentages don’t even matter, but his teammates are counting on him to not back down and not waver.  Because Kobe knows he is determined to fire every bullet he has.  There is no going away quietly.

Give up? Change? Passivity?  NOPE.

Your 0-for-9 Place

Where do you know failure?  Actually no…let me ask it this way: Where do you know REPEATED failure?

Where have you seen your effort produce very little (if any) success?  Where in your life have you started out 0-for-9?

  • In your battle with the weight scale, are you 0-for-9?
  • In your battle with having a healthy body image, are you 0-for-9?
  • In your battle with rage and anger and crushing words, are you 0-for-9?
  • In your battle with pornography or sexual sin, are you 0-for-9?
  • In your battle with substance abuse, are you 0-for-9?
  • In your battle with bitterness and hatred, are you 0-for-9?
  • In your efforts to minister well, are you 0-for-9?
  • In your efforts to love your spouse well, are you 0-for-9?
  • In your efforts to love your kids well, are you 0-for-9?

Where in your life have you started out 0-for-9?

In the battle of your own mind, what have you decided about this start?  Are you justifying passivity?  Are you unwilling to take any more shots?  Are you buried under shame because you’ve “psyched yourself out”?

psalm 37

Victory in Jesus

As we hit the conclusion here, I will not promise some easy victory or lay out “3 simple steps to deal with your anger” or any of that nonsense.  In my years, I’ve had to deal with my own 0-for-9’s and there is NOTHING easy about it.

All I hope to do with this writing is to encourage you to KEEP shooting.  Don’t accept defeat and go passive.  I dare you to take another shot.

You’ve missed everything so far?  You’ve even thrown up some air-balls?  I get that.  I’ve done that.  The crowd is screaming at you?  The opposing team taunting you?  Yeah, I know.

But I dare you to take another shot.

Fire every bullet you have in this life.  Take every single shot you can.  Leave nothing behind.  Resolve to just keep moving forward.  Dig deep and find the courage to take that next shot.  Embrace the audacity of NOPE.


God is not exalted when our response to failure is to back down at the next opportunity He brings our way.
God is not made to look glorious when our response to ‘misses’ is to go passive.

He is exalted when we hit our knees, confess our many weaknesses, and cry out for His strength to help us.  THAT is the preparation.

He is exalted when we say NOPE to despairing over our losses.  THAT is the courage.

He is exalted when we rise again and again, by His power, to keep taking that next shot, no matter what the previous outcome has been.  THAT is the victory.

The Broken Gospel

This summer, I had a good conversation with a buddy of mine who is the preaching pastor in his local church.  We were talking of the challenges of preaching well and how sometimes you feel utterly defeated after a message you think didn’t connect with people.  And he asked the question in his unique and humorous way:

Do you ever get done preaching and….just feel like you’ve broken the Gospel?”

I understood completely what he meant.  I know that feeling after preaching a message and just being deflated and wondering, “did ANY of that make sense to people?  Did I break the Gospel?”  While I know all the ‘Bible-answers,’ those questions and doubts still haunt me as I’m sure they do many pastors.

The good news is…well, the Good News is the ‘good news.’  The good news is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  The Gospel can’t be broken by our failures, but the Gospel is exactly for broken people who have failed.

Our God is the Inventor of Grace.  He LOVES the people who are 0-for-9.  He came specifically to redeem those people.  He regards those who know failure and misses.  The Gospel is FOR the broken people.

And in the midst of our failures, God doesn’t come and say, “GET THIS RIGHTPerform better!!  You better start making these shots or else!!”….No, quite the opposite.  He says, “You are saved by My Son’s performance, not your own.  And rest in this——He made every single shot He attempted.  And I count His ‘makes’ for your stats!  So don’t be dragged down by the past.  I will be with you.  Let’s move forwardIt doesn’t matter how ugly your start was…we will win this together.’”

Your misses can’t break the Gospel.  The Gospel is the unbreakable good news of grace to those who can’t make a shot.  The Gospel is for you when that 9th straight miss happens.  The Gospel is the truth that the One who never misses promises to always be with you, even now. 

Now if you know that to be the truth…I dare you to take another shot.

Phil 3

As always, thanks for reading.  Your comments and thoughts are welcome below.

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This entry was posted on August 27, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , .

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