Maybe it’s about time you failed.
(image by ArtMoth.com)
I remember when I didn’t make the varsity baseball team in high school. I was crushed. But through that, I ended up quitting baseball to pursue golf, a sport I turned out to be pretty good at.
In seminary, I absolutely bombed a paper that I thought was one of my better projects. Through that, I worked hard to refine my writing, and in the process, found a great love of writing.
The first small group my wife and I were a part of (in Louisville, KY) was an abysmal failure. I didn’t want that to happen to us, or anyone else, again. Now I’m a small groups pastor.
The New Testament Church was led by a guy named Peter. Don’t forget that he had an epic fail, where his pride was kicked in the teeth. He thought he was ready to die for Jesus. He wasn’t (John 13:37-38). His pride would even need to be kicked again a little later. (Galatians 2:11-21) And it needed to be in order for God to use Peter.
Why you need to fail
It’s through failure that we learn what we’re not that great at. Here’s a shocker: you’re not great at everything. God’s gifted each person uniquely…you included. We may not always find that gifting on our first shot. Be open to other ideas than what you’ve always thought or been told. Maybe your failure is a good indication that you need to try something else.
It’s through failure that we find out which ideas aren’t the best. Failure becomes a way of culling out the ideas, projects, programs, and directions that needed to go.
It’s through failure that we are motivated. Who wants to fail twice? Failure pushes you to work harder, more efficiently, and lean more heavily on others. Failure is a great deterrent to future failure.
It’s through failure that God comforts us. It’s hard to experience comfort without some level of failure. (see Lamentations 3:16-23)
It’s through failure that our pride is sucker-punched. If you were as awesome as you thought you were, you’d not have failed. As John Ortberg says, “There is a God, and it is not you.”
As valuable as failure is, I still find myself consistently praying, “Lord, please help this _______ to go really well.” Or, “Lord, you want this __________ to succeed more than I do…” Or, “Lord, help this idea to not fall flat on its face.”
Maybe I should start praying, “Lord, maybe this needs to flop. You know best. Help me grow in the process. Chip away the parts of me that don’t look like You. Grow your Church. Knock down my pride. Renew my faith in Your plan.”
Is there an area of your leadership or your life that needs to fail?
Have you seen God grow you more through failure or through success?