8/30 Love Does series: How to Fail Forward John 18: 15-18; 25-27
Fail – that is a word that no one every wants to hear or admit to. Webster defines it as: to fall short of success or achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved. We all have failed. At least, once right? Okay a few more times than one. And every time we were left feeling … well as a failure. So how is it that “How to Fail Forward” is a lesson in our current series of Love Does? Pastor George talked with the young people of Turning Failure into Something Good. And that takes love.
Everyone fails, it doesn’t escape any of us. It’s how we react to our own failure and also the failure of another. This week’s scripture passage from John is the account of Simon Peter’s failure of not admitting that he was a disciple of Jesus, not only once, but three times. Jesus predicted to Peter that he would do such an act before the rooster crowed. Peter earlier had said to Jesus in John 13:37 “… I will lay down my life for you.” 38 Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly, I say to you, the rooster will not crow till you have denied me three times.” We read in John 18:27 “Peter again denied it, and at once a rooster crowed.” Peter right there and then knew that he failed Jesus. Imagine the emotion going through Peter, we’ve probably felt a similar pain and hurt of letting a loved one, a friend, a person or purpose we care about, and Jesus too, down.
For certain we will fail again. It’s being human. So how can we learn to fail forward? Pastor George encouraged us by saying , ‘Don’t stop after failure’. We may have failed in an attempt, but we are not a failure, there is a big difference. He says we should ask ourselves two things: 1.What went well? There is something good in the fail, look for the positive. 2.What could be improved? Mistakes happen. Don’t ignore it, learn from it. If our mistake causes us to sin, we know our sin is covered, claim forgiveness that Christ offers. Jesus has hopes and dreams for us that are good and not evil. Pastor George also said, it’s who we are in Christ, forgiven, loved, given a plan to live out, because we are the Lords. Trust Jesus and try again.
In this week’s Right Now Media we watched a training video Learning from Failure by Cheryl Bachelder where she says that we learn very little from our successes. Our failures drive us, keep them going. Say what? Yes, we learn our most important life lessons from failure if we don’t let them define who we are. Cheryl goes on to say, failure leaves us feeling hopeless, yet they teach us the best lessons for our future. Regard success as service and failure as opportunity. In failures our lives begin to shift into a fertile ground for spiritual development and growth, she says. Bob Goff in the Love Does series suggests that God fashions the people he loves the most, as if he leads them into failure so that we understand our absolute need for Him. He says, we are not defined by our successes but on our need for Christ. We are no longer defined by our failures. We are defined by Christ. Bob goes on to explain that it’s God telling us I don’t see you for your failure, but who you are becoming. Bob Goff says our failures teaches us 1. Of our character and who we want to be. 2. Jesus and who he wants us to be, to see whose we are becoming. In life a thing or two is going to go wrong, we are not dejected by God but defined by God. Another training video we watched was The Courage to Risk Failure by Wil Haughey. He too says, consider failure and the good that comes from it. God is in control of the outcome, trusting God for whatever outcome he desires. God is sovereign, take risks, fight for it. We’re in the business of taking risks. Fight to make yourself available to God’s call on your life and trust Him with the outcomes. Wil says, bear the mark of Christ as we go about our work. Whether the risk is in our jobs, our church work, or in life itself, show the love and compassion of Christ in serving other people, take the risk, we are free to fail. In Strategies for Handling Adversity by Workmasters in Right Now Media, we heard Donnie Smith tell us to ‘Bloom Where You Are Planted’. In wherever God is leading you he will use that to teach us things. He referenced Ecclesiastes 9:10 (NIV) “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.” Donnie added that God uses that obedience to train, to give us skills. That obedience gives us courage to go on in other instances also. It was in this series that Cheryl Backelder also shared that almost all of our learning comes from some version of trial, tribulation, or outright failure. She says to be very intentional about learning from our mistakes. Use a difficult learning experience from failure to be a better version of yourself in the next opportunity.
Jesus, after his death and before his Ascension into heaven, appeared to seven Disciples. Reading in part from John 21, just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore of the sea, preparing breakfast for them. After they were finished eating Jesus questions Peter three times saying, do you love me? Peter’s final answer, he said, ‘Lord, you know all; you know that I love you.’ Through this encounter, Peter has restoration with Jesus, Jesus takes Peter back as a disciple. Peter is not a failure. Peter is the name he had been given by Jesus. In Matthew 16 :18 “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Peter has work to do for Jesus. His new nickname, Peter, was not based on who he used to be but on who he was becoming. What makes a good “Jesus nickname” for you? It’s when we begin turning failure into something good. When we learn from our mistakes, and take the step to fail forward, that we grow into becoming who we are born to be. Christ Follower, Chosen, are a couple great nicknames to name a few.
Pastor George asked us to repeat this saying: I have failed. I am not a failure. There is a big difference.
The big difference is that we are loved. Loved by Jesus. Loved by God who wants to do a good work through his followers. Loved by God who wants us to become who he created us to be.
Start today, to look at failure through the Master’s eyes!
Larry and Darlene