I recently read a very interesting article by BBC on the importance of failure. It sounds like an oxymoron; how can failure in any way be good for anything? The premise of the article was that occasional failure has informative benefits that individuals can harness. I know this sounds cliché and we’ve all been told that it is okay to ‘fail-forward’, but it got me thinking about how I process failure and if this processing is counterproductive to my ministry, work and relationships.
My first big fail was devastating to say the least, something that could have taken me 2 years at most to process took me 6+ years. I have since then re-adjusted my perspective on failure and take it more graciously when it does happen. Is it that we live in such a highly competitive world that teaches us that being on top is the only way? Or is it that our education system has no time for imperfection and so we learn very early on that failure is not normal? Or could it be that our familial backgrounds tend to frown upon failure and as such we punish ourselves severely when it happens?
I think that all these reasons and many more create a cocktail of perfectionism that is neither healthy nor normal. While it is important to carry a spirit of excellence and envision a future state that is ideal, it crosses healthy borders when one cannot imagine themselves missing the mark. This means that we should be open to the possibility that we will not get it right all the time. Tying this in with examples of perfect failures in the bible, I cannot think of anyone who God used greatly who did not have any moments of weakness. Paul was our present day Al-Shabaab, King David- a man after God’s own heart was a philandering adulterer, the mighty prophet Elijah was afraid and suicidal…the list is endless, yet God used all these people to bring about His purposes.
Are you struggling with a past decision, present mistakes and have resigned to thinking that God is finished with you? Have you given up on a great idea because the first time that you tried it failed? Have you failed morally and think that God is angry with you? You can start over, it is not time to give up. I challenge you to hear the words of Jesus “Who here condemns you”? If Christ does not condemn you, isn’t it time to move on from that broken place? Truly, our father is not one who leaves us even when we are entangled in our messes. He comes to help us where men have left us, He comes to heal us where we have been broken, and He never leaves us the same.
Today, like he did more than two thousand years ago, Christ is inviting us to come to him in the state we are. He is not asking us to clean ourselves up, or to never make mistakes. He is asking you and I to drop the fear of failure and live free in the wonder of his grace.