Our culture is obsessed with success and fearful of failure.
Christian ministry often carries added pressure for success. There is a popular notion that really spiritual people will always succeed in ministry. In other words, good Christians – people who pray a lot, know the bible, and stay morally clean – do not fail. That idea is not biblical. That idea does not match experience. That idea actually stifle leaders and hinders the work of God. It is poison.
I am not a fan of failure. Failure is not the goal that we should set for ourselves (I hope to have more success my life!). Yet, I think that in our success oriented culture failure is underrated.
Here are a few ways that a Fail can be a Win:
1. If you failed, you actually tried to do something! You probably tried to do something that you believed needed to be done. You probably tried to do something unique. Failure is not the worst thing. Failure is better than selling out, or conforming, or cowering in the face of adversity, or just talking. Find pride in your failure.
2. If you failed, you have an opportunity to learn and grow. Failure gives you a grip on reality that is not shared by those who have not failed, or risked enough to fail. The biggest “failures” in my life, I would never want to repeat them, have provided me with a unique perspective on life. Find wisdom in your failure.
3. If you failed, you have the opportunity to know your true self. Failure provides you the opportunity to check where your identity is rooted. Failure can strips away the false self of image and performance. In failure you are valuable and you are loved simply because you are. Find grace in your failure.
4. If you failed, you opened up the possibility for something wonderful. Failure creates a new reality, a new context for creativity. When you factor in the God of resurrection into our failure, what seems to be empty is often the beginning of something new and beautiful. God will bring light into the darkness. Find hope in your failure.
For more honest and liberating discussion of failure and success in ministry, I encourage you to participate in the the upcoming Epic Fail Pastors Conference April 14-16. If you can’t make the conference, you will find even a visit to the website to be refreshing.