By Tom Brown
There was a pastor I know who became a great success in the ministry. He had won
hundreds of souls, built a large congregation, and showed promise of doing
even more. He was a great teacher and was personable, people liked him, his
conduct was becoming of a minister, yet, like so many ministers in our day,
he succumbed to sexual temptation.
It looked like his ministry was over. The
passage in Ecclesiastes 10:1 haunted him: "As dead flies give perfume a
bad smell, so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor." It did not seem
fair that all the good work he had done was going to be outweighed by this
one act of indiscretion. Everything he worked for was about to be destroyed.
He thought of handing in his resignation…and then, a parishioner in his
church had a dream. She dreamt of the pastor. He was preaching real well
behind the pulpit, and then he fell forward off of the platform, landing in
the seats of the congregation. The woman was excited about the dream and
told the pastor, “God showed me that you fell forward, not backward.”
This dream encouraged the pastor to continue in the ministry. Now his
ministry is bigger than ever before, and he has become an even
You too may have failed, and you think that
God could never use you again. You feel like He is about to throw you onto
the junk heap of failures. But listen, God is not through with you! Consider
Proverbs 24:16: "for though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises
again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity." Let Palms 37:23-24
encourage you: "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he
delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down:
for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand." (KJV)
These passages prove one thing: even
righteous, good people fall down, but they always get back up. In fact the
passage says that a righteous man falls seven times. He doesn’t just
make one mistake, but many.
In our disposable society, we
are quick to throw away people who have fallen. We see no use for them: "They
had their chance, now they blew it." We are like the people who are ready to
throw stones at the woman caught in adultery. We feel it is our duty to
destroy such failures. But we should be careful, because we are all in some
ways failures. This is why Jesus said, “He who is without sin, cast the
first stone.” It was Jesus way to show men their own folly. How dare they
stone a woman when they too have sinned?
According to the passages we
read, it is possible for a good man to have his steps order by the Lord
while at the same time his foot slips and he falls. But the difference
between a good man versus and evil one is that he never stays down. An evil
man, on the hand, never repents. He continues the same course. If you
consider yourself a true child of God, the righteousness of God, and a new
creation—then you will arise, you won’t stay down.
You will fall forward!
John Maxwell, who is an
expert on leadership, says that the most important quality for success is
not one’s family background, or wealth, or opportunity, or surprisingly not
even high morals, for we all know of scoundrels who have been high
producers. He believes the difference between average people and achieving
people is their perception of and response to failure.
As one old preacher said,
“God uses only failures, because there aint’ any other kind to use.”
All of us have failed—some royally, others not so grand, but we all make
mistakes. It is the response to our mistakes that show the kind of people we
My son Justin took skiing
lessons. The first thing they taught him was “how to fall.” They knew as
hard as he tried to ski that he was going to fall many times. It was
inevitable that the
better he wanted to get, the more falls he would have to endure. The
instructors taught him how to fall because he did not want him to break
anything or quit because of discouragement.
The same can be said of the Christian life.
Do not think for a moment that your failure in life—whether it is a broken
marriage, drug addiction, or some other moral failure—means that your life
is over. Peter denied the Lord and later repented and became the chief
apostle. On the other hand, Judas betrayed Christ and took his life. One man
confronted his failure and became great, and another gave up and was buried
by his failure!
Babe Ruth was not only the homerun king,
but he was the strikeout king as well. The truth is we do not remember him
for his strikeouts but for his homeruns.
It is your response to
failure that is more important than the failure itself.
The legend of King
Midas shows how failure is not something to be avoided at all costs. The
King was fearful of poverty and failure and wanted to be able to turn
everything into gold, and so his friend, Dionysos, granted his wish. He woke
up and touched his bed and it turned into gold. He walked the courts and
touched his palace gates and they turned to gold. Eventually he was hungry
and went to eat, and when he reached for an apple, it turned into gold. His
whole meal turned to gold. Finally his daughter joined him for breakfast and
when he hugged her, she turned to gold. He lamented his wish. He wanted
everything to go back to normal, and eventually he got his wish.
We often are like King
Midas. We do not want to experience anything except success. Failure must be
avoided at all costs. Sometimes we discover how we have injured and hurt
others because of our own perfectionism. Do the people around us cringe in
our presence because we are a hard taskmaster?
The real tragedy is
when the hard taskmaster fails. Sometimes he cannot forgive himself. He
becomes ashamed. So shameful does he feel that he cannot move on.
David Brinkley asked
columnist Ann Landers what question she most frequently received from
readers. She told him, “What is wrong with me?” This question hits at the
heart of the matter. We all know ourselves much too well. We know our
imperfections, our failures. Surely if people knew who we really are, then
they will not like us. Failure scares us, and yet, it should not.
Falling is a fact of
life. Before you ever walked, you fell many times. A parent does not scold
the child for falling, but puts the child back on his feet and says, “Try
God does not bury us
because we have failed. No! King David knew failure. But he also knew the
God who “stoops down to make me great” (Ps 18:35). The word
is the Hebrew word
meaning: gentleness—condescension, human and subjective (modesty), or
divine and objective (clemency). This is redemption. God descended to
our level in order to provide clemency for us. God knew we would never rise
to His level, so He stooped to our level. God knows how weak we are! Yet, He
chose to save us and use us for His glory.
Failure from God’s
We need to see failure
from God’s perspective, not from our own.
1. God sees that
failure is unavoidable.
As much as we try to
avoid it, failure happens. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fallen short
of God’s glory.” Despite the inability to avoid sin, God does not see us as
sinners. He calls us “the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21).
view our sin, but we are “blameless in his sight” (Ep 1:4). God has
different eyes than we humans. He sees things different. What this
means is that God will not label us as sinners. Harsh religion will try to
pin you with a label—addict, adulterer, and divorcee—but Christ will never
see you that way when you change. He sees you as forgiven, as a new
creation, and a child of God.
There are only two
people whose views matter: God and you! What others think does not count.
Historians may view someone in a certain way, but they do not have the final
word. God has given His Word, and it is up to you to accept His Word about
you. If you have truly repented then you accept God’s total forgiveness and
move on. Let the critics gossip and write about you, but you will silence
them with your actions. There is no stigma attached to you because of
2. God sees failure as
NBA coach, Rick Pitino,
agrees, “Failure is good. It’s fertilizer. Everything I’ve learned about
coaching I’ve learned from making mistakes.” The best coaches are the
experienced ones. Why, because they know what does not work, and they
learned it firsthand.
I used to coach youth
football. When I first started, I thought I knew what would work. I soon
learned how little I knew. But eventually I discovered through trial and
error what worked, and thus our team became good.
It is interesting to
note that the people who dropped their stones first were the older ones (John
8:9). The young people had not learned enough from their mistakes to be
tolerant toward those who failed. It took more time for them to be willing to
drop their rocks and not stone the woman. Even today, you will notice that
the most intolerant, religious fanatics are mostly young people. How many
elderly men become suicide bombers? Young people have not been through
enough failures to be compassionate on those who have failed.
Most of the things we
have learned have come from our mistakes. Without our mistakes we may
possibly never learn. Many of the great Psalms in our Bible were written
specifically because David had learned from his mistakes. Experience
includes failure, and failure becomes a great teacher, not an enemy.
A reporter asked Thomas
Edison how he felt when his experiments failed, “Son, every failure is just
one step closer to finding the answer.”
3. God also does not
see failure as irreversible and final.
In my state of Texas we
have a saying, “It doesn’t matter how much milk you spill so long as you
don’t lose the cow.” Another similar saying, “Don’t cry over spilt milk.”
The thing you cannot lose is your self esteem and confidence in God’s love
for you. You must believe in a God-of-another-chance. He really does give
people chances to make up for what they did. You must believe that God
really wants you to make it.
Sergio Zyman was the
“mastermind” behind New Coke. His campaigned was one of the great failures
in marketing. He left the company and got rehired because ultimately the
action ended up being positive. Because of his failure with New Coke,
Coca-Cola Classic was born. Without the first failure, there would not
have been the great success of the new campaign.
You see, God can turn
your failures into ultimate success. He can turn your test into a
testimony; your mess into a message.
So you have fallen!
Join the club. We all have! What you do with your failure will prove the
kind of person you truly are. I encourage you to move forward, learn from
your mistakes, and be a better person from it.
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