Friday, April 5, 2013

Handling Mistakes and Failure

This post is a reprint of a past article. I think there are many of you who will be encouraged by it.  -BL

Peter's Examples

"Get thee behind me, Satan" -Matthew 16: 16-17, 22-23
We learn through our mistakes if we remain humble, teachable, and entreatable. At one moment Peter received a great revelation from the Father; the next moment he was influenced by the enemy. In one moment he was praised for his insight; the next moment he was rebuked for speaking without knowledge. Experiences such as these helped Peter to grow in discernment. If Peter and the other disciples had to learn through their mistakes, how much more should we expect to do the same? Instruction and discipline are the way of life. We should not be surprised and ashamed when we need them.

"Lord, let us build three tabernacles..." -Luke 9: 33
Peter stood in the glory of God and, even there, spoke foolishly. The Father had to silence him and move Peter's focus back to Jesus. It is a mistake to think a person is infallible just because he has been in the glory of God's presence. Experiencing the miraculous and the supernatural does not guarantee that a person's every thought, idea, and response is accurate. God uses imperfect vessels. Likewise, if God uses a person in one area, that does not make him perfect or an expert in other areas. Once again Peter learned from his mistakes.

"Lord, bid me come." -Matthew 14: 24-31
Peter was nervous about taking the risk. Therefore, he did not say "Let me come" walking on the water, but rather, "Command me to come." The clear commission removes the fear. At His command we can go forward in faith. And even if we, like Peter, begin to sink we can still rejoice that we were going to Jesus in faith as opposed to staying safely in the boat with those who never fail but who never accomplish anything either.

When Peter began to sink, he did not drown in failure but called out, "Lord, save me!" God is more pleased with those who stumble attempting to walk on water than with those who remain safely in the boat.

"I have prayed for you that your faith would not fail..." -Luke 22: 31-34, 60-62
Jesus did not rebuke Peter for the denial that was to come, but rather encouraged him and prayed that he would respond properly, repent, and come through it in faith rather than giving up and quitting. Jesus wanted him to come through the situation strong and able to strengthen others.

Your ability to strengthen and encourage others does not come from your never failing, nor does it come from your always being strong, but rather from your ability to break and "turn again," to repent and appropriate grace when you have failed or have sinned. Don't let faith fail when you fail.

"The Lord turned and looked at Peter" at the very moment Peter was denying Him. Considering the context, this is one of the most precious sentences in the Bible. The sovereignty and love of God are revealed in this glance. That look was not one of condemnation, but of mercy, acceptance, and encouragement. God had providentially orchestrated the events of Jesus' trial so that Jesus would be able to turn and look at Peter at just the right moment. That glance came at the perfect time to encourage Peter and remind him of Jesus' words— "I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren."

"...What diligence [godly sorrow] produced in you,..." -2 Corinthians 7: 8-11
What will you do with your shame? Just be embarrassed, or be broken and turn to the Lord?

Often people are humiliated but not humbled. We must find godly sorrow and not the "sorrow of the world." Worldly sorrow can be a form of self-centeredness and rebellion. It causes us to wallow in self-pity, to remain in the pit, and to stay stubborn before God. Godly sorrow causes us to arise, to depend upon God's mercy, and to appropriate His transforming and enabling grace.


Anonymous said...

Hey Billy!
I always enjoy what you have to say! In this particular blog. I love that you want to give folks freedom, with the understanding that they must be willing to be lovingly corrected - not rejected! Freedom without that kind of accountability does indeed sometimes lead to weirdness, but with loving leadership leads to maturity and effectiveness that cannot be achieved without the freedom to make mistakes.

Lo-Lee said...

This is very good, and I think my recovery time from disappointment with myself is better than it used to be. But here is my biggest stumbling block: even when I have had a serious moral failure such as the one I have shared with you over the past year or more, I don't doubt that God can fully forgive me and I can be restored into union with Him. But I question whether I can ever trust myself, ever believe that I will come to a place of being faithful and useful to the Kingdom.