Why You Need To Fail

I failed to complete my first marathon (I passed out on the 24th mile).  I failed to get the first job I applied for after college and I failed at the first few dating relationships I had.  But then again if I had never failed I would have never learned the importance of persistence, I would have never discovered my calling of ministry and would never have met the woman of my dreams.  We need to fail because:
Failure Brings:

  • Humility – Failure helps us realize that it’s not all about us, it’s a reminder from God where he is telling us, “Remember who is in control.”  You don’t need failure to find humility, but it sure does accelerate the process.  Failure reminds us to be open to God’s plan.
  • Growth – If you didn’t do something right the first time, failure allows you to learn from your mistakes.  Most times we succeed we forget to look at what makes us successful, failure makes the situation a learning process.  Failure brings us wisdom that can be passed on.

Who Needs To Fail:

  • Teens – A youth ministry that doesn’t challenge it’s students to take risks is a youth ministry that’s focused on itself.  We need to let them know that Christianity doesn’t bring a happy, perfect life.  If they share their faith they may get rejected.  If they invite someone to church they could fail, but if they never take the risk then they’ll never reach the joy that God promises.
  • Ministers – You want to set your ministers up for success, but that doesn’t mean limiting their ability to take chances.  Yeah they might have a wild idea that could bomb, but what are they going to learn if you don’t let them try?  Besides leaders are learners and with failure we have the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.
  • Us – Some of us don’t like conflict and that’s what failure brings.  So we play the safe route by trying to appease the crowds.  We play it safe by catering to insiders.  We aren’t going to be able to save 100% of who we serve, but we can lose 100% if we don’t take chances.  If you fail, be humble and allow others to pick you up.  People want a leader who’s willing to risk failure and willing to seek help.

Again it’s a scary thought to fail, because no one really likes a failure.  Plus, failure can bring some negative consequences; however, if we always play it safe it means we’re focused on our own comfort.  Ministry isn’t supposed to be comfortable, it should be filled with tension.  And balancing the tension is tough, there are going to be times when we fail.  I know some people might disagree and others of you may have similar thoughts, so I would be interested in hearing them.

What else does failure bring that could be considered positive?

Should we allow our ministers and teens to fail?  Why?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • CJ

    I always felt like if I didn’t try at least 3 or 4 events and programs in a year that failed that I was being too cautious and too safe. We all need to push ourselves and our ministries. Great stuff!

  • There definitely needs to be a push, but this article talks about the extremes. I want to know what people do to determine a good risk vs a reckless one.

  • Jonathan Van Maanen

    That’s a good question I will be thinking about. It is one thing to say that we want students and ministers to fail, but I wonder, at what point does it become foolish?

    Hmmmm…pondering…

  • Jonathan,
    that’s a great point, a line I don’t think that is easily drawn. I think as long as the consequences don’t end in sin or the risk isn’t taken in vain, it’s something we can definitely rebound from…but then again…good point.