John Maxwell in his book, Failing Forward (2000), quotes management consultant Peter Drucker as saying, “The better a man is, the more mistakes he will make, for the more new things he will try” (Maxwell, 2000). Granted that the focus of Maxwell’s book is how the effort to try new things may lead to mistakes, and that mistakes really do pave the road to achievement. Maxwell discusses how “the difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure” (Maxwell, 2000). Below are some stories of failure which ultimately by God’s grace led to redemption and restoration, and I hope will be an encouragement to you as they are to me.
Notes below from http://www.cbn.com/finance/brennflecks_gift_of_failure.aspx “Failure is a detour, not a dead-end street.” – Zig Ziglar “It is a mistake to suppose that people succeed through success; they often succeed through failures.” – Author unknown
Henry Ford said that “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” The message of Romans 8:28 is that God uses everything in our lives to transform us into the people He means us to be. The purpose of “failures” is not to discourage and break us, but rather to provide us opportunities to be broken down and then built up into all God intends for us to be. “Failure” most likely will be an inherent part of living your calling because you will be growing and doing new things. The key is to see a “failure” as a learning experience and not as a character trait. You may fail when you try something, but that does not mean that you are a failure. You have only failed when you refuse to learn from the experience.
Max Lucado, best-selling author of more 50 Christian books, recounts that he had to send his first manuscript to at least 15 publishers. “‘Nobody wanted to publish it,’” he said. He didn’t get discouraged enough to quit, however. “‘Every time I got the manuscript back, I thought, Well I’ll just try another publisher,’” he said. His millions of loyal readers are grateful he did!
Colonel Harland Sanders, a committed Christian, had tried a number of unsuccessful business ventures. At the age of 65, he decided his fried chicken with its secret blend of 11 herbs and spices was the right idea. He refused to give up in spite of 1008 sales calls to restaurant owners that ended in rejection. Prospect number 1009 was the first to say “yes.” Colonel Sanders said that his faith took him from living off his $105 monthly pension check to running a $285 billion company.
Chuck Colson was President Nixon’s right-hand man. As one of the major players behind the Watergate scandal, “he underwent intense media scrutiny, congressional hearings and ultimately, prison. ‘I thought my opportunity to accomplish anything really significant in my life was over once I was in prison and public enemy number one.” However, “in the past 27 years since I’ve been out of prison, I’ve seen how God has used my broken experience for His greatest glory….Anything said about me has to be a reflection of the great things God has done, not Chuck Colson. I’m able to do what I do today because of the greatest failure of my life.’”
Notes below from John Woodbridge, ed., More Than Conquerors (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1992), 340-343.
James Cash Penney’s first venture as a retail proprietor was a butcher shop in Longmont, Colo. – opened in 1899 and failed almost immediately, after he refused to bribe an important local hotel chef with a weekly bottle of bourbon. "I lost everything I had,” said Penney, “but I learned never to compromise.” J.C. Penney is a name synonymous with department store. He first launched his chain of “The Golden Rule” stores in 1907. In 1910 his first wife died. Three years later, he incorporated as the J.C. Penney company. In 1923 his second wife died giving birth to his son. In 1929 the stock market crashed and he lost $40 million. By 1932, he had to sell out to satisfy…creditors. This left [Penney] virtually broke. …Crushed in spirit from his loss and his health suddenly failing, Penney wound up in a Battle Creek, Michigan sanitorium. One morning he heard the distant singing of employees who gathered to start the day with God: Be not dismayed, whate’er betide, God will take care of you…. Penney followed the music to its source and slipped into a back row. He left a short time later a changed man, his health and spirit renewed, and ready to start the long climb back at age fifty-six. By 1951 there was a J.C. Penney store in every state, and for the first time sales surpassed $1 billion a year.
Notes below are from Dr. David R. Reid, with permission to reprint freely given, found at http://www.growingchristians.org/dfgc/failure.html.
One of the most familiar stories in the life of the apostle Peter is his denial of the Lord Jesus. We wonder how Peter could have done such a thing–but would we have been any more faithful in similar circumstances? On the night of the Last Supper Peter was so confident of his faith that he declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.” The Lord Jesus replied, “I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows tonight, you will deny three times that you know me.” And Peter had rashly replied, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.”
Only a few hours later Jesus’ prediction was fulfilled. Peter declared three times, with curses and oaths (Mark 14:71), that he didn’t even know Jesus! Can you imagine Peter’s guilt and remorse when suddenly the rooster crowed–and the Lord Jesus, now a captive, looked straight at him with that sorrowful look. As Peter went out from the courtyard and wept bitterly, he must have thought his failure was final. After all, he had not only denied being one of the Lord’s friends, he had sworn that he didn’t even know Him! When Jesus was led away to trial and crucifixion, Peter probably thought that any opportunity to express his grief and remorse and ask forgiveness from the Lord was gone forever.
But Peter’s failure was not final. In His grace, the Lord had great plans for Peter. At the restoration breakfast by the Sea of Galilee, Peter was a special object of Jesus’ love. The Lord knew all about Peter’s thoughts and feelings of guilt, and the Lord knew exactly how to tenderly restore Peter with a question-and-answer technique. Read the story in John 21. Our Lord’s gentle restoration of Peter was certainly a fulfillment of that wonderful messianic passage in Isaiah 42:3. “A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish.”
It has often been pointed out that Jesus used two different well-known Greek words for love when He asked Peter, “Do you love Me?” (John 21:15-17). The Greek word “phileo” refers to “tender affection,” and the word “agapao” refers to love that involves “voluntary self-denial for the sake of the loved one.” The Lord used “agapao” in His first and second questions to Peter, and “phileo” the third time. But Peter responded with “phileo” all three times. Most likely the Lord was speaking to Peter in Aramaic, which does not have parallel words and nuances for these two Greek words for “love.” However, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, John (who was present at the conversation), used these specific Greek words to precisely convey the essence of our Lord’s restorative conversation with Peter. After his recent experience of brash declaration and subsequent failure, Peter was probably too ashamed to profess “agapao” love (the strong love that involves willing self-sacrifice) for the Lord. But the Lord still had plans for him. As the perfect counselor, the Lord Jesus told Peter that his failure was not final. And the counsel was effective. Peter went on to be greatly used of God! His love for Christ led to sacrificial service throughout the remainder of his life–even to imprisonment and death as a faithful martyr.
If the Lord forgave and restored Peter, will He not do the same for us? God is teaching us this wonderful lesson by recording the failure and restoration of Peter in His Word.