By Michael A. Halleen
They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. (John 21:3)
Jesus’ disciples knew how to fish. They did it well and expected to be successful. But that night “they caught *nothing*.” They failed. We know the feeling. Behind all of us lie some disappointments, and we can be sure there will be still more days ahead when our achievements fall short of our dreams. But FAILING does not make one a FAILURE. That happens only when we give up.
Winston Churchill failed sixth grade, but he was no failure as a leader of his nation.
Thomas Edison failed all his classes in school and was sent home to work on his widowed mother’s farm, but he was no failure as an inventor and creator of progress.
David Livingstone fled from the pulpit of his first church in Scotland, a failure because he could not remember the text he was to preach on. From there he went to Africa and brought the Christian faith within reach of millions. Failing, in itself, is not the issue. It is what we do next that matters.
Some suggestions on what to do when failure comes:
Look for the presence of God. You have not been forsaken. God is at work in disappointment and failure as well as in success.
Learn all you can from it. Erma Bombeck was invited to a dinner for “highly successful people.” Appalled at the idea, she nevertheless decided to go because she wanted to hear what successful people talked about. Later she wrote, “Every one of those people, every single one of those highly successful people, could only talk about their failures and how they learned from them.”
Get on with what’s next. The Apostle Paul said, “Forgetting what is behind…I press on.” The mark of the neurotic person is a perfect memory of every failing, while healthy people let it go and move ahead.
Challenge your idea of what is important. God has not called us to be successful, but to be faithful. God is not in the business of helping us to succeed, but of refining the soul, developing character, energizing the spirit. Success is only incidental to those ends.
They got into the boat, worked all night and caught…NOTHING. Then came the voice of a Stranger on the shore, telling them to keep going, keep putting the net into the water. The story was not finished yet. They found that, while they failed, God did a marvelous work, in the sea, yes, but even more in their troubled hearts.
“On Failing”. Written by Michael A. Halleen.
“This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”