As I'm intentionally trying new things this year, with that has come more failure than I'm used to. And because of it, I’m learning that it takes a particular mindset to fail repeatedly and not view yourself as a failure.
It’s also caused me to look at the Apostle Peter with a new appreciation.
Peter was the kind of guy who would build the plane while he was flying it. You know, act now...think later. He also suffered from foot-in-mouth disease. Here are just a few examples:
When Jesus was walking on water, it was Peter who said, “Lord, if it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” (Matt. 14:28). Peter walked on water with Jesus, became fearful of the waves, and sank.
When Jesus was being arrested, it was Peter who defended Him by cutting off a soldier’s ear. Jesus gently rebuked Peter, telling him to put his sword away and restoring the man’s ear.
When Jesus told His disciples that they would all fall away after His crucifixion, Peter vowed He would not only stand by His side, but He would even die for Him. One rooster crow later, Peter had denied his Lord.
I believe there are two interconnected reasons why Peter was able to fail repeatedly and not view himself as a failure.
First, he had tremendous faith. One thing that set him apart from the other disciples was that he was the first one of them to acknowledge that Jesus was the Messiah, the Chosen One sent by God. Jesus affirmed him in his confession and Peter knew he was loved. Peter didn’t just have faith in who Jesus was, though. He also had faith in what Jesus said. Jesus promised Peter that He would use him to build His Church. It didn’t matter that Peter had failed before because Jesus’ promises were true and could be trusted.
Second, and here’s the connection. Peter’s faith led to obedience. He may not have done things perfectly, but he was out of the boat, trusting Jesus and learning to trust Him more. After His resurrection, Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep, and that’s exactly what Peter did. His failure taught him to trust that Jesus was with Him and would not let him down.
For lots of good reasons, God wired us to avoid pain and seek comfort. It’s how our ancestors sought shelter and stayed safe from the brutal elements and dangerous animals. However, God also calls us to a life of faith in Him, which requires us to step out of our comfort zones when He tells us.
The problem for many of us is that we care too much about our own egos or what others might think of us if we fail. So we stay in the practice room, where we can feel like we’re part of the team without ever stepping onto the field.
The practice room has its purpose, but Jesus wants us in the game. He gives us the training and then says, “Go!” This is what enables us to fail, knowing Jesus is with us. What’s more, we're not defined by our failures. We're defined by who Jesus says we are, and we can trust Him in the work He calls us to do.
So what is Jesus calling you to do in faith? Will you join me out on His field?
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