Summary: The messages teaches Christians how to handle failure in such a way that we learn from it.
Annual Sermons Volume 1
DEALING WITH FAILURE
“Go tell His disciples, and Peter…..”Get Mark and bring him with you” (Mk. 16:7, 2 Tim. 4:11)
A young man in the last century was born in poverty. His mother died when he was a baby. He had very little opportunity for any formal education. He entered politics and ran for the state legislature and was defeated. He entered business, but a worthless partner put him into bankruptcy. He fell in love with a girl, but she died. He later married another, but it was an unhappy marriage. He ran for Congress and was elected, but was defeated when he ran for re-election. He worked for an appointment to the U.S. Senate and was defeated. He ran for Vice President and was defeated. But Abraham Lincoln went on to become our sixteenth President and, by most estimates, the greatest American of all time. No one succeeds all the time. The only people who do not fail are the ones who do not try anything.
The home run king of baseball is Babe Ruth. He hit 714 home runs. But he is also the strikeout king. He struck out 1330 times. The best pitcher in baseball history was Cy Young. He won 511 games. But Cy Young lost almost as many games as he won. During the French and Indian War, at Fort Necessity, a young American officer surrendered to the enemy; but we do not remember George Washington as one who lost to the French.
Our two passages, separated by over ten years, concern John Mark, the author of the second Gospel. He had a bad first half; surrendering to full time mission work and quitting when the going got rough. But he had a good second half. He rose above failure and when Paul was awaiting death, he wanted Mark by his side. John Mark, Abraham Lincoln, Babe Ruth, Cy Young and George Washington were men who learned to cope with failure. Another highway sign on the road to the Abundant Life is Don’t Be Defeated By Defeats. Failures are like temptations and taxes, the first thing we must do is expect them. The mature Christian is not one who never fails; he or she is one who has learned to rise above failures and go on climbing upward to victory, using even these failures as stepping stones.
I. WHY DO WE FAIL?
There are really only two reasons for failure and both of these were evident in recent political events. Mr. Nixon, if what we heard about Watergate was true, failed because he did the wrong thing. Sometimes failure is our fault. It may come from shoddy preparation, lack of discipline, careless attention to details, insufficient skill, dishonesty or lack of true dedication. But failure can also come, through no fault of ours, when we have done our best. It is this kind of failure which bruises the ego and breeds discouragement that hurts the most. We have to face the painful fact that our best wasn’t good enough.
B. WHEN DO WE LET FAILURES DEFEAT US?
Sooner or later, if you live long enough, you are going to fail. The significant thing is not failure, but what we allow failure to do to us. The tragedy of failure comes when we do not constructively deal with it; when we mishandle it; when we let it beat us to our knees. Many of you have failed to rise above some of your failures in your social life, in business, in your home, in your spiritual life - and you are thus living far below your potential. Why is this? In what ways do we let defeats defeat us?
We mishandle failure when we use it as an excuse to wallow in self pity. Failure, as I said, bruises the ego. It is a sharp blow to our pride. We lose part of our self respect and instead of pulling ourselves together, nurse this low self regard with self pity. We feel sorry for ourselves and want others to feel sorry for us. And, wallowing in self pity, we make life miserable for ourselves and all those around us. Nobody likes a crybaby - especially when he or she is forty years old. Even a crybaby doesn’t like a crybaby.
We mishandle failure when we make it an excuse for alibis. Our pride won’t let us take the blame so we look around until we can put the blame on someone or something else. When God confronted Adam with his sin, Adam said, “The woman YOU gave me made me do it.” When God confronted Eve, she said, “The snake made me do it.” This beat still goes on...”I didn’t make the team, because the coach doesn’t like me. I didn’t make good grades, because the teacher’s tests are too hard. I didn’t get the promotion, because the boss has his favorites. Our church doesn’t baptize as many as that church, because our church field is far more difficult than theirs...”