Summary: This sermon deals with how we can move forward despite our failures and failings.
Learning To Fail Forward
Last week in our Sunday Night movie, “Facing the Giants,” the main character felt like a complete failure. Some of the parents were talking about firing him as head coach, and even one of his assistant coaches was a part of it. And to make matters worse he had just found out that the reason he and his wife couldn’t have children was because of him.
And it got me thinking about this whole idea of failing or being a failure. Now it’s easy to say that no one is a failure, which is true, and that God doesn’t look upon any of us as failure. Or I could use some of the common platitudes and quotes like
• “Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.”
• C.S. Lewis said, “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success,” or
• Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
And yet knowing all of this we failure still haunts us and over the course of this life we still feel like failures. Our marriage has failed, we lost our jobs, we’ve been evicted, or our kids are out of control.
And so we hide our failures even though we live in a culture that’s okay with failure, puts it on display, and understands that it’s a part of our pathway to success.
Recently I heard of a story of how Ben and Jerry’s have a “Flavor Graveyard.” It’s a graveyard for all the flavors that “died.” Each of these flavors had their own unique headstone. For Peanut Butter and Jelly it reads,
R.I.P. Peanut Butter and Jelly
An unbeatable duo!
Yet somehow it managed
To flop in a cone,
So we stuck to the sammich.
1989 – 1990
Failure is not something to hide from or hide from others, rather it’s a reality of life and one where we can learn and grow. The Apostle Paul gives to us a little taste of his life and the way he views those things that didn’t always work out in his life, or his failures.
“For what I am doing, I do not understand. For what I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do.” (Romans 7:15 NKJV)
But even though he may have failed, he continued to press forward.
“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (Philippians 3:12 NKJV)
Paul not only made mistakes, but also knew we would as well, even if we were well meaning about them. And so as he encouraged himself he also encourages us to press on, to move forward in spite of our failings.
Like Baskin and Robins, let’s put our failures in the ground, celebrate them, but move on knowing that God has a plan and a purpose; that God has a calling upon our lives and He needs for us to move forward in spite of our failings.
And so today I’d like to talk with you about how we can “Fail Forward.”
1. Don’t Give Into Self-Condemnation
“There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1 NKJV)
One of the main reasons why we don’t move forward after some difficulty is because of condemnation, not from others so much, but from ourselves. This is why we repeat every Sunday morning our maxim.
“We are mighty men and women of valor, because we are greater in the eyes of God than we are in our own eyes. And while our hearts may condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows what truly lies within.”
This comes from the life of Gideon, and Gideon felt like a failure. He said that He was the least within his family, his clan, and within the Jewish nation. It doesn’t get any lower than that. Yet, this is not the way God saw him. Instead of a failure, God saw Gideon as a mighty man of valor.
And this is exactly how God sees each and every one of us, so we need to stop condemning ourselves and start moving forward, living lives for Jesus despite how we might feel.
The Apostle John tells us the same thing that we’re not failures, even though our heart may think differently, and the truth is that God’s thoughts about us are far greater than what we think about ourselves.
“For if our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and knows all things.” (1 John 3:20 NKJV)