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Summary: This sermon deals with how we can move forward despite our failures and failings.

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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.”


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