Sermons

Summary: Failure teaches us how to succeed

SERIES: IT: Finding It, Keeping It, and Sharing It

(freely adapted from Craig Groeschel’s It: How Churches and Leader Can Get it and Keep it)

“YOU FAIL TOWARD IT”

SELECTED SCRIPTURES

OPEN

Graduates, we recognize your accomplishments. You have earned your diplomas and are ready to move on in life. We pray that you will live in a way that honors Jesus Christ. This morning, I’m not doing a message specifically for you. I originally intended to preach this message last Sunday. But as I worked on this message several weeks ago, I knew that it had lessons for you as well as the rest of our congregation.

We’re continuing on this morning in our series: IT: Finding It, Keeping It, and Sharing It. The first message was “What is it?” We defined it this way – “It is what God does through a rare combination of certain qualities found in his people.” Those qualities are: 1. A passion for his presence 2. A deep craving to reach the lost 3. Sincere integrity 4. Spirit-filled faith 5. Down-to-earth humility 6. Brokenness.

Our second message began a study of the traits that marked churches that had it and for us to learn how we can develop those traits in our congregation The first trait was a God-given, God-breathed vision and we said that “You Can See It Clearly.” The second trait was the importance of teamwork and we said that “We Experience It Together.” The third trait was innovation and we said “You’ll Do Anything For It.” The fourth trait was last week and it was about sharing the gospel because ‘You Want Others to Have It.” Today’s message is “You Fail Toward It.”

This morning we’re going to look at a concept that you may never have considered before: Failure is essential to success. Thomas Edison said, “To double your success rate, you must double your failure rate.”

I know that most of you have heard the old adage: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” That doesn’t mean “continue in failure.” It means try it again; just don’t try the same way again. Try a different way. Someone cleverly put it this way: “If at first you don’t succeed, try second base.”

Sometimes what appears to be a failure at the moment is simply success trying to be born in a bigger and better way. John Maxwell says “…..I know of only one factor that separates those who consistently shine from those who don’t: The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.” Maxwell also says, ““To achieve your dreams, you must embrace adversity and make failure a regular part of your life. If you’re not failing you’re probably not really moving forward.”

Churches with it fail often. They have leaders who are aggressive, do-what-it-takes, think-skinned people who are willing to make mistakes. They’re not afraid to fail. In contrast, churches without it are usually the ones playing it safe, doing only what is sure to succeed.

I know it sounds counter-intuitive – it doesn’t seem to make sense – but failing can often help a church experience it. On the other hand, being overly cautious can kill it in a church.

I want to share with you some principles concerning failure. They will challenge you and stretch your thinking process. Hopefully you will learn that failure isn’t final as long as you keep on working, seeking, and serving.

EXPECT TO FAIL

I think that one of the greatest lessons that you learn in sports is that you can’t win them all. No athlete goes through an entire career without suffering a loss of some kind. The best basketball players in the world only hit about fifty percent of their shots. A baseball player that gets a hit thirty percent of the time is considered an all-star. Babe Ruth is one of the greatest home run hitters of all time. He struck out twice as many times as he hit a home run. But Ruth expressed his knowledge of how failure leads to success by saying, “Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.”

One of the best parts of being a parent is when you’re children start to walk There is joy in watching the process: rolling over to sitting up to crawling to standing up to finally stepping out with no visible means of support. When children take their first step, their eyes grow huge with a mixture of excitement and fear as they wobble around like a two-foot tall Frankenstein. And no matter what – whether it’s after the first step or the third step – they always fall. Always.

Imagine if, immediately following their first tumble, one of the children thinks: Well, I gave it a shot. Things didn’t work out. I’m not meant to be a walker. I guess I’ll just crawl the rest of my life.

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