by David Sisler

Roger had never played baseball, but all of his friends were joining Little League, so he signed up. After his first day of practice, his father asked him how he had made out.

Grinning from ear to ear, Roger replied, “The coach says I’m the best of the worst three.”

There is an old saying. If you haven’t said it yourself, someone has said it to you: “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

We automatically think that means if we try again, we will succeed the next time. The chances are very good that we will fail the next time, too. Again and again and again. That is why failure is so important to success.

Pick a sport, any sport. Now think of the person who, in your opinion, most excels at that sport. Did he hit a home run the first time he picked up a bat? Did the ball go over the net into the right court, and with topspin, the first time she served it? Did the diver split the water with barely a ripple the first time she leaped from the spring board? Were the rings perfectly motionless the first time the gymnast attempted an iron cross?

Or do you suppose that the first attempt was a miserable failure? Do you suppose they lost time and time again? Do you suppose that the first victory was a long time in coming? There may be a lot of losing before the first victory is celebrated.

Simon Peter boasted one day of his success. “Lord,” he said, looking around the table at the other disciples, “if all of these fail you, I will not. I will die for you.”

To which Jesus replied, “Before this day is over, you will deny three times that you even know me, let alone die for me.”

And Peter did deny Jesus and then wept bitterly.

After his resurrection, Jesus did something most business leaders would consider risky, if not completely foolish. He took a man who had miserably failed at a relatively simple job, and gave him a promotion. Three times Jesus commissioned Peter: “Feed my sheep. Tend my sheep. Shepherd my sheep.”

Why would Jesus pick a man who denied, complete with cursing, three times even knowing his Lord, and commission that man to be a shepherd over human lives? Because Peter was more useable after his failure than he ever was after his success.

I don’t know about you, but when I hurt inside, if I have the choice of seeking the ministry of a man who holds himself up as a total success, or of a man who recognizes his own failures and knows Christ is his only success, I will go to the “failure” every time.

Joseph was a gifted, but insensitive young man. After he had experienced slavery, been falsely accused of rape, and falsely imprisoned, God elevated Joseph to the second position in Egypt. The humiliation and misuse would have given him compassion for those who reached to him for help.

Aaron, Moses’ brother, was Israel’s first high priest. And yet it was Aaron who gathered gold and fashioned a golden calf and said to Israel, “This is your God.” As a direct consequence of Aaron’s sin, 3000 Israelites were killed.

Do you suppose Aaron would later have responded with hardness to anyone guilty of transgressing the Law, or with mercy and compassion? Recognizing his own sin, I think he would have been inclined to mercy.

Do not misunderstand. You do not have to fail in order to serve God, but with every failure in my life, I understand a greater depth of the forgiveness of Jesus. With every failure, I realize how important success is. With every failure, I am encouraged to follow more closely a Christ who has never failed me, even though I’ve failed him miserably and often.

Does practice make perfect? Only if in your failure, you practice the forgiveness of God. Instead of counting all of your failures, count your one success – the love of God, expressed through his Son.


Copyright 2003 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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