Is There Room For Failure?

I want to introduce you to another friend of Consumed….Mr. Tim Benedict. He will contribute to this site from time to time. Tim truly resonates with the message of life and has been an ally to Consumed. He led a group of men from Northeast PA in a Fully Alive Group and saw God work in amazing ways. I broke my personal rule about double blogging (sorry Abs) because the entry below is beneficial for you to read. So here it is…”Is there Room For Failure?”

I enjoyed a long conversation with a close friend of mine this week. I walked away from this conversation reflecting on something that ruffled the ‘force’ a little for me this week. It’s an expectation that almost bothers me, that is if I didn’t find it within me from time to time. I guess I’d call it the expectation of ‘perfection,’ or maybe overall-progress. It’s the expectation that came out of the industrial revolution–the promise that our intellectual abilities and skills could only lead us to amazing progress, if not earthly perfection. But history in a nutshell only proves this promise wrong, brutally wrong–or at least forgot to mention that this ‘perfection’ would only come at the cost of selling our soul to the Devil. What I mean is that it’s hard to define recent ‘human’ history as ‘progress.’ Thus, we live in the days of great mistrust of these promises–the alienation couldn’t be deeper. And on and on we could go.

But not to many of us live there. So let me explain where we do live, or at least where my journey has been so far. Christianity. Church. Bible Colleges. Ministry. The Christian life. The goal? Progress. The expectation? Progress. The Measure of progress? Progress. What is progress? Success. What is success? Growth. The enemy? Failure. You see, the promise affected Christianity too.

Is there room for failure? Sadly, not really. Christianity rejects pastors who fail to start churches and turn them into megachurches, emerging churches, matchbox churches, small group churches, or any other textbook organization. People who fail aren’t given contracts to write books. They aren’t selected to join Evangelical Theological Society. They don’t get to join the clubs.

And that’s sad, if not depressing. Because people who know failure seem to change the world. They can become men and women–real men and women. And my favorite one is, God seems to think so too. If you think I’m full of it tonight, check out Paul’s thoughts in his letter to the Philippians. Somehow I doubt that to Church Growth experts, sharing Christ’s sufferings would be characterized by “success” or “progress.” And for some reason, this whole loss thing seemed to really be precious to Paul, and others like Peter and John.

So, maybe we need to redefine success. Maybe Church-Growth Experts needs to re-examine what growth looks like. Maybe we need to stop being so hard on each other when we don’t live up to expectations, and when we fail. Maybe we should expect hardships, difficulties, trials, even failure in our journeys.

What if failure is actually the crucible in which true, godly character is formed in the children of God. What if this whole journey thing is about learning, and not about achieving progress. Do you think maybe we need to walk by faith into the future, so that when our endeavors seem to be a failure to everyone around us, we can have courage to keep moving and speaking into the future? It’s funny that when we fail, we need people the most. Maybe God’s trying to get our attention. I hope He’s got mine for more than five minutes tonight.