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Hauser: Going forward through failure

One of the inevitable events in life is failure. Perhaps you have experienced failure recently;  received a DUI, marriage or significant relationship ended, grades are worse than your capability, struggling at work, spiritually you have fizzled or flopped, an addiction traps you, moral failure, parenting blunder. Maybe you feel like you are in a season of failure. There is no one big event, but a lot of little things that add up and you aren’t who or where you want to be.

Failure is not to be feared, but the dangers of failing are that we believe we are failures or we allow failure to be the final chapter. Both of these scenarios are absolutely tragic. So, how do we grow forward through failure?

One of the most powerful examples is found in the crucifixion scene of Jesus Christ. Jesus was betrayed, illegally arrested, abandoned and put on trial. Pilate had Jesus flogged and crucified to satisfy the crowd. On each side of Jesus hung a hardened criminal who reacted to failure very differently (Luke 23:32-43).

For one criminal, failure was final. He died in bitterness, denial, anger, rebellion and pride. That is a tough way to live and die.

The other thief modelled the healing steps we must take to fail forward. First, he honestly admitted who he was. Transparency does not ensure progress, but it opens the door! It is impossible to move from denial to health. But, you can move from sickness to health, from failure to success, when there is an honest admission of who you are, what you did, or what wound is affecting you. You will never get better in any area of your life if you don’t admit who you are.  

Next, the thief admired who Jesus is. When failure comes you have to first look within and then you have to look up to your creator; the one who suffered unbelievable pain and showed unbelievable courage, to provide you a path back to health.

And then the thief humbly asked for forgiveness. Before getting married, my father-in-law taught me the 12 most important words in a marriage: I am sorry, I was wrong, please forgive me, I love you. Those 12 words can strengthen and heal any relationship. Why don’t we say those words more often?

The fourth step the thief took was he accepted God’s plan. How much of our failure in life is because we pursued our plan and left God out of the picture? Truth be told, at this point as he is near death, this thief had no other option. Yet, Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Even while suffering the greatest pain and betrayal a human has ever faced, Jesus forgave him and included him. Wow, what a game changer in my life. I encourage you this Easter to take these same four steps to fail forward.

God bless you. See you next Sunday!

Hauser is the founding and senior pastor at Prairie Heights in Fargo-Moorhead and can be reached at jon@prairieheights.com

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