The Life-Changing Lesson I Learned From Failure


Keith Ferrin tells about a time when his mistake was turned into a moment that brought glory to God.

My mind was completely blank. (Which is really bad considering I was on stage in front of about 800 people.) Only two chapters into a Romans presentation and I had no idea what the next word was. Cloaked in the awkward silence, I walked over to where my Bible sat, found the next line, and off I went, finishing the presentation with only a few minor mistakes.

Afterward, I was standing by my product table. A woman came to me and said, I am so glad you messed up. (Seemed a bit strange, so I asked her why.) Her response has stuck with me for years now:

I was so engrossed by what you were doing that I had forgotten you were quoting the Bible. When you messed up and walked over to your Bible, I was reminded that this was straight scripture. I listened to the rest of the presentation just as engaged as I was before, but overwhelmed by how wonderful, beautiful, and ALIVE God’s Word is!

That’s when I realized something incredibly important.

God can use my failure to encourage someone else.

The apostle Paul puts it this way:

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong (II Cor. 12:9-10 NIV).

Now, I certainly don’t enjoy making mistakes. I don’t seek them out. But this experience has changed my perspective quite a bit when they do happen.

Instead of wallowing in the embarrassment of the failure, I try to ask questions like these:

  • What might God be trying to teach me here?
  • How might this failure encourage or teach someone else?
  • How does my response to this failure show – or not show – my trust that God’s power is made perfect in my weakness?

Questions: What about you? What is your response to failure? Have you ever seen God turn your failure into something that served, instructed, or encouraged someone else?

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