December 31, 2009

The Gift of Failure

John 21:15-19

“Do you love me more than these?”
John 21:15


In 1979, De Paul University basketball player Skip Dillard needed to complete two free throws to win the game. He missed them both, and De Paul, the number one team in the nation, was booted from the first round of the NCAA tournament. After that game, Dillard was never the same. He had run-ins with the law and spent time in prison. In a TV interview, he said the missed free throws haunted him because he had failed.

Peter knew he had failed Jesus. No one had to tell him. But Jesus used that failure to help Peter grow.

How can Jesus use failure for our spiritual growth? Failure is not fatal in the eyes of Jesus. Failure teaches us that we need a Savior.

Peter heard the word “love” from the lips of Jesus again. Jesus was not testing him but reaffirming his love for Peter by asking him to reaffirm his love for Jesus.

Peter also learned that Jesus had not given up on him. Jesus came directly to him and called him to lead again. Jesus offered Peter an opportunity to lead by dying to himself. Jesus even predicted that in his death Peter would glorify God.

Peter had wandered, so Jesus had to get him back on track. As Lord and Savior, he calls the shots in our lives.

Failure can bring us back to the Lord, who finds us and gives us another opportunity to follow him.

Lord, forgive me when I fail, and help me to learn that even my failure can be used for your glory. Keep me focused on you, and help me to serve you faithfully. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Reginald Smith

Dr. Reginald Smith is senior pastor at Roosevelt Park Community Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he has served for seventeen years. He has also served as a pastor in Paterson, New Jersey. He and his wife, Sharon, have three daughters, Janelle, Katrina, and Mariah.

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