The month of May is pretty spectacular—wouldn’t you agree? The warm weather is finally returning after the long cold winter, the leaves and flowers are budding, and the air is filled with a sweet smell.
And of course…school is almost over!
Yes, the seemingly endless hours inside the walls and the sometimes frightening jaunts down the halls of our academic institutions creates an enduring longing for the freedom. And summer break provides it!
And for many seniors, this is the last month they’ll have their name called for attendance—at least in high school—because they’re graduating!
So in honor of those seniors headed off to new adventures (and those who one day plan to), I will share one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes:
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…”
― from Oh, The Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
So true! Each of us has a decision to make about where we want to go in our lives, and there’s a place that I’m recommending you go, that you may perhaps be fearful of. It’s a place called defeat.
In other words, I hope you fail!
Notice I did not say that I hope you are a failure. Rather, I hope that at some point in your life you experience some level of letdown and disappointment in a way that you will never forget.
Because despite all that you have been taught about succeeding and winning and excelling—which are all good things by the way—I doubt you had a class called “The Benefits of Failure,” right?
But truth be told, failing at something might be the best thing that ever happened to you in the long run. Here’s the way C.S. Lewis put it: “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.”
I can’t help but think about the Apostle Peter. His name means “the Rock—and to be sure—he was a pillar of the early church and a major impetus in the rise of Christianity.
But he also could be called a colossal catastrophe; because he betrayed Jesus Christ at a level few of us will ever know:
They grabbed Him at this point and took Him away to the high priest’s home. Peter followed—at a distance. He watched from the shadows as those who had seized Jesus made a fire in the center of the courtyard and sat down around it. Then Peter slipped in quietly and sat with them. But a young servant girl saw his face in the firelight. She stared for a while and then spoke.
Servant Girl: This fellow here was with Jesus. I recognize him.
Peter (denying it): Woman, I don’t even know the man.
A little later, a man also recognized him.
Man: I recognize you. You’re one of Jesus’ followers.
Peter: Man, you’re wrong. I’m not.
An hour or so passed, and then another person pointed to Peter.
Another Person: This fellow is obviously Galilean. He must be a member of Jesus’ group.
Peter: Look, I have no idea what you’re talking about.
And he hadn’t even finished the sentence when a nearby rooster crowed. The Lord turned toward Peter, and their eyes met. Peter remembered Jesus’ words about his triple denial before the rooster would crow, so he left the courtyard and wept bitter tears (Luke 22:54-62, The Voice).
I don’t know about you, but if I had denied Jesus to His face the night before His crucifixion, I would not only weep bitter tears, I would bail on the whole deal. And that’s exactly what Peter did! He went back to fishing, and I think his greatest desire at that point was to bury his failure at the bottom of the sea.
But just a few days later, the resurrected Jesus met with him personally, and not only did He not lecture Peter about that disastrous event, He actually restored him to ministry!
In other words, Peter’s failure took him to a place of humility and openness that he had never before had in his character. It made him teachable and dependent on Jesus Christ for his life’s calling, and 40 days later, Peter gave the gospel to thousands of people and the majority of them trusted in Christ for salvation!
So as you participate or attend a graduation, celebrate the successes of the past year, but don’t forget the failures you’ve experienced, as well. They are wise teachers who pass along lessons that cannot be learned any other way. And as each of us heads out into our future, let’s not be afraid of failing, rather let’s dedicate ourselves to THE Cause and “fail” forward for the sake Christ and the advancement of His Kingdom in the lives of everyone around us!
Flashpoint: Ignite Into Action
Graduation season is a great time to remember that we can learn as much from our failures as we do our successes, so reflect back on what God has taught you when you have blown it, and ask Him to help you be successful in advancing THE Cause in your world.
Accelerant: Fuel for THE Cause
Pray: Father, thank you that You love us unconditionally, and not based on our successes and failures. Please give us a new perspective on our past and continue to teach us in the future.
Read: Romans 5:3-5. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love./p>
Get: InZane. Zane Black graduated from high school looking for all the crazy excitement and adventure life has to offer. He just ended up “going all in” for the wrong things. And it almost cost him his life. But after years of living for cheap thrills and temporary highs, Zane experienced a radical encounter with Jesus that changed his life forever. Told in his raw, honest, conversational style, InZane…Totally Stoked on this Jesus Dude captures Zane’s journey from a party boy to a committed Christian. His story will keep you turning the page, all the while challenging you to put Jesus at the center of your life.
Discussion Guide for Leaders
Want to use this Soul Fuel as a bible study with your students this week? Copy and text them the following: “None of us like to fail, but something beneficial may come of it. Read about it in this week’s devo: http://hubs.ly/y0LYQ10“
Big Idea: We can oftentimes learn more from our failures than we can from our successes.
Key Scripture: Luke 22:54-62
- What would you consider some of your failures?
- Do you think we can learn more from failure than success? Why or why not?
- How have your failures impacted your relationship with Jesus?
- How can you apply this Soul Fuel to THE Cause?