Failure is a common experience shared by all who serve in ministry. May this article as it appeared in a series in the Baptist Testimony, the Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches newsletter, encourage our hearts and help us deal with failure in a God-honoring manner.When faced with failure, ponder the following questions:
1. Have I been guilty of making comparisons? Each of us is God’s own special person.
2. Have I developed a right attitude toward failure and disappointments? Leave no room for bitterness.
3. Have I discovered the kind of person that I am? We are products of our parents, peers, and past.
4. Have I taken a long-term view of my ministry? This is God’s only view.
5. Have I caught the PLOM disease (Poor Little Old Me)?
6. Have I remembered that God keeps the records?
7. Have I sought to sit at Jesus’ feet and find His will? Let us stay in the Word even through tough times.
8. Have I educated myself on the principles of conflict resolution? They are for us too!
9. Have I majored on my gifts or on the fruit of the Spirit? Let us examine this question carefully.
10. Have I remembered that I am in a spiritual warfare and Satan is my enemy?
11. Have I made the psalms my supplications? We can pray the Scriptures when we don’t have words to say.
12. Have I learned to forgive and forget? Time can heal if our hearts are right.
Scripture gives us many examples of those called of God who failed somewhere along the way. Those accounts encourage us that there is hope—life after failure! When you face failure, consider three examples of men in ministry who failed God, and think about the reasons they failed and how God met them where they were. In essence they were three preachers who wanted to quit! All three men were called by God, equipped by God, sent by God, and used by God. However, their weaknesses or failures exceeded their strengths.
Observe the following patterns of responding to failure from the lives of Moses (Numbers 11:10–17), Elijah (1 Kings 19:1–8, 13–16), and Jonah (Jonah 1:1—2:1; 3:1, 2). Let us learn from their experiences to ready ourselves for times of failure that lie ahead.
* Moses lost his confidence, Elijah lost his courage, and Jonah lost his compassion.
* Moses felt inadequate, Elijah felt insignificant, and Jonah was insincere.
* Moses said, “I can’t”; Elijah said, “I’m nothing”; and Jonah said, “I won’t!”
* Moses quit because he couldn’t do the job, Elijah quit because he was the only one to do the job, and Jonah just didn’t want the job!
* Moses lost his focus on God, Elijah lost his faith in God, and Jonah lost his fear of God.
* Moses was feeble, Elijah was fatigued, and Jonah was foolish.
* Moses was willing to die, Elijah wanted to die, and Jonah insisted on dying.
* Moses’ decision to quit took three days; Elijah’s, a few hours; and Jonah’s, just a few minutes—maybe seconds.
* Moses was buried in the desert; Elijah, in a cave; and Jonah, in the sea.
* Moses learned to receive help, Elijah learned to be a recipient of ministry, and Jonah learned to pray.
During times of failure, let’s keep our focus on Christ. We must remember the greatness of God, and we must not forget the purpose of our call!
Maynard H. Belt, State Representative
Michigan Association of Regular Baptist Churches
Grand Rapids, Michigan