I’ll never forget my first day of BSSM. Awesome worship, great wisdom from Bill Johnson, and then Kris V. If you’ve ever heard him preach you understand my statement, and then Kris. He’s a wisdom filled, hilarious, tender, prophetic, loving, father that we have the privilege of interacting with and learning from daily. He started off discussing the culture and the school. Then he said something I’ll never forget. He said, in order to pass this school you must fail. You must fail at least three times.
I hated it immediately. Fail? Why would they want us to fail? And worse why would someone in leadership tell me to fail? I don’t like it. I’ve spent my life, from as young as I can remember, determined to never fail. I was a work hard and earn things in life type gal and I did just that. It didn’t matter what I was doing I wanted to succeed. I started out early, I remember being 6 years old and my dad taking me out to the baseball fields on the weekend to practice for hours. I worked so hard I ended up making the all-star team, FOR THE BOYS TEAM. I remember in sixth grade deciding I wanted to be good at basketball and I spent at least two hours everyday practicing. One year later I was at the University of Tennessee camp and made the All-Star team of twelve out of hundreds of girls from all over the nation. It wasn’t just sports, it was anything I decided I had a passion for, felt was expected of me, or I simply wanted to be good at. No matter what it was I had a fierce determination to give it 100%.
Eventually I got saved at 16 and my passion for everything else seemed to fade and I had one main focus. Jesus.
It didn’t take long but the same mindsets I had growing up showed up in my relationship with the Lord. I was going to be the best child He had. I wouldn’t fail Him. I wouldn’t let Him down. I would read the Word for hours a day. I would tell Him, I’LL GO ANYWHERE AND I’LL DO ANYTHING. It doesn’t matter what it costs, it doesn’t matter how uncomfortable it feels, it doesn’t even matter if it costs my life. I often say that I see myself in Peter when he said to Jesus, “I will never deny you, even if I have to follow you into death!”
Now in reality it sounds real noble, doesn't it? The sad part is Peter denied Him three times and I as well have found myself, like Peter, weeping outside the gate when I realized I’d made a mistake. There have been times when I felt so engulfed in my failure I didn't think there was any hope for a bright future. The truth is I found that the root of my devoted prayer wasn’t just love and unending devotion (though those were present), it was a works based mentality that saw failure, weakness, and being unproductive as unacceptable. With that type of mentality then failure becomes a make it or break it issue.
The idea that God was okay with my failure, sympathetic to my weakness, and actually valued relationship over works was such a foreign concept to me when I first got saved. As God began to reveal His true heart to me as a Father, my world began to get wrecked (in a good way). I was overwhelmed by a God who just loves me, regardless of if I loved Him back, regardless of my actions, and despite the many times that I would fail. (Even though I learned this Truth there have been many times over the past few years that I have had to battle this mentality again)
The truth is many of us live terrified of failure. We’re afraid of how God and others will react. We haven’t learned to embrace the aspect of our humanity that demonstrates our weakness and desperate need for God and community.
The Truth is that God really isn’t afraid of your failure. He’s not mad at your failure. He’s not ashamed of your failure. He isn’t even shocked by your failure. Catch this. God knew every mistake you would make BEFORE He sent Jesus to the cross for you, BEFORE He came and inhabited you. Your current weakness isn’t “breaking news” to Him.
The lie is that God is mad at your failure. The lie is that God didn’t see it coming. The lie is that your failure is irreparable.
Now I’m not saying that often our failures don’t cause “messes”, they do and perhaps in another blog we can discuss that issue, but no matter how big your mess, God is bigger still. When we believe these lies we step into condemnation and shame. We must begin to realize that SHAME IS NOT HOLY. Sometimes we can feel more “righteous” because we feel shame. We think that if we feel shame and guilt then that somehow makes our repentance more meaningful. This is a lie the enemy uses to keep us feeling hopeless.
The Truth is the blood of Jesus covers your failures, it covers your “oops”, it covers your mistakes, and it is strong enough to bring you through.
“But thanks be to God, who ALWAYS leads us in TRIUMPH, IN CHRIST” (2 Cor. 2:14)
Failure is inevitable, but how we respond to our failure determines our future.
Be Blessed, J. Tate
I want to note that though the when the school says that we must fail to pass, they do not mean moral failures. They are encouraging us to step out into a realm of faith that requires risk, which ultimately means there will be times we fail. However they also emphasize often that the Church is a safe place for failure even if it is moral failure. We know that God wants us to live a life of integrity and character, but when people do fail, the Church is there to love them back into restoration and wholeness. For more reading on this topic you can check out the book, Culture of Honor by Danny Silk or parts of Hosting His Presence by Bill Johnson.