Failure Is Important
A wonderful preacher and teacher made the decision to leave the church I attended. The reasons for his departure were never discussed at that time, but many in the congregation were sorrowful at this announcement from the pastor. I will never forget that pastor’s statement as he said, “I have some good news and some bad news. Brother Richard has decided to leave the church. I do not know why, so you can ask him. And my daughter is getting married.”
In retrospect, I did not immediately know which statement was the good news or the bad news. Why? For years that pastor continuously preached that it is not God’s perfect will for persons from different races and/or cultures to marry, yet now, his daughter was going to marry such a man.
I did know that the brother leaving was a Godly man who had held every office in the scriptures, had spent his life in the ministry and most importantly…he taught us to think!
It was not long after the departure of Brother Richard that the rumors and accusations began to manifest themselves. We were instructed by the leadership not to discuss the matter, but the more we remained silent, the greater became our distress and frustration.
This brother’s leaving came at a time when others had also left the church which heightened the tensions and added fuel to the fire of accusations. All of the haphazard attempts by church leaders to clarify matters and put an end to the ever increasing mistrust only added more chaos and confusion within the body of members. Basically, they just ran for cover in the hopes that this storm would blow over, but people continued to talk. The church leadership became frustrated and angry, retreating into the protection of their offices. Why? Simple! They knew the truth; all of them knew the exact reason why this brother left the church. As time went by even some of the leadership began to make plans for their departure.
The church also had a Bible Institute and the students had been taught about importance of honesty and openly admitting one’s faults. “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Many of the graduates were a part of the church leadership and now all of that learning had become a noose around their necks. Their obedience to a man, instead of their rightful obedience to God, was the greater fault.
The greatest leaders take risks that involve creating an open dialogue which will suppress speculations, dissolve dissatisfaction and conquer complexity. They are not those who merely set a course and convince others to follow by the force of their will. Great leaders never hide from chaos; they immerse themselves into the fray and welcome the uproar that leads to openness. They are those leaders who know their faults, admit their mistakes and are willing to hear how others perceive them.
Leaders are not born to lead, neither are they trained to lead. They have the ability to do so because they have watched someone else do what they never imagined they could do, but now find themselves in such a position. Most believe that problems are to be avoided or managed and only use these difficulties as a launching pad to blame and accuse. No one, no, not one, can ever lead effectively until they fail and experience the growth that comes from failure. One does not have to look very deeply into the life of the Apostle Paul to immediately see that his leadership was based upon grace was more important than his competency. In fact, the majority of God’s chosen leaders within the scriptures had numerous faults and experienced many failures.
God uses those leaders who know they are at times timid, confused and broken. He has a special regard for rebels and fools; those who rebel against injustice and are foolish enough to buck the traditions of men. Those who jump into the fight will suffer injuries and become broken, but in their weak, troubled and broken state they serve a unique purpose because they can be used of God. It is through their weakness that grace bursts through and the Lord is magnified.
Those in the ministry are there to lead believers to true repentance and increased faith for many believers are not openly healthy, happy or holy. What better way to do so than to first transform the leaders who are those persons in need of grace even more than those they teach, encourage, guide and serve.
One might have thought Paul to be crazy when he said: “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
It is here that God reveals the true paradox of all leadership: “weakness is strength.” Failure is important!