Monday, July 30, 2018

The Apostle of Those Who Feel Like a Failure

If you ever received an “F” on a report card, blew a big play in sports, or lost a sizable sale, you know what it feels like to fail. Failure is misery. You feel alone, ignorant, and rejected. Peter knew how it felt to fail.

Though impetuous, Peter was not prone to failure. He was the spokesman for the Twelve (Luke 5:5; 12:41) and one of the three who formed the inner circle (Mark 5:37; 9:2). His name heads the lists of the disciples (Mark 3:16). He was the first of the Twelve to acknowledge Jesus as Messiah (Luke 9:20), and to see the risen Lord (Luke 24:34). He became the principal teacher of the new church, a leader filled with God’s power (Acts 3:11–26; 5:1–16). What would such a faithful, dedicated follower know about failure?

While a mighty leader, Peter failed miserably at some crucial moments. He told Jesus to quit talking about His death (Matthew 8:21–23). In their last meal together, he got into an argument with Jesus about washing feet (John 13:4–10). He fell asleep at Gethsemane (Mark 14:37) and tried to kill one of the men who arrested Jesus (John 18:10–11). He disowned Christ publicly and swore he didn’t even know Him (Matthew 26:69–75). Years later, Paul blasted him for folding under pressure (Galatians 2:11–14).

Was he a mighty leader or a miserable failure? Clearly, Peter wasn’t a perfect leader, yet neither was he a complete failure. After the Resurrection, he was instrumental in bringing the Gospel to the Jews and Gentiles.

Of course, Peter could have avoided many of these embarrassing failures by speaking out less, assuming no leadership role, or by turning back with others. He could have refused to answer the call of Christ and stayed in the boat, fishing for the rest of his life. Peter could have avoided failure by avoiding a life of faith.

A life of faith can be frightening to those afraid of taking a risk. Those who desperately want a close relationship with God are sometimes afraid to step out in faith for fear of letting God down. But Peter’s life demonstrates that God’s love is unfailing.

When you feel like a failure, think of Peter. You probably haven’t let Christ down as much as he did. And when you feel afraid to take a risk that faith demands, remember that it’s far better to be a follower who fails than one who fails to follow.