"My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness"
(2 Cor. 12:9
In his book Failing Forward
, John Maxwell explores growth from the vantage point of failure. For many, failure may seem to be a bad thing—an option that one cannot learn from or embrace. However, not only is failure a part of life, but failure is one of the primary ways we learn. Without failure, there would be no definition of success.
The Bible offers these same conclusions. Jacob, Moses, Miriam, Jeremiah—all of these people (and many more!) failed miserably at various times, yet learned from their mistakes. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul made the point that in our weaknesses God's strength is revealed. Failure doesn't keep us from achieving great things for God. A lack of faith does!
As we look ahead to into the new year, each of us can anticipate that we will fail at some things. (If we are not failing, perhaps we are not being challenged enough!) These failures can serve to make us stronger, smarter, more resilient and more deeply aware of God's grace. Failure is not our primary concern. An unwillingness to risk, to step out in faith, to attempt bold ministry for Christ...these should be our deepest concerns, as they point to complacency and apathy.
In a new year, we can make new and bold decisions for God. We can step out in faith and attempt new ministry. We can fail forward.
When it comes to youth ministry, there can be many definitions of success. We can measure success by numbers, impact, influence or by the level of responsiveness we see among our teenagers; but eventually we all return to some image of faith, the knowledge that God's grace is enough and that we are offering a way for teenagers to carry forward with God, though they fail.
Indeed, 2013 will be a year filled with many failures...for leaders and for teens; but with God's help there will be huge successes. Some teenagers will make commitments to follow Christ. Some will make decisions about their futures. Some will turn around academically or socially. Others will go deeper with God and perhaps become leaders themselves.
We can do great things for God even when we fail. The key is failing forward: growing, learning, trusting. Eventually all success returns to God and the amazing grace that sustains us all.