Tag Archives: mistakes

An Excellent Failure (ANECDOTE)


Success is 99 Percent FailureI was at a meeting with some of our leaders from part of my ministry a few weeks ago, and we were discussing the topic of failure and how it is perceived within our organization.  We agreed that there is an unspoken rule that failure is NOT okay.  We will go to great lengths to prevent failure or even to cover it up and make it look like success when it does happen.  
 
Why do we do this?  It’s not biblical.  Jesus let His disciples fail on a regular basis.  Here are a few examples.  They failed when they:
  • Tried to cast out an unclean spirit from a boy
  • Were asked to feed the 5,000
  • Argued about who would be the greatest in the Kingdom
  • Walked on water
  • Tried to stay awake and pray with Jesus before His arrest
  • Defended Jesus against the soldiers
  • Denied knowing Jesus
You may think I’m cynical, but I believe Jesus even set them up for failure on certain occasions.  He knew that they wouldn’t succeed, but He let them try anyway.  Why?  Because failure gives birth to growth and learning, maturity, character, humility, a teachable spirit, dependence on God, empathy for others, and even innovation, transformation, and revival!  We learn sooooo much more from our failures than we do from our successes.  Are we missing out on God’s best for us when we work so hard not to fail?
 
Recognizing this problem in their culture, here’s what one region of our ministry did.  They flipped failure on its head.  Instead of hiding failures, they required their leaders to celebrate them.  In every leader’s performance appraisal for the past few years, they have had to share an “excellent failure” for which they were personally responsible.  An “excellent failure” is a failure that taught you something, that gave you a new perspective, that prepared you, that matured you, that shaped you to be more like Christ.  It’s a failure that produces a harvest in your life or ministry.  
 
And for it to count, you have to own it.  You’ve got to identify what you did or did not do that made things go wrong.  You’ve got to say, “I failed,” or else the failure has no power to change you.  You can’t dilute it by saying “we” or “my team” or “because they.”  There may be truth in those statements, but the failure won’t be transformational for you until you acknowledge your part.
 
So, what do you think?  Do you have the courage to own your failure?  Are you willing to put your name on it and see what God is willing to do with a transparent and humble leader?
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. ~ 2 Corinthians 12:9
 
Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. ~ John 12:24
 
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again… ~ Proverbs 24:16

 

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Filed under Failure, Humility, test, Transformation, Transparency, Trial

Weakness (DEVOTION)


As a group, read the following Scriptures, and then discuss the questions below.

  • Psalm 10:2 (the wicked man hunts down the weak)
  • Psalm 41:1-3 (blessed are those who have regard for the weak)
  • Isaiah 40:29-31 (He increases the power of the weak)
  • Ezekiel 34:16 (I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak)
  • Acts 20:35 (we must help the weak)
  • Romans 8:26 (the Spirit helps us in our weakness)
  • Romans 14:1-4 (accept the one whose faith is weak)
  • Romans 15:1 (bear with the failings of the weak)
  • 1 Corinthians 1:26-29 (God chose the weak things to shame the strong)
  • 1 Corinthians 9:22-23 (to the weak, I became weak)
  • 1 Corinthians 12:21-26 (the weaker parts of the body are indispensable)
  • 2 Corinthians 11:30 (I will boast of the things that show my weakness)
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (for when I am weak, then I am strong)
  • Hebrews 5:1-3 (the high priest is subject to weakness)
  1. How does God feel about weakness?
  2. How is this different from how the world often feels about and acts toward weakness?
  3. How are we called to respond to weakness?
  4. How do these Scriptures relate to the weaknesses people have in regard to the work that they do and the relationships that they are in?
  5. Do you think God wants us to fix our weaknesses?  Why or why not?

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Filed under acceptance, Agape Love, Bullying, Challenges, Devotion, Humility, Kindness, Love, Relationships, self-image, Self-worth, spiritual disciplines, Spiritual Growth, Spiritual Health, Strengths, struggles, temptation, Weakness

Finding God’s Path


Time

30 minutes

Description

This object lesson teaches about the challenges involved in seeking God’s will as we do our daily walk.

Materials

  • Masking tape
  • 150 note cards
  • A marker or something to write with
  • Answer Keys for Facilitator and Volunteers (attached)
  • (Optional) A prize for the winner

Preparation

· Using the masking tape, mark off a grid with five columns and 20 rows (see Answer Keys at the end of this lesson for an illustration).

o If you have access to a tiled floor, you can just use the tiles as your grid.

· Number twenty of your note cards 1-20. (Do this twice.)

· Letter five of your note cards A to E. (Do this twice.)

· Tape these next to the outside borders of your grid. The numbers are for the rows, and the letters are for the columns. (See the Answer Keys for an illustration.)

· Place a large “X” on 25 of the remaining note cards. (Make sure that the ink doesn’t show through the paper.)

· Write the word “SIN” on 20 of the note cards. (Make sure that the ink doesn’t show through.)

· Using the “Answer Key – Facilitator’s Copy” page as a model, tape the 25 “X” note cards and the 20 “SIN” note cards face down in the appropriate spaces of the grid. (Only tape one edge, so that it is easy for kids to lift the note card and look for the “X.”)

· Tape the rest of the blank note cards face down in the empty grid spaces. Make sure that they look like the marked note cards so that kids will not be able to tell from looking at them which have an “X” and which do not.

Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

· “As we do our best to follow the Lord on the path that He has planned for us, it is often difficult to know what His will is and what next step He would have us take.”

· “One of the things that can help us is getting advice from godly people, like your parents or leaders in the church.”

· “We are going to do an activity that will help us understand this way of seeking God’s will in our lives.”

· “This grid represents the path that God has set before you.” (Point out the grid.)

· “Each square/rectangle in the grid represents a step that you could take.”

· “There are three types of steps indicated by the note cards that are taped face down in each space:

o Some of the note cards have an “X” on them. This is God’s best path for you, where you will receive His full blessing.

o Some of the note cards are blank. This is an okay step to take, but it’s not God’s best for you. You can still experience His blessing, but it won’t be as strong.

o Some of the note cards have the word, “SIN,” written on them. This is a step that leads you to do something you shouldn’t.”

· “To help you make the right decision which step to take, you will be able to get advice each turn from one godly person.”

· “I need four volunteers to help me by being our godly people.” (Select volunteers, and share the following instructions. If you don’t have enough kids to use four volunteers, you can give a volunteer more than one Answer Key and have him/her use their best judgment when giving advice.)

· “Each of these four volunteers is a godly person in your life – someone you can go to for advice about what the next step in your walk should be.”

· “Before you take a step, you can pick one (only one) and ask for his/her advice.”

· “Each of them will have an Answer Key for the grid.” (Hand out a different Answer Key to each volunteer, and ask them not to let anyone see it – not even the other volunteers.)

· “Their Answer Keys are all different. No one has all the correct answers, so who you choose to get godly advice from will be important.”

· “When you ask one of the volunteers for their advice, they will tell you what space they think you should step to using the column letter plus the row number. For example, ‘Space A-3.’”

· “If they don’t have any information for you on their sheet, they will simply say, ‘I don’t know,’ and you will have to guess which space to step onto.”

· “Once you touch a space in the grid, your choice is final.”

· “You should bend down and flip up the note card so that you can see what is on the other side.”

o “If you step on a space with an “X” note card, you get to go again.”

o “If you step on a space with a blank note card, you get to hold your place, but you cannot go again until everyone else has had a try.”

o “If you step on a space with a “SIN” note card, you lose your turn and have to start over after everyone else has had a try.”

· “Leave the note card flipped over so that others will benefit from your experience.”

· “The first person to step on the “X” space on Row 20 wins! (Blank spaces will not count as a win.)”

· “What questions do you have?” (Answer any questions. Then start the activity.)


Debrief Questions

Once the activity is complete, award a prize for the winner if you would like. Then, gather the kids and debrief with the following questions before ending the lesson.

o “How was this activity like trying to figure out God’s will for your life?”

o “How did you feel when you asked a godly person (volunteer) for advice, and he/she couldn’t give you any?”

§ “How is this like real life?”

o “How did you feel when you asked a godly person (volunteer) for advice, and he/she gave you the wrong answer?”

§ “How is this like real life?”

o “How did wrong answers make you feel about asking that person for advice the next time around?”

o “How do you know when to trust people’s advice and when not to?”

o “Why do some people have good advice to share about some things but not about others?”

o “What difference would it have made if you had been able to ask more than one godly person for advice before you took a step?”

o “What lessons can you take away from this activity?”


Answer Key – Facilitator’s Copy

A

B

C

D

E

1

Sin

X

Sin

1

2

X

Sin

2

3

Sin

X

Sin

3

4

X

Sin

4

5

X

X

X

5

6

X

6

7

Sin

Sin

X

7

8

X

X

Sin

8

9

X

9

10

X

Sin

Sin

10

11

X

X

X

Sin

11

12

X

12

13

Sin

X

Sin

13

14

X

14

15

Sin

X

15

16

X

16

17

X

Sin

17

18

X

Sin

18

19

X

19

20

Sin

Sin

X

Sin

20

A

B

C

D

E


Answer Key – Volunteer #1

A

B

C

D

E

1

X

1

2

X

2

3

X

3

4

X

4

5

5

6

6

7

7

8

8

9

9

10

10

11

X

X

11

12

12

13

X

13

14

X

14

15

X

15

16

16

17

17

18

18

19

19

20

20

A

B

C

D

E


Answer Key – Volunteer #2

A

B

C

D

E

1

X

1

2

X

2

3

X

3

4

X

4

5

X

X

X

5

6

X

6

7

X

7

8

8

9

9

10

10

11

11

12

X

12

13

X

13

14

14

15

X

15

16

16

17

17

18

18

19

19

20

20

A

B

C

D

E


Answer Key – Volunteer #3

A

B

C

D

E

1

X

1

2

X

2

3

X

3

4

X

4

5

X

5

6

X

6

7

X

7

8

X

8

9

X

9

10

X

10

11

X

11

12

12

13

X

13

14

X

14

15

15

16

X

16

17

X

17

18

X

18

19

X

19

20

X

20

A

B

C

D

E


Answer Key – Volunteer #4

A

B

C

D

E

1

X

1

2

X

2

3

X

3

4

4

5

5

6

6

7

7

8

8

9

9

10

10

11

X

11

12

X

12

13

13

14

14

15

15

16

X

16

17

17

18

X

18

19

19

20

20

A

B

C

D

E


Answer Key – Statistics

This page is just for the facilitator’s information and may be useful during the debrief. It shows how many of the “godly advisors” had correct and incorrect answers for each space.

A

B

C

D

E

1

4

1

2

4

2

3

4

3

4

2

1

4

5

1

2

1

5

6

1

1

6

7

2

7

8

0

1

8

9

0

1

9

10

0

1

10

11

1

1

2

11

12

2

12

13

3

13

14

1

1

14

15

2

15

16

2

16

17

1

17

18

2

18

19

1

19

20

1

20

A

B

C

D

E

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Filed under Christianity, Daily walk, God's Will, Hands-on, Obedience, Object Lesson, Trust

Cracked Pots


Time

10 minutes

Description

This object lesson teaches about how God uses everything for His purposes – even the things we don’t like about ourselves. If you act out the story, it can get a little messy (just with water), so you should consider that when selecting your teaching space.

Materials

These materials are optional. They are props for you to use when you tell the story.

  • Broomstick or 3” dowel rod – approximately five feet long
  • Twine or rope
  • Drill and ¾” (or larger) drillbit
  • Hammer
  • Scissors
  • Water for your two flower pots
  • Two plastic flower pots
  • Several potted plants or flowers
  • Bible

Preparation

· Drill a hole in both ends of the broomstick or dowel rod

· Drill three holes (equally spaced) around the top rim of each flower pot

· Use the hammer to put a crack in the side of one of the flower pots about halfway up. It’s important that the crack leaks steadily, but you don’t want it so big that all your water will pour out at once.

· Cut the twine or rope into six, three foot pieces.

· Thread each piece of twine or rope through a different hole in the two buckets, and tie it off on the outside of the buckets.

· Thread the three lengths of twine or rope from each bucket into one end of the broomstick or dowel rod.

· Make sure that the three lengths are identical, then tie the three lengths or twine or rope together on the opposite side of the broomstick or dowel rod from where you threaded them in. (Do this to both buckets.)

· You should now have two water buckets on either end of the pole. During the storytelling, you will carry the pole on your shoulders.

· Set out your potted plants or flowers on one side of the room, where you will be able to walk by and spill water on them. Leave the other side of this “path” empty of flowers or plants.

· Practice the script with your props.


Procedure

Use the following script (or modify to suit your needs):

· “Today, we are going to look at a story from the Bible about a Pharisee and a Tax Collector.”

· “During the first century when Jesus walked the earth, everyone thought Pharisee’s were ‘the best people.’ They were leaders in the church, who seemed to be very spiritual, and people thought that God must love them because they were rich.”

· “Tax collectors were considered to be ‘the worst people,’ because they were Jews who collected taxes for Rome and often stole money from the Jewish people.”

· “In this story, Jesus challenged peoples’ ideas about who were the most godly people.” (Get a volunteer to read Luke 18:9-14.)

· “So what do you think Jesus was trying to tell the people about being godly?” (Look for responses that involve the concepts of humility, pride, doing things just for show, authenticity, integrity, reprentance…)

· “You know, that story reminds me of another one…”

· “It is a story about a farmer who had to make a long walk for water each day down to the stream, where the clear water flowed.”

· “To carry the water back, he used two, large, pots that he had fashioned with his own hands. These he hung on either end of a long pole that he carried across his neck and shoulders.” (Show the pole with the two empty flower pots.)

· “Though both pots had seen some years, one was still in perfect condition.” (Show perfect pot.)

· “The other, however, had a large crack in it.” (Show cracked pot.)

· “Each day, the farmer went down the stream.” (Place the pole over your shoulders, and act out the story. Head to the place where you have your water waiting, and fill both pots full.)

· “And each day, he filled both his pots full of water. Then he headed back home.”

· “As he walked, the perfect pot kept all its water, but the cracked pot lost half its water on the path.”

· “The perfect pot was proud of its daily accomplishment, a full pot of water delivered to the farmer’s hut, and it had no respect for the cracked pot because of its inefficiency.”

· “The perfect pot thought to itself, ‘I am glad that I am not like this worthless pot beside me. I faithfully bring all that I’m given back to the hut of my master.’”

· “And to be sure, the cracked pot was ashamed of the way it wasted water on the way back to the hut each day.”

· “If only the crack were not so large or the distance from the stream not so far…”

· “It thought to itself, ‘My master has been so good to me, and I continue to fail him day after day. I’ll speak to my master and ask for his forgiveness.’”

· “So, the next morning, as the farmer was tying each of the pots to the long pole he used to carry them, the cracked pot spoke up.

· “’Master, forgive me; I’m a cracked pot.’”

· “Amused by this sudden revelation, the farmer responded, “’Why yes, you are! I’ve always known that you were cracked. I was there when it happened.’”

· “’Yes, but I’m ashamed that I’m only able to bring half a pot of water back to the hut each day. If I were whole like the other pot, I could bring back all that you trust me with each and every day.’”

· “’Little pot, if I had wanted two full pots of water,’” the farmer replied, “’I would have replaced you a long time ago.’”

· “’Have you not noticed the many, beautiful flowers on your side of the path as we make our way back to the hut each morning?’”

· “’I planted them on your side, because your crack makes it possible for me to water them each day as I walk. The other pot doesn’t share its water with the path, so nothing grows on its side.’”

The Moral of the Story

· “God is the farmer, and we are the pots.”

· “The cracks in the pot represent our sin, our imperfections, and some of our experiences.”

· “God takes our cracks (when we give them to Him) and uses them for His Kingdom and His glory.”

· “Through them, He pours Living Water on a spiritually dry and thirsty world.”

· “His Living Water brings life and beauty into peoples’ lives through us.”

· “No matter what mistakes we have made, no matter what our imperfections… God will use them if we let Him. Romans 8:28 tells us that:

‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ (emphasis mine)”

· “That’s ALL things!”

· “That includes that part of your body that you don’t like. It includes your scars. It includes your sicknesses. It includes the fact that you are small or big or skinny or fat. It includes the fact that you are not as smart as your brother or sister, that you aren’t good at sports, that you don’t know how to play a musical instrument, that you aren’t pretty or that you can’t read well.”

· “It even includes the bad things you do as long as you let God know you are sorry for them and let Him use them how He wants to.”

· “God uses everything – if we let Him.”

· “So whatever it is that you don’t like about yourself – get over it! God likes it, and He wants to use it to bless those around you. He wants to use your cracks.”

· “And don’t kid yourself. We are all ‘cracked pots.’ (I didn’t say, ‘crackpots,’ but I’m not excluding it, either.)”

· “Not one of us is perfect. The ‘perfect pots’ may look perfect on the outside, but they are cracked on the inside because of their pride or because of something else they are doing their best to hide.”

· “The difference between most of us and the ‘perfect pots’ is that we are giving God opportunities to use our cracks.”

· “He can’t use ‘perfect,’ because ‘perfect’ won’t admit that it needs God.”

· “Remember, God’s power is made perfect in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9).”

· “If we pretend that we can do it ourselves, we rob Him of an opportunity to work through us. If we do it in our own power, we get the glory.”

· “The ‘perfect pot’ was proud of what it accomplished in its own power.”

· “But what it missed was the chance to be part of something greater than itself – to share Living Water with the world!”

· “You won’t find anywhere in the Bible where God asked us to store His blessings. He asked us to pour them out as we walk with Him.”

· “So, be a cracked pot, and let God use those cracks for His glory!”

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Filed under Christianity, Coping skills, God's Will, Humility, Object Lesson, Pride, Relationships, self-image