There are few weeks that go by without someone confessing to me how they have royally messed up, how they have failed.
Many times these people feel condemned. Fear grips them that the Church and God will mark them off the list, calling them disqualified.
Having a failure doesn’t make YOU a failure!
The book of James has a powerful scripture: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” – James 5:16
James understood the need for the Church (not the building) to be a place where people who failed could come, confess, be prayed for and be healed. Why don’t we see very much of that today? I believe it’s because we are not always authentic in the Church. It’s easy to yell at the top of our lungs, or post on Facebook how evil people are when they commit sexual sin, or when our country openly embraces things contrary to scripture. Open computer – get fingers ready to tell the whole world how they are going to hell.
Don’t stop reading out of anger … keep reading.
Over these forty-seven years I have walked with God, I have failed many times:
- During one period in my life, I stopped preaching/teaching several months because I was offended by folks in church. That is failure.
- During one period in my life, while married to my wonderful, godly husband, I pulled away from God, stopped listening to any worship music, and only listened to country music. The point is not the country music; the point is why I was listening. I was letting my heart walk away from God, while my body sat on a pew. On the outside, I was the “holy” wife of a wonderful pastor. On the inside I was playing games with the devil. That is failure.
- I have gone through periods when I was jealous of other ministries, and I let it overtake my thought life to the point of disliking the success of others. That is failure.
- I have carried grudges and unforgiveness for long periods. That is failure.
- As a leader, I have been infuriated with people who did not do things the way I wanted them done, and they got a taste of my venom. I had to control everything! That is failure.
- While rolling my eyes at the “terrible” sins of others, I allowed myself to binge eat, better known as gluttony in the Bible. That is failure.
So, what do you think of Barbara Benton now? (Rhetorical, so please don’t answer.)
Thank God I am not the woman above any more. I have learned to receive the grace of God that says to me, “Having a failure doesn’t make me a failure.” Because of that grace, I am simply not that woman above. She has been changed by His grace.
One of the things that has helped me most in overcoming the mindset of failure, is that I found trusted people with whom I could talk. I could talk openly and honestly, without fear of condemnation. I could talk with people who weren’t ready to throw me out of the Body of Christ or out of ministry; people who genuinely prayed with me, kept in touch with me, and wanted to see me totally healed. Thank God for healing! Thank God for the power to overcome!
What about you? Can God trust with the failures of other? Can we be authentic enough to say, I’ve not walked this thing perfectly?
We desperately need authentic Christianity – the kind that says, “I have failed, but God has forgiven me and given me the strength to rise up and continue walking.”
This is one of the most vulnerable blogs I have ever written. I, like others, still wrestle with the fear of what will others think or say about me. What impact will this have on my ministry? Will people no longer invite me to conferences and churches?
It is essential that we have welcoming arms for those who have failed. Oh I know, some will read this and think I’m just opening the doors to all kinds of people. Well, yes I am. That is what the Church is called to do. We are called to be a place of forgiveness, restoration, love, exhortation and patience.
I am so thankful that God said to me, “Having a failure, doesn’t make YOU a failure.”
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!
Barbara Wells Benton is a favorite speaker at Women of the Word, a Christian womens conference ministry. She teaches from real life experience and is a testimony of the life-changing power of God to turn “mourning into dancing”. She lives in Birmingham, AL with her husband, has three sons, and five grandchildren.