Jonathan's Perspective  

Apr 17

'When People Fail'

Have you ever failed at something--a project at home, a relationship, or meeting work expectations?  I think it is safe to say that we have all faced humiliating defeat at some time.  We were embarrassed, felt shame, knew the disappointment others had in us.  There is a whole gamut of negative emotions that creep in; we lose heart and wonder if we can ever right the wrong and rectify the situation.  But failure is a part of life, failure is a given in this complicated, competitive, selfish, and fallen world. 

In Acts, we read about how a young man named John Mark failed in a missionary journey with the apostle Paul.  Midway through their journey John Mark deserted Paul and headed back home to Jerusalem.  As you can imagine, Paul was angry and frustrated at being abandoned.  When another missionary journey was being formed to go encourage some of the small churches that they started, Barnabas and Paul were chosen.  Barnabas, however, wanted to take John Mark along.  Paul said, 'NO.  Absolutely not.  He couldn't hack it before and doesn't have the commitment to the work of the gospel.'  Paul and Barnabas had a sharp dispute, but Barnabas decided that he would give John Mark another chance.  Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways in ministry. 

I am sure that John Mark was deeply thankful that Barnabas chose him.  It was an opportunity for a new start, a new beginning.  Barnabas' action told John Mark that he was not defined by his past failure, but by the call that God had on his life.   It also let John Mark know that there was someone who believed in him, and believed he had the heart and skills to be effective.  John Mark became a key player in the work of the early church.  John Mark penned the Gospel of Mark, which he received from Peter.  Five years later, Paul wrote to Timothy that 'Mark is very helpful to me in my ministry.'  Twelve year later, John Mark tended to Paul when he was imprisoned in Rome.  Paul was proved wrong in his judgement of John Mark.  They were reconciled and went on to do great things together.

In his time of failure John Mark needed a champion.  Someone who would pick him up, dust him off, and tell him, 'I believe in you.  You have greatness in you!'  Who do you know who has failed and been written off by others?  Who has become despondent at work or at home?  Ask God how you can come alongside them and lift them up, to remind them that failure is not the end, but something to learn from.  We are not defined by our failures, but by how we get back up.  The French word for encouragement literally means: to give heart.  Let's all go to someone who is dwelling on a failure and be their champion -- give them heart.

Seeking Life that is Truly Life,



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