Let’s Hear It For the Failures

Let’s Hear It For the Failures

The day will come when we will stand before the Lord to give an account of how we used our gifts, talents, time, energy, enthusiasm, and everything else God has graciously bestowed upon us. Failure would be to admit that not only did we do nothing, but that we attempted nothing. Success would be to recount those things we dreamed of and prayed for and attempted, even if they led to no great results.

I once heard a Christian say that when he arrives in heaven he does not expect not hear “well done, good and faithful servant,” as much as “well tried.” He does not mean that God will be impressed by a reckless succession of rash attempts at self-grandiosity. He does not mean that God will laud him for projects he began with great passion before losing interest and becoming distracted by the next big thing. No, he means only that he believes God will reward him for his constant attempts to seek and do what He commands. He expects that though in the final accounting his accomplishments may add up to little, his attempts at faithfulness will add up to much.

There are many things we begin with great energy and many projects we undertake with great enthusiasm. Convicted by the preaching of the Word or persuaded by our reading of providence, we determine that we will make a substantial change to our lives or embark on a ministry that will bless others. We attempt little things, big things, and things in-between. And though some of them succeed some of the time, many of them do not. Though a few of them grow up to become big things, far more of them remain tiny things or soon enough become former things.

A man longed to create a ministry through his local church that would serve the residents of a long-term care home. This was surely a good and noble desire and he embarked upon it with great gusto. But though he labored diligently, he received few opportunities to meet with people in that home or to care for them. And though he told other believers about it, he learned that few of them had interest in joining him. He pressed on for a time, but eventually surrendered to the inevitable and determined he would invest his time and energy in other forms of service. And though this ministry was by most measures unsuccessful, I am convinced God will proudly say to him, “Well tried.”

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