Why I Value Failure

In my various (and woefully under-rated and under-reported) speaking engagements around the world (no, really), I will occasionally introduce myself as a "failed pastor."

My wife hates that.

She says I need to stop. She insists that I was a good pastor. She says it gives the wrong impression.

But I persist, for several reasons. One, it's a little harmless self-deprecation and far more interesting than the usual ego-stroking introductions most of us go in for from time to time. Two, it is at least partly true, as I often explain to people, because while pastoring four churches over the last thirty-plus years, I never felt like I ever got good at it. I was always acutely aware of my shortcomings, and haunted by the people I couldn't help, problems I couldn't solve, and progress I couldn't make.

But thirdly--and most importantly, I think--that introduction repeatedly opens doors to fruitful ministry, because it never fails to draw someone (often many people) to me who are pastors, pastors' wives, ex-pastors, and so on. It starts conversations I might never have otherwise. And it encourages people to open their hearts and hopes to me in ways that I don't think would happen if I hadn't made that confession.

So I guess you could say I value failure. Because my sense of my own failings and my willingness to confess them can be (and often is) a conduit for the Holy Spirit's work, in me and in others. I've talked, prayed, and counseled with some wonderful people because of it. I think I've played a part in healing a few. And I know they have played a part in healing me.

No comments:

Post a Comment