Failure and repentance secure for us a more ample conception of the grace of God.
When I was in college, one of my InterVarsity leaders introduced me to the book Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders. Even though it was published in 1967, the guidance I found in those pages changed my life.
One summer break, when I was back home with my family, I found the same book on my father’s shelf. Like many college kids, I was sure that I knew more than my parents. So you can probably guess how surprised I was to learn that my father and I had both been shaped by the same writer! All these years later I still find direction and wisdom in that dog-eared copy my father passed to me.
Chapter 15 is titled “Searching Tests to Leadership,” which Sanders lists as compromise, ambition, the impossible situation, failure, and jealousy. Recently, I was reflecting on his comments about failure:
If we could see into the inmost hearts of many men whom we think are riding on the crest of the wave, we should experience some great surprises. Alexander Maclaren, the peerless expositor, after delivering a wonderful address to a large gathering, went away overwhelmed with a sense of failure. “I must not speak on such an occasion again,” he exclaimed, while the congregation went away blessed and inspired. Allowance must always be made for the reaction which comes from the rebound of the overstrung bow. Nor can we ignore the subtle attacks of our unsleeping adversary.The manner in which a leader meets his own failure will have a significant effect on his future ministry. One would have been justified in concluding that Peter’s failure in the judgment hall had forever slammed the door on leadership in Christ’s kingdom. Instead, the depth of his repentance and the reality of his love for Christ …