top of page
  • Writer's pictureWill Johns

Failing to Win

We all want to win. We love winning. We love it win our team wins. We get excited. We celebrate. We rejoice. Conversely, most of us really don't like losing. It is painful. It is depressing. It can make us feel bad about ourselves. We might even question our value. But what if there is a spiritual gift that comes from losing? What if we can actually fail forward? Fall upward. Lose to win.

That is exactly what Jesus teaches us here in Mark 10:29-31: “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

I remember reading this passage of Scripture when I was a young person and I didn't like it. I didn't like the idea of losing period. It discouraged me and I resisted whatever it was Jesus was teaching here. But now that I'm older, I have a different perspective. I've had plenty of failures by now in my life. And so this passage greatly encourages me. It shows me that God can redeem my failures. God uses failure to grow me and to give me spiritual gifts. Failure can be a massive catalyst for growth in our spiritual lives. Losing actually helps us to win.

I've realized that when I ignore this profound teaching of Jesus, I am likely to fall into a couple of pits. First, I may be so focused on winning that I mistreat other people. In my climb to the "top" I may trample others under foot. It doesn't take much reflection to know that this is not the kind of life God wants me to live. Any success that involves harming others to accomplish it, is not of God. In addition, I may fall into another pit. If I focus more on the fear of losing, I may avoid challenging myself. I stick to only things that I know I can win at. So I don't grow. I don't try new things. I stay stuck in the past. This is not of God either. It is like the person in the parable who buries his talent in the ground and refuses to take risks. That person is not commended in the Bible.

This teaching of Jesus gives me a much better way forward. I can focus on treating others as I would like to be treated (Matthew 7:12). I can value that more than whatever else I accomplish. The means justify the ends. Sure, I may feel like I haven't accomplished as much, but I can hold my head high knowing that I haven't added to the suffering in the world. The loss of accomplishment leads to the spiritual gain of having more love in the world. And it also empowers me to risk more. To try things that stretch me. To attempt something that I will probably fail at. I gain courage because I know that failure isn't all bad. It humbles me. It helps me grow spiritually. It reminds me of my need of God.

Take some time this week to think about the moments where you grew the most spiritually. I'm pretty sure it wasn't when everything was going your way. I bet it was when you were dealing with failure. So don't feel bad about being "last." That's first in the kingdom of God. No experience is wasted. When you lose, you win. You fail forward and find grace and growth in the midst of the loss. It isn't always comfortable, but it sure beats the alternatives!

I would invite you this week to accept whatever failures may be in your life right now. Don't deny them or resist them. Just trust that God can use these failings to help you grow. Trust that what feels like a step back, may actually be a step forward spiritually. Trust that you can treat others well and take risks and let the chips fall where they may.

May you fail forward this week.

33 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
Post: Blog2_Post
bottom of page