I am at the stage in life when, sometimes, I am anxious about what I have achieved. Or not achieved. Most – probably all – of you reading this post will know that I am a pastor. Even we have measures of success and accomplishment. Perhaps more now than ever when things can be measured and shared and analyzed in ways they could not in ages past.
Lately I have been experiencing some feelings of failure ( mostly in comparison to my peers in life, ministry, etc.). And part of what I have to admit is that even though some of this is middle-age angst, some of it is real. I have failed at some significant things. At some crucial moments. It’s one thing to have feelings of failure, regret, etc. that have to do with where you are – it is another experience entirely to confront the reality and consequences of genuine failure.
Yesterday I came across and posted to Facebook this gem:
“A leader must face failure squarely, including the failures of people he likes. But life is not a reality show., with an elimination round. If a leader believes there is ability and solidity in a man, he should be given the opportunity to show it. Good men are rarer than good days, and more valuable.” (George Washington on Leadership, by Richard Brookhiser)
What is rarer still is the leader who understands the wisdom of these words. Although I have failed, I have not become a failure largely because good leaders did exactly what Brookhister says here – they gave me the opportunity to demonstrate my ability even after a failure. What have molded me more than the failures (which have taught me much) have been the grace and compassion and confidence of such leaders.
Jesus does this with Peter following Peter’s denial – his failure at being a faithful disciple. In John 21 we witness Jesus’ love and mercy but also his giving Peter the opportunity to show anew his calling and his fidelity and his love. I hope that I am learning more and more to be such a leader and to remember how others have led me with such strength and opportunity.