My mind was completely blank. (Which is really bad considering I was on stage in front of about 800 people.) Only two chapters into a Romans presentation and I had no idea what the next word was. Cloaked in the awkward silence, I walked over to where my Bible sat, found the next line, and off I went, finishing the presentation with only a few minor mistakes.
Afterward, I was standing by my product table. A woman came to me and said, I am so glad you messed up. (Seemed a bit strange, so I asked her why.) Her response has stuck with me for years now:
I was so engrossed by what you were doing that I had forgotten you were quoting the Bible. When you messed up and walked over to your Bible, I was reminded that this was straight scripture. I listened to the rest of the presentation just as engaged as I was before, but overwhelmed by how wonderful, beautiful, and ALIVE God’s Word is!
That’s when I realized something incredibly important.
God can use my failure to encourage someone else.
The apostle Paul puts it this way:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (II Cor. 12:9-10 NIV)
Now, I certainly don’t enjoy making mistakes. I don’t seek them out. But this experience has changed my perspective quite a bit when they do happen.
Instead of wallowing in the embarrassment of the failure, I try to ask questions like these:
- What might God be trying to teach me here?
- How might this failure encourage or teach someone else?
- How does my response to this failure show – or not show – my trust that God’s power is made perfect in my weakness?
- How can I turn this into a blog post?