failure

Where never is heard…

How should you respond when someone has a negative assessment of your work or your character? Did you know that critics in history have, wait for it, sometimes been wrong?

You are not a failure just because someone said you are. You are not a failure just because you made a mistake. You can become something of value in spite of what others may think of you, if you possess the right degree of determination, and if you turn your life over to the God who can change you for the better.

Don’t accept other’s assessment as final, or even true. When John Mark left the missionary party of Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:13), Paul felt the young man was not worth the risk for further mission work. In Acts 15:36-40 we get what is probably the substance, perhaps even the exact words of Paul in objecting to the young man: “Paul thought it best not to take with them one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them in the work.”

Of course we can only speculate from what we know of these two personalities. Barnabas was well known as an encourager. Paul was a highly disciplined and determined man. Perhaps Paul had trouble understanding someone like John Mark who lacked his steely resolve. Paul would have toughed it out! “He’s a quitter. The kid won’t amount to anything,” he might have said.

So who was right about the young John Mark, Paul or Barnabas?

Someone has wisely said that perhaps John Mark needed both. Paul provided the discipline and grit the young man obviously lacked, and Barnabas provided the caring, encouraging support he needed.

And yet at the end of his life, Paul called on Timothy to come and visit him, along with another individual. Who would you invite to stand by you as you faced your death? Paul already had Luke beside him. He wanted Timothy, and John Mark (2 Timothy 4:11).

God has always been in the business of calling us to what we can be. Have you ever wondered why God habitually chooses “losers” to do his great tasks? Think of the way he recruited the youngest son of a sheep farmer to become king, or the collection of fishermen, IRS agents and guerrilla fighters he admitted into his preacher school!

In turn, we need to be conscious of two things: Our words. How to speak to others and of others with respect and love. The need to build, or develop leaders in the church.

Everyone slips and falls; it is the exceptional person who learns from his mistakes and tries again.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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