WHEN THINGS DON’T GO AS WE PLANNED, IT'S PAINFUL.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of exaggerating our wins and never sharing the times we fail because deep down we're scared people will think we’re not that great, faithful, or successful.
The good news is that our worth isn’t based on what we do, achieve or how many goals we smash or don't smash. Jesus loved us before we did anything and because of that, we don't have to base our emotions, worth or identity on the ever-changing bar of success or the people around us. We’re not in competition, we all want the same thing- to glorify Jesus, see lives transformed, and the kingdom built! How freeing! That means we can share the good and the bad, the ups and the downs, we can be vulnerable about our weaknesses. It was never about us anyway and God makes it pretty clear that our weaknesses aren't something to be embarrassed of as: (His) grace is sufficient for you, (His) power is made perfect in weakness.
Student work is a wonderful adventure, full of highs and lows, through it all God is good and in control. So let's share salvation stories freely but also make sure we're not making it about us and boast in our weaknesses too. God is on the move in Sidcup (where I'm a student worker) and I love my highlights reel but here are some headlines I find quite hard to share.
I ran an alpha course, 38 students signed up, only 5 showed and we’d cooked for 50.
I ran a quiz at a post-church social and almost everyone left before we’d even started
I’ve had students drop out of uni and church and move away because of mental health struggles
I lost a student’s number when I said I would message them to arrange a time to talk about faith
I put out 150+ chairs for a big event and only 20 people showed up
I’ve had many a time when I've bottled sharing my faith, prayed a fumbly awkward prayer and tried to answer a question I should have just said 'I don't know' to.
… and no one died. Actually, the only thing that died was a bit of my pride.
So what do we do next... We have to deal with the failure (apologising when needed), learn from it (why didn't it work, let's not shy away from reflection because we're embarrassed), and then we get over it (by giving it totally over to Jesus, letting him heal and comfort us)
If you want to live an adventurous, missional, relational life you will have moments that don't go as planned. There will be awkward, messy fails and, although painful, that's a really good thing. Stepping out makes us rely totally on Jesus, it helps us remember that it's not about us and 'our' ministry, it's all His, and all for Him. We can't do anything without Jesus.
After some of these fails, I had to retreat back to the boat of safety and comfort before being ready to risk again. I had to sit in community, cry and let Jesus remind me that I'm not a failure even if my plans sometimes fail. But after a while, I was ready to stand up, step out the boat, more resilient than before. It's worth it for Him. He's worth every embarrassing moment, every awkward prayer, every plan we see as a fail. The crazy thing is somehow in the upside down kingdom the things we see as massive failures probably don't look like a fail in God's eyes.