Friday, January 14, 2011


Failure makes you question. What went wrong? Did I not prepare correctly? Did I procrastinate too much? Am I stupid? Am I really meant to be doing this? Am I doing more harm than good?

For those of you who don't know, I teach a Sunday School class at my church. For those of you who aren't familiar with the weird things that Christians do, a Sunday School class is a small group Bible study. We read the section of the book, then discuss it. We try to learn more about God through it and how we can actually change our lives for his least that's the idea.

Well, I felt like I failed at teaching last Sunday, teaching on James 4:11-17. Perhaps I was just being hard on myself, but nevertheless, that is how it felt. I went into Sunday morning actually pretty excited to teach. Some weeks I feel unprepared and am less excited, but I thought this passage was pretty inspiring and I thought I would be able to help the rest of the class learn something valuable. It didn't go as well as I had expected. My questions seemed elementary and I did not get the feeling that we really learned a whole lot after the discussion.

That was hard. It was hard going from feeling really excited about teaching to feeling disappointed with myself for not doing a good job teaching the passage. That apparent failure made me think, a lot. I wondered what happened. I felt like I had prepared for this lesson better than most of my lessons. I had actually meditated on the passage for several days before Sunday, writing out my thoughts on every single verse. I was as prepared as I could have been. For a while now, I have felt like God has given me the ability to teach. I thought that was his calling for me, to teach. But after that failure I started wondering if teaching really is my "spiritual gift," as Christians call it.

I seriously thought about this all day. If my mind wasn't distracted by the football games I was watching, it was thinking about why I had failed. I did come to a conclusion on some things that were wrong.
  1. My life has not truly been changed by the scripture that I teach on. I thought back to one of the subjects in the passage I had just taught on. The passage says that we should not think the future is in our hands, but recognize that it is completely in God's hands. We naturally want to feel certain about things, so I think our natural tendency should be to find out what God's will is for our lives. The 3 ways I gave for how we can do this is by prayer, reading the Bible, and by asking Christian friends. I realized that I don't actually do those things. I will sometimes pray a little bit, but not really listen for God's will. And in most areas I do not read the Bible or ask friends' opinions. The thing that came to mind is the fact that I have never once looked in the Bible to try to decide what kind of career I should pursue. If I really want to be a good teacher, I need to let the scripture I teach truly change me, otherwise everything I teach on will be hypocrisy.
  2. I have not been a friend to the people in my class. When teaching in a church, there is much more that goes into it than just being a good lecturer or a good discussion leader. I realized that I really could not consider any of the people in my class a close friend. The reason for that is not any kind of neglect on their part, but a complete neglect on my part. You can learn a lot more from someone who is your friend than someone who is just doing their job with no emotional connection. Somebody who you know really cares about you.
So, I really think that my failure on Sunday was a very good thing. It really made me question the deeper reasons on why things aren't going the way they should. The important thing is to move past the questioning and make the necessary changes. If a failure doesn't lead to a change in behavior, then you will never improve as a person and will be doomed to a life of failure.

And if you never fail, then you're just lame.

Much thanks to Rick for helping me think this through.

1 comment:

  1. Like it Jon! Good thoughts, I hate failure, but it seems that its the only way to really grow.

    "And if you never fail, then you're just lame." -Awesomesauce