You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Failure is not an option.”
It’s often used as an inspirational statement to foster a determination to succeed at all costs. “We cannot and will not fail!”
As much as I like the sentiment behind this statement, I think it can actually do more harm than good. If failure is not an option, we may never attempt what we see as impossible. We may never attempt to do or be something if there’s a chance of failure.
When it comes to faith, our mindset can keep us from so much in the Kingdom of God!
In Matthew 14:24-31 we find a very familiar story of Jesus and the twelve disciples.
But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?
We often focus on Peter’s lack of faith as his fear of the stormy waters causes him to sink.
Mark Batterson, author of In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day and Chase the Lion, offers another perspective that has really challenged my faith.
We could focus on the fact that Peter did lose faith, not in Jesus, but in what Jesus was doing through him. Or we could stop and realize that Peter actually got out of the boat and walked on the water… while the other disciples sat in the boat.
The other disciples didn’t even attempt to get out on the water with Jesus. Yes, Peter started to sink, but at least he took a leap of faith! According to Batterson, and I have to agree, sinking is better than sitting!
We cannot have a failure-is-not-an-option attitude when it comes to taking leaps of faith. Instead, we should embrace the possibility of failure in our pursuit of seeing the impossible accomplished in our lives, our churches, and our cities!
Faith requires risk and a lack of certainty. Without it, where is the need for faith?
So, why not take a risk and step out of the boat?
When Peter lost faith and began to sink, it wasn’t due to a lack of faith in Jesus. He called on Jesus to save him! His lack of faith was in himself and what Jesus was doing through him.
It’s easy to second-guess yourself when you’re on the edge of a risky leap. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a conversation with myself that went something like this:
Are you sure God wants you to take this step?
Is it just your mind playing games?
What happens if you pray a prayer of healing and nothing changes?
What happens if you declare revival and it never happens?
What happens if you claim that new, bigger location and you never step foot inside it?
Not that God can do it, because I know He can. But, will He do it for me?
Have I ever let those thoughts keep me from taking a leap of faith?
And I have lived with regrets of never knowing what might have happened. On this side, I would rather try and fail than never have tried at all.
Have I overcome those thoughts of doubt only to experience failure?
But that failure is only based on my limited perception. I don’t regret giving God a chance to perform a miracle, and only He knows the real results of my actions.
Yes, to some, Peter failed. This failure caused Jesus to criticize his faith. And, many sermons have been preached and lessons taught about being distracted by the storms and losing faith. Peter has become quite the model for weak faith – at least in this instance.
But, Peter is the only one besides Jesus to ever walk on water!
I would rather live with the motto, “Failure is an option!” and go on attempting the impossible. I don’t want to go the rest of my life believing the lie that failure is never an option. If I am crippled by a fear of failure, I will never know what if feels like to walk on water, even if only for a moment.
Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a grey twilight that knows not victory or defeat.