Failing Forward

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” ESV Matthew 14:28-31

Much has been said about today’s helicopter parents who constantly hover over their children to make sure nothing goes wrong for them. Psychologists have observed these kids actually are more prone to anxiety and depression because they don’t know how to handle failure in life. Perhaps that’s why Jesus was the opposite of a helicopter parent, allowing His disciples to fall…and learn from their failures.

Perhaps no better example exists than Peter–one of Jesus’ most outspoken and powerful apostles, but also one who fell a lot. In the story mentioned above, Peter’s faith and impulsiveness drive him to walk on the water to Jesus in the midst of a storm. It works for a while, but then the wind catches his attention, taking his gaze off Jesus and decimating his faith as he begins to sink. Jesus reaches out his hand and grabs him, but at the same time, uses the opportunity to teach Peter the value of faith. Had Jesus never allowed Peter to sink, or had He not taken the opportunity to challenge Peter’s faith, a valuable teaching opportunity would have been lost.

In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor speaks of “Falling Up,” or learning from our failures and growing through them. Parents who never allow their children to fail ultimately set them up for greater failure, or are forced to constantly bail their children out, even as adults. If you have parents (or direct reports, or people you mentor, or influence), make sure you allow them to fail. Then when they do, take time to address what caused the failure and help them develop a better plan for the next time around. This way they don’t keep repeating the same mistakes. Jesus took this approach and over three short years developed twelve men that changed the world. Let’s learn from Jesus and allow our children to fail forward as they thrive in Christ.


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