Michael Jordan once said, “I’ve missed more than nine thousand shots in my career. I’ve lost almost three hundred games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Jordan, the greatest basketball player of all time, was successful because of his failures, not merely in spite of them.
Our failures, when responded to with the right mindset, can propel us into greater levels of spiritual development and achievement. But far too often men allow their failures to define, confine, and resign them to lives of inaction. The fear of failure is one of the greatest deterrents to risk and faith. But God has something to say about facing our failures head-on, and He shares it with us over breakfast on the shores of the seas of Galilee in John 21.
After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples returned to what they knew—they went fishing. One early morning Jesus appeared to them (He already made a post-resurrection appearance in the previous chapter). John noticed Jesus calling from the shore and told his friend Peter who immediately dove into the water and swam to Jesus on the shore.
John 21:9 reads,” When they got out on land, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish lying on it, and bread. Jesus cooking breakfast. That’s a sight I would like to have seen. The Savior of the universe stoking a charcoal fire, blowing on it to ignite the flame, and skinning the fish.
This wasn’t any ordinary breakfast, either. This breakfast had an intended purpose. The fish reminded Peter of his call to ministry years earlier: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). The charcoal reminded Peter of his failure when he denied Jesus three times, the last time while warming his hands over a charcoal fire (John 18:18).
Jesus used this meal to rebuild and restore Peter to service in His kingdom, asking three times, “Do you love me?” (vv. 15-17) and giving Peter a commission to feed and care for the church. Scripture doesn’t tell us what Peter was feeling that day. Bible teachers offer differing explanations as to what made Peter dive in the water and go after Jesus. It may have been excitement, or it could have been fear. Either way, you can safely assume Peter knew he failed Jesus. You can also assume Peter knew Jesus knew that he’d failed Him.
But Jesus never mentions Peter’s failure. He forgives and restores Peter. Jesus didn’t hold Peter’s failure over his head. He didn’t ask Peter to sift through the rubble.
This episode reminds us of God’s faithfulness to use us in spite of ourselves. Not all of us have publicly rejected Jesus as Peter did, but each man, in his own way, has marginalized Jesus either through words or actions at some point in time. Yet Jesus remains faithful to draw us back to Him when we repent.
A false sense of pride and a spirit of self-sufficiency are the surest killers of future ministry, influence, and impact. Men, when you’ve failed, admit it. Acknowledge your sin to God and repent. He’s in the business of rebuilding, but it starts with your honesty and sorrow over sin. Peter went on to do even greater ministry after he was restored than he ever did before. Now he relied on God’s power rather than his own. His is a lesson for all of us.
This is just a glimpse of the discussion you and your men’s group might have as a result of engaging No More Excuses, the most recent release from LifeWay Men. For more about the more complete No More Excuses experience visit lifeway.com/nomoreexcuses.