How to Fail Really Well – Session Three
How to Fail Really Well – Session Three
In this session we look at how to fail really well exploring the 'failure' of the cross.

Was the cross a failure? It must have seemed so to those who looked on, and Jesus must have experienced failure as he cried out to God in desolation, why have you forsaken me? And yet the cross shows us that because of the suffering Jesus experienced we will never be separated from God no matter how bad our failures might seem.

Maybe the key to our success on the journey of following Christ is to recognise that failure is part of that. It is more how we move forwards in spite of our failures that is important. Are we teachable? Are we humble? Living with failure is not shameful – no it is the acceptance that we do not have to have it all together all of the time and the knowledge that there is grace that is sufficient for us in every season.

From the Bible

46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Matthew 27:46

Jesus Foretells His Death

21 And he strictly charged and commanded them to tell this to no one, 22 saying, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised.”

Luke 9: 21-22

Watch the Video

Study Notes

From the Book

When we speak of Jesus and failure, inevitably we end up at the cross. Much writing about failure also ends up there, and rightly so, but much of it is about how the cross seemed to be failure when, actually, it is the pathway to success. After crucifixion comes resurrection. It’s Friday, but Sunday’s coming. Hence, John Navone writes:
The cross raised the question of failure which the resurrection answered. God seemed to have failed Jesus. Jesus felt forsaken and was taunted by those who told him to come down from the cross if he was truly the son of God. Jesus seemed to have failed his father in not having converted Israel. Israel had apparently failed its God by not having accepted Jesus, his word.
The key words here are ‘felt’, ‘seemed’ and ‘apparently’. The cross wasn’t really a failure – the resurrection proves that. Parker gets a bit closer to acknowledging that there is, in the cross, a hint that failure is not a once-and-for-all experience leading to great success, but a daily calling to
potential suffering:
So it is that Jesus calls us to take up our cross and follow him. In doing so, he reminds us that the cross is not some temporary spiritual dark night of the soul which, once endured, leads us on into better times of success and maturity; the cross is a continuous experience of living with suffering and failure.
But that is more about the experience of discipleship, which involves a daily taking up of the cross, rather than making any claim about the ‘failure’ of the cross. I am in no doubt that the cross felt like failure to
Jesus. That’s why he cried out, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ (Matthew 27.46; Mark 15.34). In this way we can say that Jesus experienced failure as we do. He experienced desolation. Yet, the cross was very much not failure. If failure is when something doesn’t go to plan, the cross was not failure because the cross was God’s plan all along – and Jesus knew that and taught his disciples as much: ‘The Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised’
(Luke 9.22).

Page 147-148

Learning from failure is different from turning failure into success. You may simply learn not to mess things up so badly, or in the same way, next time. You may learn how to make life, if not incredibly successful, perhaps a little more tolerable. Perhaps we need to set the bar quite low
when it comes to learning from failure. As Moran says, ‘“Fail better” doesn’t mean, keep trying, or even, “fail a little less catastrophically next time”. It means you must bear to go on, hauling your body into each new day, when you know that you will fail and fail again.’
We know that failure is wrong. It often hurts other people and us, so we have a deep instinct not to fail and will want to put things right when we do. Consider the number of foundations and charities set up in the wake of great failure and tragedy by the relatives of those affected, ‘in order to stop anyone else having to go through what we did’. Yet, because we are human and sinfulness in all its forms, sometimes personal, sometimes corporate, has affected the whole of the human condition, we know that
we cannot eradicate failure completely, no matter what lengths we go to mitigate its effects. So perhaps we need simply to try not to make the same mistakes all the time. Enlarge your repertoire of failure and become aware of what mistakes you are most likely to make, because you’re you, and try to make different ones next time.

Page 179 – 180

Discussion Questions

Final Thoughts

After the cross, on the road to Emmaus, the bible describes how the disciples are left wondering what might happen next, when they come upon a man (Jesus), who walked with them as they discussed what had happened. This describes us, and the Church, right now. We journey life, our success and failures with him, guiding our steps, if we allow him.

The final video is a prayer for us over this lent period from Emma Ineson. Watch this video then go into a time of praying for each other.