Reframing Failure

Struggles in life can cause us to feel like a failure.

Scott Rodgers
Jun 3, 2018    32m
Pastor Rodgers discusses how we react when we face struggles in life can lead us to feel like failures. These failures can become baggage that weighs us down. When we don't address our feelings about the the failure, we can begin to identify as a failure. We fail to remember that the failure is an event and not a person. He uses scripture to help us recognize that even those closest to Jesus failed, but Jesus didn't look at the person as a failure. He just wanted the people to learn and grown from the failure. Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

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This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Scott Rodgers: 00:23 Good morning cornerstone. How's everybody doing?

Scott Rodgers: 00:26 Hey, my name is Scott. I'm so glad to see you guys today. Just thrilled to be with you here today and let's give a shout out to the Scottsdale campus, the Santa Tan campus. So glad to just be a big part of the Cornerstone family and what God's doing throughout the valley. Come on, let's give it out to Scottsdale, San Tan, we love you guys. So glad to be a part of what's going on in your services today. My goodness, is everybody doing okay? I mean anybody, you came here because someone bribed you lunch, I'll buy you lunch if you go to church with me today? You're not going to raise your hand right, if they do just order dessert as well. Just make sure you double down on that whole deal, make them pay up, and I'm just glad that you're here with us for the next 30 minutes.

Scott Rodgers: 01:07 We're going to have a great time together, because we're in this series called baggage. Just talking about these things that can weigh us down in life, things that we hold onto, that when we look at scripture we can maybe we can let go of. So is there anybody here that's like me where maybe you kind of brought some baggage in with you to church today? Anybody? Like, I mean are you leave me all alone here? Just kind of tote my stuff in. Well here's the deal, we all have baggage. We all have past experiences that can kind of mud up our perspective on the future. And I want to talk to you about one today that I really believe can make tomorrow, and the rest of our lives not only different but better. And I know that sounds like an infomercial, but I want to try to deliver on that promise. Okay?

Scott Rodgers: 01:56 So I'm going to start by taking you back to high school. Okay? Think about yourself in high school. Anybody here still in high school? Anybody? Okay, glad you're here. So I wasn't a very good student in high school, but I looked really cool, in fact that's my senior picture. Now tell me, what do you love best about it? Like the sweater? I mean come on, the sweaters like three times too big, super cool looking. The hair. I mean, who wouldn't love that hair? Sir, you would love that hair, I can tell that you would love that hair. And in my senior year, that year right there, I remember being in Mr Perry's class. Mr Perry could have used that hair, because he didn't have any. And Mr Perry had really big glasses and he was, I think it was sociology class. A bit of my high school experience is foggy. I kind of blacked out during the season of life, and that was part of it. But I remember sitting in, I think it was sociology, and Mr Perry was the teacher. And I can't remember what it was exactly that I did that pushed him over the edge, but he lost it that day in class. I was the guy...I sat in the back, like the very back row, like the right hand side of the room from the teacher. And I was always kind of like this back row guy. School assemblies, I was in the back. Everything, I'm a back row guy. When I go to church, I tend to sit in the back like you all back there, so come on high fives in the air back row people. Right? And I'm sitting there and Mr Perry just starts to turn all red, veins start to swell in his neck, and he looks at me. I'm just oh what have I done now? Like he's gone too far, and he points at me and he starts to yell at me in the middle of class, And he says this, he says, 'Mr Rogers, do you realize you are the only senior in this class?" Now, that was true, the rest were like freshmen and sophomores. I can't remember the scenario that made that happen for me, but I was the senior classman, and he says, "Mr Rogers, do you know that you're the only senior in this class, and you are the only one failing this class with an F?" And he was telling the truth. I just wish he would have made it a little more of a private conversation, because it was a little embarrassing.

Scott Rodgers: 04:36 Anybody here, like me, ever failed at something? Raise your hand if you've ever failed, like failed a class, or failed a task, or failed something. Anybody here ever feel like a failure? I mean if you're here and you're married, you know those moments in marriage where you're just like oh, I'm such a failure at this. Or parents, anybody here a parents? How many guys, as a parent, you feel like I am a failure as a parent. I mean we have three kids, and we feel it quite often. Like, ohhhhh, anybody Or is it just me? Just Shelly and I? Okay, you feel like a failure. Or maybe it's in the context of work and your career. Maybe you failed to deliver on a project, maybe you, you overestimated and you underdelivered, or you lost a client, or your business went under, maybe you were even fired from a job. I don't know if it's good news or if it's bad news, but the reality is failure is a part of life. We just saw it with one another, we have all failed.

Scott Rodgers: 05:42 But the struggle comes in when we don't process failure in a healthy way, it turns into baggage. And it's baggage that we can hold onto, for some of us, the rest of our life. And at best it slows us down, because we become timid, fearful, uncertain. And at worst it can keep us from doing anything that God puts in our heart. Because we're so afraid that we're going to, once again, fail. But I want to give you a thought here, it's changed my life. I am smoking what I'm selling here today okay? I'm just being honest with you, this has changed my life. I want to give it to you, and then we're going to look into God's word and unpack it some. And for you guys that raised your hands that you're in high school, I'm telling you man, don't ever forget this. I'm going to look right at you while I say it. Failure is an event, not a person, please don't ever forget that, failure is an event not a person. You see, when God made you, he didn't make a mistake. When he created you, He didn't create a failure. When he chose you, he chose you and I, all of us to be someone whom he wants to use in this world to do things that are important, to be someone that's significant in light of his plans and his purposes for this world. Failure is an event, it's not a person. And when we look in scripture, we see all throughout God's word, that people who he used to do great things often failed much along the way.

Scott Rodgers: 07:26 In fact, we're going to look at someone today. If you have a bible, open it up to Matthew chapter 14. If you're not familiar with scripture, but you have a Bible with you, your Bible App, it's the first book in the New Testament. Matthew chapter 14, and we're going to talk about a guy named Peter. Peter, he's our person of interest. And some of those are familiar with the guy, if not, let me catch you up. Because Peter has a pretty impressive resume. Peter is one of the 12 apostles. Anybody here one of the 12 apostles? If so we'll talk to you later, because you're not. Peter's one of the 12 apostles. Peter was a man whom God used, inspired by the Holy Spirit, to write two epistles (which are short books in the New Testament) in his name, first and second Peter. Anybody ever read any of them? Okay, 12 of us reading our Bible, so first and second Peter, it's in there. And then a lot of scholars will tell us that they've concluded that the book of Mark, in the Gospels, was really Mark writing down what Peter was telling him to write. Peter's the guy who Jesus looked straight in the eyes and said, "Upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." This guy has a pretty impressive resume.

Scott Rodgers: 08:49 However, he failed a number of times along the way. You think about that, like how could a guy, one of the 12 apostles, he penned holy scripture how can a guy like that fail so often? I know why, because he's just like you and he's just like me, he's a human being, And so what's going on in Matthew 14 before we read it. Is Jesus is grieving the death of John the Baptist, and he's wanting to get away and just spend some time in solitude, in prayer and he's grieving that loss. But people aren't leaving him alone, and they're following him by the thousands, and so finally it gets to a point where Jesus says to the disciples he says, "Hey, it's getting late. There's a lot of people here. They're going to get hungry. Let's feed them."

Scott Rodgers: 09:43 Disciples are like, "Well Lord, what, we don't have a whole lot. We've got like five loaves of bread and two fish."

Scott Rodgers: 09:46 How many have ever heard the song five loaves and two fish, Jesus made a miracle dish. I can't sing but I'm here to entertain you today at Cornerstone. Right? You're welcome. Five loaves, two fish, and then Jesus just supernaturally multiplies. It was like mod pizza for everybody baby, let's go. I love that place. Feeds everybody. And then he says to his disciples, he says, "Hey get in the boat and go across the Sea of Galilee." And then he goes away, and scripture says he goes and prays.

Scott Rodgers: 10:22 So Matthew 14, we're going to pick it up right there. Alright, so go all the way down to verse 25. Jesus has been praying, they're in the boat, in the lake, pretty big lake. Okay? It say about 3:00 in the morning, I'm reading out of the new living translation. So it's about 3:00 in the morning. Jesus came toward them walking on the water. Now I know sometimes we can read the Bible so much that we are like, yeah that's cool he walked on water. I mean, he's walking on water, just try to reengage with the miracle here okay? Next verse. He says, "When the disciples saw him walking on the water, they were terrified." I mean, wouldn't you like, what's that silhouette? Who is that? It's like a scary movie moment or something. "So it's in their fear they cried out it's a ghost. But Jesus spoke to them at once. Don't be afraid, he said take courage, I am here." Some of us just need to hear that today, right? Verse 28, then Peter, here's Peter, our person of interest. "Peter called to him, Lord, if it's really you." Like who else is going to be Linn Winters? I mean come on, he's walking on water. "Lord, if it's really you, tell me to come to you walking on the water." Peter's like, hey, whoa this is crazy awesome. Jesus if it's you, can I come out and do what you're doing? This is amazing, what's Jesus response? Verse 29 says, "Yeah, come on out. So Peter went over the side of the boat, walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. Save me, Lord he shouted."

Scott Rodgers: 12:00 How many of you guys have heard this before? Raise your hand please. Okay, so here's how I've heard this taught in church a number of times and here's often how it goes. I'll just make an attempt, okay? When the Lord calls you out of the boats, to take a step of faith, and do what he's calling you to do. And you walk in obedience to the Lord God Almighty, and the storms and the winds of life to swirl around you, and scare you, and start to beat against your life. In that very moment, what do you do? You reach out your hand and say, "Jesus save me." Now you know what I have to say to that? Amen. Come on, Amen to that, right? Sure, absolutely, all day long. However I want to add to it. When you're the only one stepping out of the boats, everyone around you is going to see when you sink. And do you have to say that? So what? Let's not ever let what we think people think about us keep us from doing what God's calling us to do. Because failure is an event, not a person. And I'm sorry, there will be times when we fail. And there will be times when you and I choose to do things for the glory of God that don't go in the way that we hope or expect, and we think that we failed. And when you ever feel embarrassed for failing while trying to do something good, wear it like a badge of honor. Just be proud about who God is, because the reality is we're no better than anyone else, but we're not sitting in the boat. We're going after it.

Scott Rodgers: 14:14 Let's go back to the text. Let's keep going in this down to verse 31. So Peter's like freaking out, right and save me Lord. "Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him, you have so little faith. Jesus said, why did you doubt me? When they climb back into the boat, the wind stopped. Then the disciples worshiped him. You really are the son of God they exclaimed." Now, let's look at this little, maybe a different perspective here. How many of you guys, when you're reading the Bible, and you read like narrative like this you kind of read it in a tone that you assume it's being spoken? Anybody like that? You're reading and you kind of you know, they're talking in the tone that I think they're talking in. And so I've read this for years and years and years, and most often I would read it in the tone of like, Jesus is rebuking Peter. Like, let me read it in that sense. So Jesus, Peter's sinking, Lord save me Lord. Jesus reaches out and says," You have so little faith. Why did you doubt me Peter?" Anybody else ever read it that way? Look, why did you doubt me Peter? You have so little faith.

Scott Rodgers: 15:19 Now, I don't know this for sure, but I'm going to speculate for a moment. What if instead of rebuking Peter, Jesus is actually celebrating Peter? What if instead of saying you have so little faith, why did you doubt me? What if he's celebrating saying "Peter, you have so little faith and look what's happening. Why did you doubt me? Why did you doubt? You could have kept going. That was awesome Peter, high five. Like the tone. I wonder if he was more celebrating than rebuking. Think about it as a parent for a moment, we don't even have to be parents to relate to this, but little Jimmy is getting off training wheels and you're teaching them how to ride without the training wheels. Right? Now when I was a kid, it was just shorts and that was it. And you went and you know, you wipe out and you scrape your elbows or your knees. Now you like put on like hockey outfits to the kids. Right? They're on the bike, you know, and the training wheels are off. Come on Jimmy, all you have to do is just kind of balance, you know, we've been working on your core. You little four year old, you know, getting you strong in the core. Because that's your point of center. Come on, just keep it up, here we go. Okay. Jimmy, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go. peddle, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. (Crashing sound) Jimmy, you're a loser, your mother's raising a bum. No parent in our right mind would do that to our children, Right? What would we do? We would celebrate the four revolutions that they made, right? Jimmy awesome, keep it going, let's try it again. I can't say for sure, but why would Jesus do anything different to Peter in that moment? Peter your faith, your so little faith, oh man. I wonder if you look back at the boat and said, you've got no faith. Your close friend is walking around the lake and you could have joined him, you've got no faith. See Peter, in that moment, looked like an utter failure. He's sinking, he's taking on water, he's reaching out for Jesus. Maybe Jesus is up here going awesome, way to go. I don't know. I don't know, next time you read it, just think of that.

Scott Rodgers: 17:56 Because here's the reality. Stepping out of the boat, whatever the boat is for you and for me, it's different for you than it is for me probably. It can be scary. I mean going all in with trying to live out the teachings of scripture can be pretty intimidating at times. It can be scary to share our faith with someone else. Fearing rejection, fearing the stereotype. It can be scary loving people to the degree that God has commanded us to love people. It's certainly scary trying to forgive someone who's hurt us deeply. It can be scary putting the mountain of our resources and investing into the cause of Christ. It can be scary getting out of the boat. But here's what I want to suggest, is even though that is scary at times, I want to suggest the most dangerous place to be is sitting in the boat. Living a risk averse life, unwilling to risk anything for the glory of God. That's the dangerous place. Because here's the deal. Almost always failure is not fatal, and if it is, it's only one time. But in almost all situations in life, most to put it that way, failure isn't fatal. So what do we do when we fail? Well first, we remember failures event, it's not a person. We all fail. But here's the thing I want to encourage us with, don't waste the failure, learn from it. Let it be a learning experience. Failures is just part of the journey. It's part of the process of growth, and development, and exploration, and understanding. Learn from your failure. Begin to maybe, pray and say, "God, what can I learn about this situation I just failed. Show me something about who you are that I haven't seen yet in this moment. Show me things about me that can grow, or how could I do this different next time?" Ask a small circle of friends who are invested in your life and say, "What do you see that I don't see?" Don't ever waste a failure, learn from it. And certainly don't throw it in the baggage. Well, I guess that's just the way it is, and then it just weighs you down. Learn from it.

Scott Rodgers: 20:28 Let's get back to a person of interest, to Peter. So turn over to Matthew chapter 26. Okay, Matthew 26. Now here's the deal, Jesus is almost to the point where he's going to go to the cross and he's telling his disciples. He saying, "Hey, the time has come. Here's what's going to happen to me. And the disciples are like! And then Jesus literally says, and you're all going to desert me. And they're like, no, I wouldn't desert you Lord. Listen, there's no way. And Peter, is the most vocal, and he says, Jesus, I will never desert you. I would die with you before I desert you. And Jesus says something concerning. This is Peter before the rooster crows, you're going to deny me." How many times? How many of you guys know? Three times. He's basically saying, hey, before the sun comes up, you're going to deny me three times. So Jesus had been arrested. They're beating him, punching him in the face, spitting in his face, getting ready to take him to the cross. And so here's where we go.

Scott Rodgers: 21:37 Go all the way down to Matthew 26, verse 69. Meanwhile, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard, so all the disciples had deserted him just like he said, but Peter kind of tagged along is hanging off in the distance watching all this go on. "So he's sitting out in the courtyard. A servant girl came over to him and said, you were one of those with Jesus, the Galilean." Verse 70. "But Peter denied it in front of everyone. I don't know what you're talking about, he said." Everybody say number one. Next verse, "Later out by the gate another servant girl noticed him, and said of those standing around, this man was with Jesus of Nazareth. And again, Peter denied it. This time with an oath. I don't even know the man. A little later, some of the other bystanders came over to Peter and said, you must be one of them. We can tell by Your Galilean accent. Verse 74 "Peter swore, a curse on me if I'm lying, I don't know the man." Number three. "And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly, Jesus, his words flashed through Peter's mind. Saying before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me." What's the next sentence say? "And he went away. Weeping bitterly."

Scott Rodgers: 23:05 Just try to empathize with this. In fact, have you ever let someone down that you love? Have you ever failed somebody you love? Have you ever failed yourself? I got like three limbs up on that one. Do you ever feel like you failed God? Yeah, here I am talking about failures as an event, not a person. Maybe you're sitting here and you're going, "Hey Scott, you know, all of my moments of failure have kind of gone into one long lifeline and it's called life. My whole life feels like a failure." May I suggest that you haven't denied Jesus to this degree, Peter is weeping bitterly.

Scott Rodgers: 24:03 Here's the beautiful thing. God loves to redeem our failure. I want to encourage you to take that for you. God loves to redeem your failure. Hey Man, we've all let people down. Doesn't mean we want to keep doing it like it's our excuse. We want to learn from it, right? We want to grow. We want to mature. We've all let people down. We've all let ourself down. Baggage, upon baggage, upon baggage, upon baggage, baggage. We've let God down. Here's where it gets dangerous. You say, okay, Scott, I get it. Failures is an event, not a person, okay? Yeah, I get that up here, but not in here. Because here's the reality. Here's where it gets really dangerous. We can all say, I get it failure a part of life, I have failed. But it gets really dangerous. In fact, I said failure almost always isn't fatal. But I believe it starts to become fatal when we say okay, it's not an event, failure is who I am. When failure becomes our identity, that's when we're in trouble. Because when failure is not an event, it's who I am as a person. We begin to sabotage ourself and we don't take risks. We cower from loving again, or we shrink back from stepping out in faith, trusting God to provide. Or we start to try to forgive someone who maybe they don't deserve it, but God is saying you know what? That's not the issue, do it anyway. But we're like, I'm a failure, everything I do just ends up bad I never win, I'm a failure. When it becomes our identity, that's when it becomes it's most dangerous. So I want to encourage you today you are not a failure. You failed. You failed. But you know what scripture says? The scripture says that you're made the image of God, that you're wonderfully made, that the thoughts God has toward you outnumber the sand on the beaches around the world. You see failure is an event, it's not you. Don't let it become your identity. Learn from it, and grow through it.

Scott Rodgers: 26:33 So let's get back to Peter, and I'm going to show you God loves to redeem our failure. So Jesus had been crucified, he's risen from the dead, he's appeared to a number of folks. And now the disciples are hanging out in this thing, in the book of acts called the upper room praying, waiting for God to move. When Jesus said, I'm going to pour out my spirit upon all of you guys and all this kind of stuff. So they're about, what is it, forty, or fifty days past when Peter denied Jesus vehemently. Okay? And imagine that in those few days, Peter, like that must have been horrific before he realized that Jesus was actually the risen Christ. I mean just living in that regret, in the pain of denying him. But now he's kind of like whoa man, he's alive, he's the Messiah. And they're all praying together and God pours out his spirit, and they all start to see this chaos, and praying, and all this kind of stuff. And people start hearing it, and they were coming from all around, and there's thousands of people gathered around this place.

Scott Rodgers: 27:36 That's our scene. Let's go to Acts chapter 2 verse 37. And Peter starts talking to them and he's basically, for us church folk we call it, preaching the Gospel. He's telling the story of the risen Christ. Okay? And it says in verse 37, "Peter's words pierced their hearts." Now my opinion, that's another word for conviction. They were deeply convicted about their condition before a holy God. "Peter's words pierced their hearts and they said to him, and to the other apostles, brothers what should we do?" They're like okay man, I'm really super convicted right now, what do I. What do I do with this? Peter Replies, verse 38 "Each of you must repent of your sins, and turn to God" And I'm telling you, that's the same today as it was back then, and it will always be this truth that will never go away. We each have to repent of our sins and turn to God. Okay, keep going. It says, "And be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." Go down to verse 41. "Those who believe what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day, about 3000 in all." Now just go with me for a moment, try to grasp the immensity of this moment. Just weeks before Peter was standing there saying, I don't know the man, cursed be me if I know the guy, I don't know him. While he's in his most vulnerable, painful state, getting pulverized and spit on. And in that moment you think like I'm jumping in man, I'm taking some punches for this guy. He's like, I don't know him. Keep on going. He weeps bitterly. This is just a few weeks before this moment. Who Does God use to communicate the first sermon that Jesus is the risen Christ and 3000 people take on eternal life by believing in him. Who does he use? The very guy that rejected him at his most vulnerable moments.

Scott Rodgers: 29:42 Tell me God doesn't love to redeem our failure. Come on. I don't know where you been, I know where I've been and I can stand here and say, God redeems our failure. Failure is an event, it's not a person. Learn from it, man, learn from it. Grow. Try not to repeat it, but even if you do and you fall down again, get back up. Learn from it. It's not who I am. I am not the embodiment of failure, it's not my identity. It's just part of my growth, and my learning process. And knowing through all that, if we follow Christ, he's going to redeem these failures. And he's going to turn it around into something beautiful. He's going to turn it into your story. How many guys can relate to me when I say some my stupidest decisions have become my greatest stories? Because we choose to continue following Jesus through those seasons. It brings us back to a good place and those stories become our stories of God working in our life. Let go the baggage of failure. It's not you. It's not you.

Scott Rodgers: 31:01 Can I pray for you? And then we're going to worship for just a moment. Father God, man this is an awesome encouragement, Lord. I don't know about everybody else, but I'm just encouraging myself today. God, I pray that for any of us at Scottsdale, at San Tan, right here, those online at Cornerstone online that are joining with us today. God, I pray that we would just let go of that baggage of failure. God, I pray that, that would no longer hinder us, or keep us from doing what you're calling us to do. God give us faith to step out of that boat, Lord. Maybe that boat is to to reengage with our marriage, even though the track record hasn't been good God. To reengage, you say, God I'm trusting you again. The failure at this point, it's been a part of the event, but it's not who we are. We're reengaging with this thing God. Maybe it's the failure of a job loss. And may we just by faith shake it off, and move forward and grow from it, and learn from it Lord. Or for the young people in this room and at our campuses, God, I pray they'd never forget that statement that failure's an events, it's not a person. God put in their hearts the willingness to try to take risks, to keep getting up when they fall down, and when they fail to keep going. Because as they do, you're shaping them, you're growing their faith, you're growing their competencies. And so I just pray that you would remind them they aren't a failure, but to learn from it. And we thank you for that. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
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Cornerstone Church
1595 S Alma School Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286