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Persistence: Learning from Mistakes
by Joel Comiskey
By Joel Comiskey, check out coaching
I know pastors who tried cell church ministry, failed at it, and then became cell church critics. They say, “Oh yes, I tried cell church, and it didn’t work.” Or they might say, “Cell church works great in Korea and Africa but not here in my city.” But often these pastors didn’t keep trying. They were not willing to make mid-course corrections, such as seeking out a coach, visiting another cell church, or reading relevant cell church literature.
The reality is that we rarely get things right the first time. Often we don’t do them right the third and fourth time either. In fact, we grow and mature through the trials and errors we make. Failure is the back door to success and God will bless our efforts. Pastors and leaders who make it in cell ministry keep pressing on and don’t give up. They practice the title of John Maxwell’s book, Failing Forward. Making mistakes is part of life. Proverbs 24:16 says, “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.”
The cell church training track, for example, is rarely perfected the first time. A pastor and leadership team has to make numerous auto-corrections to perfect the training track. The same is true for any part of cell ministry such as coaching, vision casting, keeping statistics, setting goals, evangelizing, and disciple-making.
Whenever I think of giving up, I’m encouraged by those who overcame failure through persistence:
- When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he tried over two thousand experiments before he got it to work. A young reporter asked him how it felt to fail so many times. He said, “I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a two thousand-step process.”
- Winston Churchill failed sixth grade. He did not become prime minister of England until he was sixty-two and then only after a lifetime of defeats and setbacks. His greatest contributions came when he was a “senior citizen.”
- Albert Einstein did not speak until he was four years old and didn’t read until he was seven. His teacher described him as “mentally slow, unsociable, and adrift forever in his foolish dreams.” He was expelled and refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School.
- After years of progressive hearing loss, by age forty-six German composer Ludwig van Beethoven had become completely deaf. Nevertheless, he wrote his greatest music—including five symphonies during his later years.
Don’t worry about failed outcomes. Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try. Most good things come through testing and making mid-course corrections. If you wait to try until everything is perfect, you most likely will never get there. “But wait a minute,” you might say. “I want everything to be perfect before I try.” Sorry it doesn’t work that way. We learn from our mistakes.