When we look at the life of Abram, one of the greatest leaders in biblical time, we see a man who had many faults. He lied to foreign kings about his wife to save his own life. He had an illegitimate child with his wife’s servant. Abram’s life was far from perfect, but the thing that distinguished Abram from everyone else of his day was that he had a heart that believed the promises of the Lord.
Leadership is fragile business. It always has been, even during those ancient biblical times. But while the Bible records the accomplishments of great people of faith - for instance, Moses leading the Israelites toward the Promised Land or Paul leading gentiles toward the Savior - the Scriptures also show the humanness of such leaders by illustrating their faults and failures.
For such biblical figures, their leadership expresses more than a memorized menu of social graces, personality traits and organizational techniques. Instead, despite their human weakness, biblical leaders demonstrate virtues and gifts that express the character of God.
The Bible does not ignore the weakness of godly leaders, but narrates how God expresses His perfect, divine nature through flawed people. The character of a biblical leader is greater than the mere sum of moral virtues. Indeed, if we are to think biblically about character in relation to God, we will exclude no part of our persons, but will include every aspect of our humanness.
A study of Bible characters reveals that most of those who made history were men who failed at some point, and some of them drastically, but who refused to continue lying in the dust.
Their very failure and repentance secured for them a more ample conception of the grace of God. They learned to know Him as the God of the second chance to His children who had failed Him - and third chances, too.
The historian Froude wrote, “The worth of a man must be measured by his life, not by his failure under a singular and peculiar trial.” Peter the apostle, through forewarned, thrice denied his Master on the first alarm of danger; yet that Master, who knew his nature in its strength and in its infirmity, chose him.”
Understanding the amazing grace of God and His incredible forgiveness and acceptance through Christ, a mature Christian is one who has grasped the truth that his or her failure is not the end of an effective life with and for the Lord.
While there may be consequences to live with, as with David, and serious issues to work through, the mature believer rests in the grace of God and uses the failure as a back door to success through growth and understanding.
This statement by Paul is made in a context that considers the reality of the varied onslaughts of life, which must include failure:
“Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or death? As it is written, ‘For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we have complete victory through Him Who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom. 8:35-39).
In view of this, we often speak of the victorious Christian life. But the truth is there is a lot of defeat in the Christian’s life because none of us will always and perfectly appropriate the victory over sin that Christ has accomplished for us by the cross.
The amount of deliverance we experience is a matter of growth. So on the road to maturity and even after reaching a certain degree of spiritual maturity, Christians will sin and fail - sometimes seriously so. We don’t like to talk about it or admit it, but there is a lot of failure.
Failure is a fact of life for the Christian community, but God’s grace is more than adequate to overcome any situation. The mature Christian is one who has learned to apply God’s grace remedy for failure.
Things have not changed since that time. God is not looking for people who have their act together; God is looking for men and women who are willing to believe what He said and live according to His words. This is the life of faith that pleases God.
God is looking to use us despite of all our failures and faults. Don’t fail to let Him. Jesus has made you worthy.