G. Tharp, Ph.D.
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The Tharp Family
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Failure Could Lead to Success
Never Be Afraid To Fail
Paralyzed By Fear Of Failure
Epic Proportion Failures
21 Famous Failures
Fundamental Principles of Failure
Adult Attitudes About Failure
The # 1Failure Of Many Pastors
Mark The Failure
Failures who Proved Failure need not be Fatal
Dealing With Failure
A Short Lesson on Failure
Failure Does Not Mean Collapse
The Biblical Concept Of Failure
Five Successful Failures
This year will be my
fifty-seventh year in the Ministry and I never cease to be amazed at
the changes that are taking place in the Church world! Bible schools
across America are closing their doors, or just hanging on by a
thread, simply because there are fewer and fewer who are entering the
One of the root causes
of this malignancy is because of the multitude of Ministers who are
giving up the Ministry for a variety of reasons. Discouragement
seems far easier to come by these days, since there are seemingly
multitudes of thin skinned prima donnas who have entered the
The problem is that
because there are so many who entered the Ministry expecting a free
ride, when they are faced with the natural hardships which are the
building blocks to almost every single successful Minister, they are
susceptible to every temptation that comes along.
What seems to come as a
surprise to that caliber of minister, is the fact that they have the
same temptations as anyone else on this earth, and when they succumb
to temptation they feel obligated to turn in their credentials and
The average Church
member faces much the same problems which seem to plague the
Ministry, temptation knows no certain race, creed or color.
My reason for writing
this book is simple, I have see far too many good men quit the
Ministry over some failure which convinced them that they were not
cut out for the Ministry anyway.
The same goes for
Church members, who fail in some way which brings them under
condemnation and their response is to quit the Church, believing that
they are no longer a good enough example for others.
Perhaps I am being too
harsh on some, but I am fed up with spiritual babies! Failure need
not be Fatal, is not just a saying, it is a fact! If anyone thinks a
failure of some magnitude excludes you from the Kingdom of God, then
Hosea 4:6 is talking about you!
“My people are
destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected
knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to
me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget
This Scripture is a
direct rebuke of those who never seem to learn who they are, because
they do not know who God is! The Bible is filled with stories of
great men who accomplished miraculous things, but the biggest sinner
of them all was David! Yet the 13th chapter of the book of Acts
informs us that David was the ONLY man ever mentioned by God that was
after His own heart!
David is proof positive
that; “Failure, need not be Fatal!”
Lead To Success?
Everyone you will ever
meet, has an intrinsic desire to be a success in whatever field they
are involved in. Think about it; have you ever met anyone who
purposely set out to be a failure?
There is little doubt
that this is why there has been such an enormous mountain of material
which has been written on the topic of “How to be a Success;” and
why these books are so popular?
There is a quote which
was uttered by Teddy Roosevelt, who was indisputably a very
successful politician; “The only man who never makes a mistake is
the man who never does anything.”
In other words, “He
who never tries, shall surely never fail! (See Authors Book; “The
book of Hezekiah.”)
The simple reality is
that failure is one of those ugly realities of life and an all too
common experience which all of us will probably face to some degree
in our lives.
The ability to handle
failure in its various forms and degrees is a vital part of the
spiritual life of practically every believer and serve as either an
obvious sign of maturity, or an appalling lack thereof.
A careful study of the
Scriptures reveals that most of the great figures which are recorded
in the pages of the Bible, experienced some modicum of failure at
one time or another, yet those failures did not keep them from being
an effective servant of God.
Just as a partial list,
this was true of Abraham, Jacob, Moses, Jepthah, Sampson, Gideon,
Elijah, David, Simon Peter, Mark and the Apostle Paul. Although
they all failed at some point in their lives and often in very
significant ways, we must not forget that they not only recovered
from their failures, but they actually used those failures as a tool
They clearly learned
from their failure, confessed it to God and were often able to be
used in even mightier ways.
The manner in which a
leader meets with his own failure will have a significant effect on
his future ministry. One would have been justified in concluding that
the failure of Peter in the judgment hall had forever slammed the
door on his leadership in the kingdom of God.
Instead, the depth of
his repentance and the reality of his love for Christ reopened the
door of opportunity to a yet wider sphere of service.
“Where sin abounded,
grace did much more abound.”
In the past few years
there has been an unusual number of Churches who have either closed
their doors, or merged with someone else for a wide variety of
reasons. The number one reason is the appalling fact that America is
without a doubt, in a spiraling, Spiritual decline!
Unfortunately, I am
convinced that the Spiritual decline can be laid directly at the door
of Christian Television. Although there are innumerable programs
which are offered to us on a daily basis which are helpful and
wholesome, there are also those who have used Christian television
for the sole purpose of enhancing their bank accounts!
I would suggest that
when you want to watch a Christian television show, watch someone who
serves as the Pastor of a Church or someone whose motives are not
connected to raising money to fatten their bank account, but whose
solitary motive is attempting to build the Kingdom of God.
Although there are
innumerable reasons for a Church being forced to close their doors,
it is still a very traumatic experience regardless of the reason!
If by chance, dear
reader, you have ever found yourself in that situation and you were
forced to be the one who made the decision and your Church was forced
to close its doors after several seemingly endless, cruel and
difficult years and you feel like you gave it your all, but it
consistently dwindled? Your outreach events reaped no fruit and you
may have thought;
I am the percentage
they talk about at Church growth conferences and Church planting
workshops and seminars!
Perhaps that is the
moment when the Spirit is preparing you for the inevitable demise of
your hopes and dreams for that particular area as well as what can no
doubt be considered the most trying era of your life!
That is the time when
anyone who has found themselves in that situation should have the
courage to recognize the fact that “Failure, need not be Fatal!”
Rest assured that God
will give you great comfort as that particular season in your life
comes to an end! However, human nature being as predictable as it
is, there can be no reasonable doubt that the thought of appearing to
be a failure will not be easy to erase!
Moral failure in
ministry is generally accepted as the major reason for failure and
although there is far too many instances where that is actually the
case, we are inundated with the gruesome reports of addictions, the
misuse of Church funds and/or spiritual abuse by those in leadership
as well as an all too often case of simple, outrageous, lethargic
Appallingly, we are
never going to hear the statistics that there are literally
multitudes of Pastors and leaders who have never committed a moral
failure, they are not addicted to anything except Jesus!
There are untold
numbers of genuine servants who have never even considered a moral
failure, or any manner of Spiritual abuse, yet they perceive that
their ministry has failed in direct proportion to their dwindling
crowd of attendees.
We, as ordained
ministers of God should be able to comprehend that this is an
altogether different category! What happens when the results of all
your hopes and prayers seem to come to nought? You have put your
hand to the plow, but the visible results of what you have done turns
out to be meager or seemingly nonexistent?
What does it imply when
you do everything in your power with the best of your ability, to
pursue your calling, minister with all your strength, agonize over
every sermon as you preach the gospel to the best of your ability,
have a heart of love for the people and the fruit of your labor seems
It is not only
difficult, but a near impossibility to just shrug it off and accept
the fact that it simply didn’t work out! Instead, our natural
reaction is to ask ourselves, where did it all go wrong? More
precisely, what did I do wrong?
For any Minister of the
Gospel who has ever been forced to wrestle with these questions,
their thoughts generally grow increasingly dark, leading to the
crippling nightmare of an overwhelming sense of complete failure.
Unfortunately, that is
when the ghost of failure, or the sense of failure can continue to
haunt you in whatever future ministry endeavor you have the courage
to pursue. After any modicum of failure, the pain of that experience
always seems to linger!
It is always in the
background of the mind, particularly when facing the challenges of a
new ministry opportunity, the enemy will certainly be there to help
you come up with the following scenarios of self pity and self
1. Is this going to be
just like the last time.
2. Will the same thing
3. Am I going to fail
at this also.
4. Am I actually
worthless and just kidding myself?
5. Am I really even
called into the Ministry?
That is the time to
recognize that those voices and questions which plague you do not
belong to the Holy Spirit! When we hear condemnation instead of the
encouraging words of Romans 8:1-2, which states;
“There is therefore
now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not
after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of
life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and
There should be little
doubt that questions like this is definitely the voice of the enemy,
which always comes in at our lowest moments, which we are often
guilty of listening and believing what we hear.
No Minister of the
Gospel should ever listen to the negative whispers of the enemy!
Instead they should be looking to the Holy Spirit to confirm their
calling and not allow themselves to be plagued with their perceived
shortcomings in ministry and remind themselves of the fact that;
“Failure need not be Fatal!”
There is one immutable
fact that every Minister of the Gospel should remind themselves of,
the Holy Spirit will NEVER be guilty of waving our failures or our
shortcomings mockingly, in front of our eyes!
The true failure of
those struggling with any modicum of failure in the ministry, is
guilty of taking their eyes off the finished work of Calvary!
Simply because we may
be experiencing struggles or disappointments in the Ministry, that
cannot be allowed to discourage, or ultimately lead a Pastor or any
other form of Ministry to doubt their calling.
What is even worse, is
if the haunting cloud of failure is allowed to persist in the mind of
a Minister, that is when they are prone to doubt their calling and
even the love of the One who has called them.
It does not really
matter what the perceived failure or failures, may be, the greater
tragedy would be to exchange the truth of God for the lies of the
enemy, trying to convince us that we are not loved by Him who called
us and we are no longer worthy to be in the Ministry.
Perhaps we should
consider what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians about dealing
with past failures:
“Not as though I had
already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if
that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ
Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one
thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching
forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark
for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us
therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing
ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.
Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the
same rule, let us mind the same thing. (Phil. 3:12–16;KJV)
In other words, keep
your eyes on Jesus! If our eyes are turned inwardly, we cannot
fasten onto the acclivitous call of Christ! Paul had created what
may be described as a file folder containing all his past sins,
mistakes, and failures labeled;
things which are behind.”
By utilizing the power
of the Holy Spirit residing in him, Paul affirmed that his eyes were
no longer targeted toward his failures, but directed toward his
future in Jesus and off of himself!
A solid profession of
his faith caused grace to overflow in the life of Paul and empowered
him to focus all his attention and his energy on what lay ahead.
If we allow ourselves
to be fixated on any perceived failures, it will effectively prevent
us from receiving this same glorious grace which Paul left as a
testimonial to the Philippian Church!
Unfortunately, it is a
proven fact that failure is like a millstone around our neck when we
insist on clinging to that which lies behind us!
Actually, we are
disobedient to the Word of God when we make the decision to allow
ourselves to be defined by our failures and refuse to press on toward
the goal which is set before us.
Our perception of
success and/or failure in the calling referred to as Ministry, is
faulty at best! It is unfortunate that our ideas of success is often
much more self-serving than we realize! The self we serve can be
considered nothing less than sinful, self-importance!
Successful Pastors tend
to evaluate other ministerial success and failure by what we think
they did or did not accomplish, therefore, we are aided by their
biased attitude when in fact we may already be haunted by that which
did or did not materialize according to our expectations!
Our successes are often
overshadowed by what we feel we have failed to achieve.
gospel-oriented view of success, calls for an unintimidated
faithfulness to that which the Spirit of the Lord has called us to
do. Nothing more, nothing less! Never lose sight of the fact
that success must always be measured in terms of our faithfulness to
the task. This is the true calling of any form of Ministry in the
gospel of Jesus Christ.
Faithfulness is the
ultimate sacrifice of what the Lord Jesus desires from us. Regardless
of the outcome of our efforts, faithfulness to the task is true
success in the Kingdom of God.
Depending on the
magnitude of our past perceived failures, there will be occasions
when we are still haunted, but we must not retreat inwardly, or allow
ourselves to listen to the lies of the enemy, but allow ourselves
instead, to take on board the urging of the Apostle Paul;
things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which
are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high
calling of God in Christ Jesus.
He who has called us
is faithful and His Grace causes us to strain forward, clinging to
Again and again, the
gospel of Jesus Christ exposes my selfish ideas of success and cuts
right through my selfish penchant for inward observation, allowing
anything which remotely resembles a failure to deter me from my
His love enables me to
lift my eyes from sin and self that I may behold the face of my
Pastors, if your
expectations have not been realized or your goals have failed to be
achieved, may I encourage you to forsake the haunting voice of
condemnation and know that you are not a failure with whom Jesus is
displeased! Forget the past and what lies behind, run with
endurance towards the Savior. Press toward the goal of faithfulness.
“Press toward the
mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”
“Failure Need Not Be
The truth of that
concept has been proven time and time again!
The historical record
of Dr. William Leslie, a Missionary doctor who left the field under
the impression that he had been an utter failure, is one story that
is well worth noting;
In 1912, a medical
missionary by the name of Dr. William Leslie went to live and
minister to tribal people in a remote corner of the Democratic
Republic of the Congo. After 17 years (1929) he returned to the U.S.
a discouraged man, believing he had utterly failed to make an impact
for Christ. Sadly, he died nine years after his return, still
feeling as if his efforts had been useless.
But 81 years later, in
2010, a team led by Eric Ramsey who was with the Tom Cox World
Ministries, organization, made a shocking and sensational discovery.
They found a network of reproducing Churches hidden like glittering
diamonds in the dense jungle across the Kwilu River from Vanga, where
Dr. Leslie was stationed.
With the help of a
Mission Aviation Fellowship pilot, Ramsey and his team flew east from
Kinshasa to Vanga, a two and a half hour flight in a Cessna Caravan.
After they reached Vanga, they hiked a mile to the Kwilu River and
used dugout canoes to cross the half-mile-wide expanse of water.
Then they hiked with
backpacks another 10 miles into the jungle before they reached the
first village of the Yansi people.
Based on his previous
research, Ramsey thought the Yansi in this remote area might have had
some exposure to the name of Jesus, but no real understanding of who
He is! However, they were not prepared for their remarkable find.
“When we got in
there, we found a network of reproducing Churches throughout the
jungle,” Ramsey reports. “Each village had its own gospel choir,
although they wouldn’t call it that. They wrote their own songs
and would have sing-offs from village to village.”
They found a Church in
each of the eight villages they visited scattered across a 34 mile
area, where Ramsey and his team even found an amazing 1000-seat
“Stone Cathedral” in one of the villages. He learned that this
Church had become so crowded in the 1980s, with many villagers
walking miles to attend, that a Church planting movement began in the
“There is no Bible in
the Yansi language, they used a French Bible, so those who taught had
to be fluent in French.”
Apparently, Dr. Leslie
had crossed the Kwilu River once a year from Vanga and spent a month
traveling through the jungle, carried by servants in a sedan chair.
“He would teach the
Bible, while teaching the tribal children how to read and write, he
talked about the importance of education, and told Bible stories,”
Ramsey notes that Dr.
Leslie started the first organized educational system in these
According to Eric
Ramsey, it took some digging to uncover Leslie’s identity.
“The tribal people
only knew him by one name and they didn’t know if that was a first
or last name. They knew he was a Baptist and he was based in that one
city and they knew the years.”
When Ramsey returned
home he did some additional investigation and discovered Dr. Leslie
was affiliated with the American Baptist Missionary Union. The
American Baptist Missionary Union was founded in 1814 by Adoniram
Judson, who led a pioneering work in Burma.
Born in Ontario,
Canada, William H. Leslie followed his intended profession as a
pharmacist until his conversion
in 1888. He moved to
the Chicago area, where God began to grip his heart with the desire
to become a medical missionary.
Dr. Leslie initiated
his Congo service in 1893 at Banza-Manteke. Two years later he
developed a serious illness. A young missionary named Clara Hill
took care of him until he recovered and heir budding friendship
ripened into love and a marriage proposal and they were wed in 1896.
In 1905 William and
Clara pioneered a work in Cuilo, Anglola, where they overcame a
hurricane that struck the night before one of their children was born
and more mundane obstacles like charging buffaloes and armies of
Seven years later they
cleared enough of the leopard-infested jungle along the Kwilu River
at Vanga for a new mission station perched on a small plateau. Some
of the villages surrounding Vanga were still practicing cannibalism
at that time.
They spent 17 years at
Vanga, but their service ended on a rocky note;
“Dr. Leslie had a
relational falling out with some of the tribal leaders and was asked
not to come back, Although they reconciled later; there were
apologies and forgiveness, but it did not end quite like he had
His goal was to spread
Christianity throughout the Yansi tribes but he felt that he was a
failure after he was there for 17 years and never really made a