Excerpt for Failure Need Not Be Fatal by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


Need Not Be


By Martin G. Tharp, Ph.D.

Copyright © 2017

Smashwords Edition, License Notes; This ebook is licensed for your own personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this ebook with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to smashwords.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.. Scripture quotations identified KJV are from the Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible, King James Version. Copyright 1984, 1991 by AMG International, INC and the Living Bible Copyright 1971,1986 by Tyndale House Publishers INC

Available from:

The Tharp Family Ministries

3982 Green Forest Parkway

Smyrna, Georgia 30082





Table of Contents


1. Failure Could Lead to Success

2. Never Be Afraid To Fail

3. Paralyzed By Fear Of Failure

4. Epic Proportion Failures

5. 21 Famous Failures

6. Fundamental Principles of Failure

7. Adult Attitudes About Failure

8. The # 1Failure Of Many Pastors

9. Mark The Failure

10. Failures who Proved Failure need not be Fatal

11. Dealing With Failure

12. A Short Lesson on Failure

13. Failure Does Not Mean Collapse

14. The Biblical Concept Of Failure

15. 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 ministry.

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 ministry!

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 quit!

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 thy children.”

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!”

Chapter One


Could 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 of growth!

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 laziness!

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 non-existent?

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 examination;

1. Is this going to be just like the last time.

2. Will the same thing happen again?

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 death”(Romans 8:1-2;KJV).

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;

“Forgetting those 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.

Actually, a 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;

“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.

He who has called us is faithful and His Grace causes us to strain forward, clinging to Him.

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 appointed goal!

His love enables me to lift my eyes from sin and self that I may behold the face of my loving Savior!

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 Fatal!”

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 surrounding villages.

“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 villages,

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 ants.

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 hoped.”

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 noticeable impact.

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