I was recently rummaging through some stuff out in the garage or in some other extremely messy part of my home. I came across a single sheet of paper that was a copy that had been made of someone’s notes. The handwriting looked very familiar…very familiar. As I looked over the content of the notes I thought, “Dang, I think this was some of Dad’s stuff.” Scrawled out in that familiar penmanship were the following:
2. Learn from your mistakes.
Continued mistakes are not mistakes, they’re decisions.
3. Teach others from your mistakes.
4. Move beyond your mistakes.
Section 2: Passing Culture Down
1. You must model it.
I have no idea what number 1 was up there in Section 1, or even what Section 1 was called. I have to believe it had something to do with mistakes. Section 2 will be followed up on in an upcoming blog post. Today, I want to focus on the words scrawled out in Section 1.
There are very few things about which I would call myself an expert. One thing that I will unabashedly claim expert status on is the subject of mistakes. I am an expert on mistakes. Having made so many in so many different areas of my life, I am well qualified to speak on mistakes.
Areas where I’ve made mistakes:
Personal behavior (no need for detail here)
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Over the years mistakes have often caused much pain, heartache, embarrassment, and may have even cost me some money at times. That said, most of the little bit of wisdom I’ve acquired has often been a result of these same embarrassing lapses. As I read the notes I shared above, one of my dad’s other sayings regarding mistakes came to mind. Dad always told me, “Make your mistakes full speed.” Dad was big on asking his players to give maximum effort every play. He said that even if you make a mistake, if you’re going all out, sometimes good things will happen. He also wanted to insure that if a mistake was made, it wasn’t because of a lack of effort. That stuck with me. At times, I may have even gotten out of balance on the whole, “do everything at full speed,” mantra. That being said, I really believe that Dad was on to something with this approach. Allowing for mistakes as long as the effort was there meant that I was freed up to take risks and to be “loose,” in the way I played the game. His direction in the notes he scribbled made that clear.
1. Learn from your mistakes. Continued mistakes are not mistakes, they’re decisions.
Like a dog that returns to its vomit, a fool does the same foolish things again and again. Proverbs 26:11
My pastor teaches us that God often uses the toughest stuff we go through to help others who may be going through the same type of stuff. We make the mistake of thinking that the mistakes we’ve made disqualifies us for ministry. Oftentimes, it is these very mistakes that allow us to have the empathy, humility, grace, and love necessary to truly convey God’s love to someone in crisis.
For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. Proverbs 24:16
Far too often we allow ourselves to be defined by our mistakes. On the other hand, we may seek to be defined by our successes. Both of these miss out on Who defines us. We are not defined by anything we do. Rather, we are defined by a good God who has acted on our behalf to tell us who we are and what our value is. Mistakes are tough in the moment. But remember, God is the redeemer of our mistakes. He truly will use these things to help others and bring glory to Himself. In the meantime, He allows us to experience a life filled with purpose and fulfillment as we live out what we were created to do, love God and love other people.
Each day we go into the world with the opportunity to make an impact. Each person whose paths cross ours matters. Lives intersect for a reason. I believe there is One who directs our steps to these sometimes seemingly random meetings. My goal for these encounters is that I make a difference. That is my desire for those who venture across my blog. I hope you are blessed and it makes a difference for you.