Twenty years before the American Revolution, a young colonel from Virginia valiantly helped lead British troops into battle. It was 1755, early in the French and Indian War, and George Washington was confident of victory over the French.
The British had the most disciplined, best armed, and most feared military in the world. England’s victory over the French was almost certain, both on paper and in reality. But instead of the anticipated smooth triumph, the British army was devastate by both enemy and friendly fire. Colonel Washington had two horses shot out from under him, and his jacket and hat were penetrated several times by bullets as he darted back and forth along the firing line trying to rally his disheartened troops. Amazingly, Washington survived unscathed.
The surviving men in his militia marveled at his courage and valor, and people throughout the colony raved about the heroism of this young man, but Colonel Washington wasn’t impressed. He lost. He failed. He was devastated. Others spoke highly of his military actions, yet when Washington was asked to lead again he replied, “I wish…it were more in my power than it is to answer the favorable opinion my friends have conceived of my abilities. Let them not be deceived; I am unequal to the task…”
If you’ve been a pastor for any time at all, my gut tells me that you have felt the devastation of FAILURE.
You believed deeply in your church plant, your ministry, or the call on your life. You may even have had friends, like Washington, who stood by and observed your commitment and still encouraged you. However, if you’re like me, you may look back at them in disbelief and say, “I am unequal to the task….” FAILURE stings like a Muhammad Ali punch. It leaves you disillusioned and dismayed. It throws life’s gravity off kilter. It leaves your spiritual eyes searching for focus.
Washington did, in fact, lead again many times over during the American Revolution. It was his brutal defeat twenty years earlier as a Virginia Colonel that made him realize the limits and weaknesses of Great Britain’s military.
It was this man, this self-described “failure,” that led a small band of rebels toward one of the greatest revolutions in known history. Yes, twenty years later England was defeated, and this mere farmer became the first President of the United States.
I am not writing to promise you great titles like “General” or “President.” I am writing to tell you that as a pastor, expastor, visionary, or anyone experiencing an everyday “failure”: it is not over for you. Just like Washington, yesterday’s mistakes become today’s victories. It doesn’t matter if it leads to a massive revolution. What matters is that God will lead you out of crippling failure and into His plan for your life.
God had his plan for Washington; what’s His plan for you?
Pray. Repent. Discover.