Failing in Public

July 21, 2018 • Life for Leaders

In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!

Mark 15:31


The other day, I was interviewed for a podcast. Normally, I quite enjoy being part of a podcast. Podcasts are often casual, fun, and the conversation flows pretty freely. But in the middle of this conversation, the interviewer said, “It’s been kind of hard for us to watch you, well, flounder over the past few months.” She went on to ask me to talk about how it felt from my perspective. What advice could I give listeners and all of that.

Items on a desk that remind of recent failures.In the months leading up to this particular interview, I have moved halfway across the country, had a major tour cancelled in quite a public fashion, experienced a huge disappointment with regard to the publication of my last book, and have been unable to snag an “impressive” job (or, for that fact, an interview for an “impressive” job). I have secretly wondered if onlookers consider me a failure. I’ve wondered if people even remember me and my two books and the speaking I’ve done and the so-called “influence” I’ve had. Sitting on my couch listening to this interviewer’s question, I no longer had to wonder.

However, through the years, I have learned that some of what we call “failure” is really just growth, or transition, or a lesson being learned. It is the act of discovering something new about ourselves and the world, or entering in to a new season, or becoming more fully alive. Sometimes, this internal work takes place in private, but other times it is a very public affair and, to others, it may look like what we have come to call “failure.”

Be careful of defining yourself by how others perceive you. No one among us knows all of the story and—thanks be to God!—not a single one of our stories is finished, yet. Of course, no one knows this better than Jesus, who hung on a cross between two thieves, died, and was buried in a borrowed tomb. As far as anyone could tell, this self-proclaimed “Light of the World” had been snuffed out. For good. But you and I both know the rest of that story, and it is so very far from failure.

Something To Think About:

When was the last time you “failed” in public? Was it truly a failure? Why or why not?

Something To Do:

Write out your own definition of the word, “failure.” Don’t use a dictionary. Just write out words to explain how you understand “failure.”


Lord, help me not be so hard on myself, or on others. Teach me to be full of grace, as you are toward me. Thank you for working all things together for good. Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentarySeven Happy Lessons from Failure



6 thoughts on “Failing in Public

  1. Roy Sailor says:

    Thank you for this important message. A powerful reminder that we all stumble and fall, and when we do Jesus is there to help us get up and get going again. Another day begins well, with this devotion. Thank you.

  2. Margie Tomlinson says:

    Thank you! Yes, “Teach me to be full of Grace”

  3. K V Simon says:

    How grateful we are to the Lord who dealt with Peter who failed ; so graciously in John 21 . It is that same Lord who has taken charge of of our lives . No, we are never alone ,
    leaning upon the everlasting arms let us patiently walk in the way of faith and truth .
    Thank you .

  4. Yvonne Meek says:

    This is so timely for me … going through a huge very public business failure. It is so difficult to see myself through God’s perspective as I feel that this is the final straw in a life of failure even though I’ve believed that God was leading, directing, opening the doors …
    Longing to see God’s face and hear his voice …

  5. Larry Brook says:

    by Larry Brook
    April 2018

    I did it again, put my mouth in grear before I startged my brain.
    Not even I wanted to hear what I said.

    Impatient, short tempered, and too loud about it.
    magnifying faults, calling out imperfections, always pointing at someone else.

    Don’t accept any bets
    ‘cause I ain’t done yet.

    Playing them over and over those ancient memories
    Wrong moves, hostile reactions, stupid choices, moral colapses.

    Out of nowhere they come, in full color and filled with shame and regret
    Transported I can do nothing but cry out with groans and remorse.

    Don’t you go and fret
    ‘cause I ani’t done yet.

    His Spirit dwells within and fuels my goodness
    it calls my runaway thoughts back to the newness of now

    His promises shine light on my darkend pathway
    His ever present love rolls the stumbling stones away as he says

    Don’t you fear there’s no threat
    ‘cause I ain’t done yet.
    Deidra, you ain’t anywhere done yet.
    God bless!

  6. May Simonds says:

    I LOVE Diedre’s blog, thoughts, posts, wisdom. Always learn something and am inspired. God speaks through you, D! Thank you!

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