Freedom to Fail

A couple weeks ago, my class was in chaos after a heated P.E. game of capture the flag. So much so, that we never even got to science that day and I’m completely ok with that.

It started out with shouting and stampeding up the stairs to our classroom where I met them at the door with the “teacher look” and tried to compose myself before responding in a way that definitely would not have been good. (Teachers are humans too, ya know?!) So I stopped. I prayed. And stretched out my hands, imagining Jesus calming the storm in their little hearts. I try to remember what it was like to be ten years old and every conflict feels like it’s taking over your world. As I waded into what was going on, the Spirit gave me the wisdom to see what was in the hearts of these sweet little sinners. There was finger-pointing and name-calling, blame shifting and pride. A perfect place to see Jesus lifted high.

As teachers, we are charged with the great task of not only shepherding our students’ minds towards knowledge but also shepherding their hearts to the cross. I’m not in the business of behavior modification, but seeing them come to a true place of putting Jesus on the throne of their lives.

At the root of all of this conflict was the seemingly simple desire to win. It’s a desire that we all have—we all want to succeed and win. But this desire to win was a devious root of sin creeping in and producing all kinds of nasty fruits, causing them to lash out towards each other when that desire wasn’t satisfied.

After a few minutes of talking through the situation, I posed the question, “What if you failed at every game for the rest of your life? Every math test? Every goal?” (Not exactly the typical teacher speech, I know). But it opened the conversation to “Who won the greatest victory of all time?” Jesus. Jesus looked like he was defeated on the cross by darkness, yet he rose in victorious light and stands in that victory today and for all eternity. Not only that, but he gives us that victory! There is no amount of wins or losses that will ever compare to the victory that we already have in Christ.

It’s so easy to want to stay in our comfort zones, where we know our capabilities and just how far we can go without failing…or maybe that’s just me. I see it so much in my own life, especially being in another country where everything feels just outside my reach. I find myself choosing to avoid situations or slip into the background. In my flesh, I avoid failure at all costs. I don’t want to look silly when I say something wrong in Spanish and I want to have it all together as a teacher. But it’s exhausting, and Jesus has called me to so much more. He’s called me to rely on Him for every step, and walk in the freedom of his victory. I’m not defined by my success or failure—any success is by the grace of God and any failure is glory to God because, in my weakness, He is made great; in both cases, the good news of Jesus is lifted high.

“We don’t earn God’s love. We don’t deserve God’s love. But love is exactly what God pours out upon His people. We spend our lives trying to prove that we’re worth something, that people should pay attention to us, that we’re special. But once we realize that we can never earn God’s love, we can’t try harder, we can’t just be better, we can’t ever really prove ourselves, but that, through Jesus, we receive it anyways, we step into the glorious freedom of grace.” (Brent Thomas, Saturate the World).

So we have the freedom to fail. There’s no fear in not being good enough or not succeeding. Let’s step out in faith and be so confident in the victory that Christ has won for us that we have no fear of failure. Let’s walk in our identity as conquerors and coheirs with Christ as we see His kingdom come in our families, classrooms, neighborhoods, and all over the world.


-Kristen McDonald, GEM Missionary 
If you’d like to support Kristen and her husband, Daniel as they serve with GEM in Mexico, you can do so HERE. You can also contact them directly to talk further about what it means to be on their support team and find out how you can be praying for them!

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