October 2013

Making Mistakes . . . and Being Restored

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”

Romans 8:28a


I’ve always been a curious onlooker – a people watcher who enjoys studying human behavior.  Perhaps I’m driven by thoughts of: What can I learn? What should I avoid?

One of the observations I frequently make reminds me that everyone has failed and made mistakes . . . and some get back up and some don’t.

Numerous studies have been done on the topic of mistakes, why people make wrong decisions, and why people fail. 

A recurring principle that stands out is that many people have learned that failure is not fatal nor is it final. We can be restored even when we make mistakes or bad decisions; even our lack of faith can be restored.  In fact, often these bumps in life’s road can serve as some of our best friends and teachers. 

“The worth of a man must be measured by his life, not by

his failure under a singular and peculiar trial.”  (James Froude, British historian)


How can we learn from our failures, mistakes, and broken hearts? 

We can learn what not to say or do. Through that process we recognize our blind spots, plus we see that there are dangerous people and activities lurking to bring us harm.  Pain is a good way to get our attention. It screams at us to protect ourselves better and to avoid certain activities, people, and/or dangers.

All of us have taken risks and all of us have failed.  We have attempted many things and made a lot of mistakes.  Instead of living in the discouragement of something you did, think of your mistake as a learning experience, as a tool to help you improve. It has provided you with a difficult but valuable education.  Even if we have sinned while making our mistake, we can take that to the Lord, give restitution when necessary, receive forgiveness, and put it behind us . . . all while learning that we must avoid doing that sin in the future (see 1 John 1:9; 2:1).

Peter made some tragic decisions: 

  • When he was fearful and confused, he disowned Jesus . . . three times (John 18:15-27, Luke 22:61). 
  • When Jesus was arrested and taken to trial (on trumped up charges), Peter didn’t come to his defense, but denied that he was one of Jesus' disciples (John 18: 25-27). 

I can only imagine the pain that Peter felt.

Perhaps out of discouragement, Peter disassociated himself from the one he knew to be God’s Messiah, and returned to his occupation of fishing.  He was probably thinking: What do I do? Where do I go? How do I live my life now?  He likely let the guilt of making a tragic mistake haunt him.

While they were fishing, the resurrected Jesus appeared to Peter and seven of the disciples.  When Peter recognized who was coming, he jumped into the water and went to him.  Jesus ate with the disciples and then asked Peter three times if he loved him . . . the same amount of times that Peter had disowned Jesus (see John 21:15-17).  As Peter answered Jesus affirmatively, the Lord instructed him to love, to care for, and to feed “my sheep,” basically saying, Do what I have called you to do.

Peter was reinstated!


A term we often hear is “get over it.”  Essential to our growth is the ability to put our past behind us while learning from our mistakes. 

Romans 8:28 tells us, “In all things, God works for the good of those who love him.”  God never stops working, healing, and restoring YOUR life.  He has not forgotten the price you’ve paid, the commitments you’ve made, and all you’ve done. 


Broken dreams, rejections, bad choices, failures, mistakes, and “heavy hits” in life can paralyze us.  Leaders are often discouraged because frequently they don’t get it exactly right.

Romans reminds us that with God all things work together for our good (8:28).  God is the God of the second chance, the third chance, and more. He understands our weaknesses, and has watched multitudes of gifted people make bad decisions.  If we’re willing to learn, admit our failures, and start again with His help, He will be there when we call on Him. 

“For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again” (Proverbs 24:16).


Don’t quit because you’ve made a mistake or you’ve even been involved in a tragic sin.  Know that if we bring our sins to Him, God will forgive. We can learn . . . and be restored.


Please don’t give up. Go on living a deeper life as a more educated and mature, disciple of Jesus.  Leaders do fail . . . many leaders decide to learn from failure and press on.


Always know that I am . . . 

Your Friend and Servant in Christ,
Wayde Goodall, D.Min

Dean, College of Ministry

Northwest University


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