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3 things we can learn about Peter’s failures

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like a complete failure in life. Sometimes I forget to say “thank you” after the barista hands me my coffee, sometimes I don’t say “excuse me” as I nudged by someone on my way to work, sometimes I lose my temper with co-workers, and sometimes I come home to a dark apartment and accidentally step on my sleeping cat’s tail. These things happen, but it doesn’t mean we are failing in life.


Let us take a look at our good friend, Peter, in the Bible. He was your average man who tried his hardest to do good deeds and follow Jesus, but let's be honest, he failed—often. And that’s what makes him extremely relatable.


Let’s take a look at three different situations where we can learn from Peter’s mistakes:



1. Failing to focus


While on a boat, Peter had enough faith to walk on water towards Jesus after he was called to. Pretty impressive for an average guy, right?  At least it was impressive until Peter got scared of the wind and began to drown (Matthew 14:28-31). Let’s examine that a little more. It wasn’t the fear of monstrous sea creatures swimming in the clouded sea or the immeasurable depths of the water that stopped Peter in his tracks. It was the wind that worried Peter, causing him to lose focus on Jesus and begin sinking.


I don’t know about you, but I would have been freaked out by the water and not so much of the wind. Likewise, we have the power to trample sin—to rise above the sea of infractions in our society. Yet, how many times do we lose our focus on Jesus to wind-like distractions?



Moral of the story—Peter failed to stay focused.


What you can do—Stay focused on Jesus and dodge the distractions.



2. Failing to let God


Peter had a short fuse and a passion for justice, which ultimately lead him to cut a servant’s ear off with a sword. Fortunately for the servant, Jesus kindly reattached the disfigured body part back on the man’s head and lectured Peter with “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (John 18:10-11). Humanistically, it seemed like the reasonable thing for Peter to do considering the circumstances of Jesus’s arrest. Though, why did Peter aim for the ear of all things?  The truth: Peter was probably targeting the man’s head and accidentally struck the ear instead.


Like Peter, we often take matters into our own hands instead of bringing them to Jesus. As a result, we usually miss our mark and mess up. If Peter had only waited on Jesus instead of leaning on own understanding, then maybe the servant would have been spared from an unfortunate experience and Peter wouldn’t have had to learn the hard way.


Moral of the story—Peter failed to lean on Jesus.


What you can do—Take your concerns to Jesus before you leaning on your own understanding.



3. Failing to stay “woke”


On the night before Jesus’s betrayal and arrest, he was in grave sorrow and asked three of his disciples to stay awake and pray for one hour while he went to pray alone.  Peter, who was one of the three with Jesus, fell asleep instead of doing what was asked of him. Not once, but three times Peter decided to hit the hay on Jesus. In each instance, Jesus went to Peter and told him to keep watch and pray, but Peter kept failing (Mark 14:32-42). Just about any sleep deprived college student could agree it’s extremely painful to stay away in the late hours of the night while studying. So in all fairness, Peter didn’t even have coffee to keep him up.


Peter really isn’t so different than us in this situation either. God is constantly giving us instructions just like he did with Peter.  Sometimes we might not understand why God asks us to do certain things and sometimes it seems impossible to obey at times, but there is a reason God asks particular things of us. Perhaps Jesus was trying to teach Peter perseverance? Whatever it may be that God is trying to express to us, we must listen and obey.


Moral of the story—Peter failed to obey Jesus.


What you can do—If God is leading you to do something, do it. Remember the flesh is weak and eager to give up, but the spirit is willing and eager to press onward.


In the big short,  Peter was very good at failing, but he was even better at not giving up. Even through the countless errors he made, Peter refused to throw in the towel. He learned from his bad decisions and allowed God to shape and mold him into one of the most popular characters in the Bible. So next time you're feeling down about yourself, remember Peter. Take a deep breath and try again.


Hannah Gonsman

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