Failure. The Greatest of All Christmas Gifts.

by PJ McClure on December 24, 2012

My daily amazement with how God can direct my thoughts is one of my favorite elements of life. Mostly, I consciously push my mind toward how people and companies can optimize their existence. The things of quality management systems, leadership styles, and return on investment fascinate me.

So why is it that I’m constantly, and I mean constantly, up to my neck in philosophical and theological applications of business and life? It took me decades to come to grips with what is now, an obvious fact. This is where my gifts are.

Why did it take me so long to come to grips with something others have told me since I was a kid? I’m not sure. More confounding than my continual denial and delay is why I have had so many chances to make it happen. Isn’t there a shelf life on personal gifts? Doesn’t it make sense that after a certain number of failed attempts or failures to launch that our window would close? Yes! To me it makes perfect sense. Fortunately, life isn’t dictated by my limited perspective.

With Christmas approaching, I find myself contemplating something I’ve taken for granted my entire life. God’s gift of Jesus. What does it actually mean to me on a daily basis? Is there something beyond the eternal applications we can learn and bring it back to our existence on earth? The beginnings of the answer to my question start in the concept of God’s gifts.

Does failure diminish the viability or availability of our gifts?

The Christian Bible is full of stories that seem to say, failure is a necessary element to realizing the value of a gift. Our issue in seeing it in our own lives is perspective. When we rely on own perspective and understanding, the failures seem insurmountable and fatal to living our purpose. When we read Biblical stories we are given the advantage of distance, which in turn gives us perspective to see the bigger picture.

We can’t lose sight of the fact that many of the events recorded in the Bible were viewed as utter and epic failures at the time. It is only from God’s perspective that we can see the realization of gifts through these stories. Take the New Testament as a glaring example.

At the time, people expected the fulfillment of a prophesy. The basis of their expectation was the birth of a king that would save and liberate his people. Let’s see how they did.

  • Child conceived by a girl who was betrothed to a man, but had not had sex with that man. By law, he had the right to have her stoned to death. Not exactly a fantasy beginning. Fail.
  • Instead of being born in a royal palace with all of the protection and advantages due a future king, he was born in a barn with commoners as his first visitors. Fail.
  • Kings in training gain credibility from military training and regal surroundings. Jesus grew up a carpenter in Nazareth. Nothing good can come from Nazareth. Fail.
  • Kings draw power from the pomp and circumstance of a coronation, usually conducted by the highest religious figurehead. Jesus was dunked in a river by a guy wearing animal skins. Fail.
  • Kings assemble armies of skilled warriors, wise counselors, and social elite. Compare that with fishermen, prostitutes, and beggars. Fail.
  • Kings enter major confrontations in chariots or on horseback, armor gleaming and shouting cries of war. Who’s this guy on the donkey? Fail.
  • Kings conquer with fury and vengeance, ending the battle by standing atop the bodies of their slain enemy. No king would ever voluntarily subject himself to a ghastly and gruesome death without taking as many of his oppressors with him as he could. Fail.
  • The legacies of kings are signified by the grandeur of their monuments and the contents of their tombs… but his is unmarked and empty.

How could any of these things add up to the realization of a gift? What kind of crazy math do we need to make these events add up to a victorious savior and liberator of his people? If you had the chance to design the beginnings of a movement that would be stronger than ever over 2,000 years from now, would you choose any of those pieces to get started with?

Why does this work and what does it have to do with any of us and the use of our gifts? The example and perspective.

God’s gifts are not bound by time or failure. Jesus’ ministry was about three years long and changed the face of civilization forever. If you embraced your gift today, would you have three years to make the most of it? No one knows. The point isn’t about our concept of time, it’s about use.

If you engaged yourself in thoughts and actions that made your heart sing and your soul breathe, would time be your biggest concern? From my experience and that of others, the answer is, NO. The impact of your gift has nothing to do with how much time you engage. It’s about what you do while engaged.

Do the years of denying your gifts or the failures amassed while trying to break through keep you from meaningful impact? Absolutely not! If anything, your failures can expose, refine, and strengthen your gifts. Coal to diamonds, ore to metals, and carpenters to kings. You get the point.

There is no such thing as an outcome that must remain a failure. We can see throughout recorded history how God can take any event perceived as a failure and shape it to His aim. In creating us in His image, we received a version of that same power. No matter the outcome, we can determine and assign the meaning. That means it is never too late.

What gift have you long denied? What failed attempts at a dream have discouraged your will to fly? Is it time to reframe and rethink your perceptions? I hope so, because I promise you that it is time to act.

 Be your best,





Michelle Pearson December 26, 2012 at 8:30 am

One of your most powerful articles! So appreciate the gifts in you!

denny hagel December 22, 2011 at 10:05 am

Excellent article PJ with a powerful message for all of us as no one is immune from the feelings of perceived failure. Great timing for me personally so I thank you very much! Happy Holidays! :)

Sonia December 22, 2011 at 9:10 am

PJ, you and God did it again!

Thank you for the beautiful truths in this article! And thank you, Laura, for your thoughts as well!

I have failed many times in what God called me to do–at least, in the way I see it. What I don’t see until God hits me over the head with it, is that even in the times that I have failed, He has not! Maybe several weeks or years were spent in a job that seemed to be going nowhere, only for Him to bring me to a point of being able to minister to a particular person or group. All of the experiences I had in those “fruitless” years finally came together in a wonderful, powerful way for God to fulfill a plan that He did not have to discuss with me beforehand! Ain’t God grand?!!

To everyone who reads this: May your Christmas be blessed and your New Year be filled with the greatest Gift of all, Jesus Christ and His holiness.

Laura December 22, 2011 at 7:51 am

Excellent! Thanks for sharing (again!).

Lately I have been reading in John and “noticing” that Christ did everything with the end purpose in mind…and that purpose: to die and rise victorious over sin and death, had a specific time for it to be carried out. In some cases, He avoided certain places and people in order that God’s perfect “time-table” be met.
How often we think that we “missed the opportunity” when in reality, it could be that we (or others) were being prepared that we might fulfill HIS purpose for our life in a more effective manner! To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven….

Christmas Blessings to you and your family!

Anonymous December 31, 2010 at 3:04 am

PJ…I cannot tell you how this article has impacted my thoughts in just the few minutes it took to read it. Thanks very much for this Christmas gift.

Susan McKenzie December 28, 2010 at 6:43 pm

If failure qualifies us and is our entrance ticket, then I’m ALL in! Thanks, PJ, or an uplifting, encouraging message!

Jeff December 28, 2010 at 8:07 am

I have experienced this myself numerous times after some “failure”. I look back with a new perspective and can see what I’ve learned or accomplished. It happens so often that I’m starting to watch for it because I know God has good intentions for me, and the “failures” really don’t feel like failures any more.

And, I too am coming to grips with where my true gifts are. I’m learning to embrace who I really am and move forward. Our time here is short and, as you say, “it is time to act.”

Thank you so much for this article PJ. Often people don’t write about Christianity and how Jesus affects their lives because it isn’t popular in modern society, but I want you to know I really appreciate it.

Your article is very encouraging. You can’t make an impact on everyone, but on those you do, you can make it really count.

sham sunder azad December 28, 2010 at 5:32 am

obviously with seasons’ greetings-

life would always welcome such beautiful thoughts
of intellrctuals
however there must not be any-even hidden,vested interest,
it must be pure emotional companionship
life is manifold enriched

more specific candid reviews later on

lets be on tune with your views


sham sunder azad-

PJ McClure December 28, 2010 at 4:10 pm

I’m intrigued to hear more of your specific view. Thanks for being here and I look forward to more.

Raclarke11 December 27, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Reminds me of bamboo, it may lie dormant for years and then all of a sudden it sprouts.

Anonymous December 27, 2010 at 9:26 pm

Wow. At lunch today I talked with my husband about whether I should have started writing years ago and I felt a twinge of doubt and regret. Thank you for this perspective! It is true that failures expose, refine and strengthen gifts and I am living proof of that. I am printing this one to keep and re-read!

Victoria Gazeley December 27, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Thanks for this, PJ. This one line: “Jesus’ ministry was about three years long and changed the face of civilization forever,” knocked me flat. I’d never thought of it like that before. Now THAT is a powerful endorsement to embrace our gifts today. Thanks so much for sharing this.

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