Fail and Shake it Off
Then Jesus called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. He said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them." They departed and went through the villages, bringing the good news and curing diseases everywhere.
In the Silicon Valley failure is common. People gather from all over the world with big ideas and great hopes, seeking the support of popular tastes and the dollars of venture capitalists that believe enough to invest in impossible things.
After receiving tens of millions in funding, startups fail. But often the founders will get funding again and the stories that are told about failures are like notches in a belt. It is simply part of the culture of innovation. The question is not whether you fail, but what you are failing to and what you do next- how you keep going.
Many of us were taught that failure is a big fat sin. It is better to stick with what we are good at, to avoid losing, or appearing imperfect. Our vocation is to steer clear of looking bad or being wrong. But what if our call as people of faith in this time is to fail our way to something new? What if we are to risk getting it wrong to shout to the world that we are not here to work, that peace is not idealistic, that our worth is not economic? What if we should be failing more?
Jesus was used to failure. He spent his time bending the rules, pushing people in power, asking hard questions and trying to live with radical love, therefore failure was part of it. So perhaps we shouldn’t avoid it. Before Jesus left he gave his students some brief instructions on how to fail as they set out to share some Good News. “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money—not even an extra tunic. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and leave from there. Wherever they do not welcome you, as you are leaving that town shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” “If people don’t welcome you, shake it off!” It’s not whether you fail, but what you are failing to and what you do next- how you shake it off and keep going.
Gracious God, help us to understand that we are not here to always get it right. Inspire us to use our gifts with abandon so that we fail our way to amazing things. Amen.