I know the feeling; been there, done that. I got the t-shirt, the hat and the water bottle. It’s a terrible feeling to be put in the failure category. You may feel like your failures have disqualified you from God’s calling.
Before Jesus came into my life, I was filled with fear and doubt. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home. I was born in a family with a mother who was a devout believer but a father who was a dogmatic atheist. Growing up, my father had a major anger problem and physically abused my mother and us kids. I was in great fear of him. Things only worsened as I grew up.
Whenever I was afraid, scared or hurt, I turned to the things of the world. I abused alcohol, smoked and even did drugs. I hated myself because of how powerless I was. I couldn’t protect my mother, my brothers and my sister from my father. I was so young. I began to desire after power, money and fame. I needed respect and authority to be able to protect my loved ones surrounding me. I used fear to gain all things.
Question: What areas in your past life do you struggle to let go?
This was the beginning of me joining the world of violence and pain—the life of a gang. By age 15, I was an angry, depressed youth. I knew, down deep inside, life had to be more than indulging in fights, gambling, immorality, disrespect and other destructive behaviors. I always wore a mask.
In spite of my emotionless life, I knew it wasn’t good. I acted tough yet in reality, I lived in great fear. Then, I was caught by the police. I got kicked out of school, left the gang and left the girl I was dating. Then, I began to seek the Lord. That same year, I became a carpenter without any hope but Jesus. At age 16, I met a Pastor who shared the gospel with me and for the first time in my life, I decided to profess Jesus Christ as Lord.
My life has never been the same since meeting Jesus. After I came to know the Lord, I was filled with passion for His Word. My first thought was, “I don’t want to waste this life that has been entrusted to me. I want this life to count for His glory.” God saved me from a life filled with open, vile, rebellious sin. I wanted the whole world to know about Jesus as my hearts desire was to dedicate everything back to Him. I wanted to use my life to serve Him as a pastor.
The hardest part of this was the Christian community. I struggled the first few years as a Christian because I felt persecution from within the church. The glaring eyes of believers brought disgust to my soul, feeling like the filth of the earth—rubbish. I was disrespected and dismissed by those Christians. Some believers said, “You’ll never become a pastor.” I questioned myself many times. Was it because I had a GPA 1.2 in high school that I had no chance? Was it because of the past record I had before Christ? Did I make so many mistakes I disqualified myself? These questions filled my mind. These questions too, are probably ones you wrestle with as you read this post.
Your failures are lenses
Too many of us assume Christianity belongs only to the perfect people who know all the right Bible-trivia answers. I see the opposite in Scripture. In the New Testament, Paul says it this way, “Brothers, if someone is caught in any wrongdoing, you who are spiritual should restore such a person with a gentle spirit, watching out for yourselves so you also won’t be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1).
Hurting churches hurt people. The church is a hospital of sinners, not a museum for saints. We often try to avoid messed up people. But when we look to Christ’s interaction with messy sinners, He is counter-cultural in His approach. Matt Chandler said it well, “Jesus doesn’t avoid those who mess up. Jesus runs to those who mess up.”
Jesus came for sinners.
We see this in the account of Luke 15 of the prodigal son. It’s a scandalous love He has for those who deserve none. Jesus came for the pimps, prostitutes and the outcast. He loves to run after sinners. He looks for you from a distance over the horizon, with overwhelming compassion, He throws Himself over your neck, He kisses you again and again, He gives you new clothes, new shoes, a new ring, kills a fatted-calf and throws a party celebrating restoration with the sinner.
When we look to Christ and His select disciples, they were bunch of ordinary, messed up guys. The 12 disciples had many weaknesses. Jesus picked a fisherman, a tax collector, a political zealot – then, turned their weaknesses into strengths. This call of biblical leadership is for the rest of us—you and me. People who have messed up, people who don’t have their act together, people who are dealing with problems.
The next time you feel unqualified to be used by God, remember this: God tends to recruit from the pit not the pedestal. Remember this, God used Paul in the early church—He can use you today—as a godly husband and father. Throughout history, God has done extraordinary things through ordinary people. I am convinced the greatest need of the church today is more men who will abandon their dreams, possessions, treasures at the feet of the cross and rise up to be disciples multiplying the gospel to the ends of the earth. What would this look like in your family? Living with radical abandonment for His glory, faithful adherence to His person, and urgent obedience to His ministry is the only way to live a fruitful Christian life.
Men are God’s divine design to champion the children’s faith by mobilizing the entire family to equip the children (Eph. 4:12). The family is the number one influence on the spiritual development of our children. It is a powerful reminder in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 6:4, that parents (especially fathers), not only in Old Testament times but also those under the New Covenant realize that spiritual development starts within the home.
Now, not every man is called to leadership in the church, but every man is called to spiritual leadership.
We need the whole gospel, through the whole church, for the whole world. We need more than just the one percent of the pastors or missionaries to engage the culture. The rest the 99 percent need to embrace the depth and the breath of God’s power by engaging the needy, guilty, and perishing world.
I believe ministry begins in the home and by capturing the heart of the father. God stakes the future of the church and the Christian family on men. As the men in the church go, so goes the church. As the church goes, so goes the world. Biblical fatherhood understands you can use your past failures as opportunities to point to God's and His grace.
Question: What areas in your past life do you struggle to let go? You can always email us.
About the author > Jonathan Hayashi, M. Div.
Jonathan (B.A. and M.A., Moody Theological Seminary) is on pastoral staff at First Baptist Church in Troy, MO. He is a doctoral student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He is married to Kennedi and has two daughters. Find him on Twitter and his blog Evangelica Sola. Grab his Field Guide Making Lemonade.
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