Daily Riches: Failure is Normal and Essential (John Ortberg)

“Experts in the learning field sometimes talk about the J-curve, a graph measuring performance, in which someone initially does worse before they start improving….


The J-curve is normal: We do worse for a season before we do better. If you have been hitting tennis backhands the wrong way, when someone teaches you the correct grip, proper form, and right footwork, when you begin to try to hit them the right way — you will actually hit them worse than when you were trying the wrong way! If you stick with it, however, eventually your backhand will be far better than before. But you have to accept that at first it will be worse. When the disciple Peter first exercised enough faith to get out of the boat, he sank and looked worse than any of the other disciples. When he tried to defend Jesus, he cut off a man’s ear. When he promised to be loyal, he fell flat on his faith. When he tried to advise Jesus, he was a devil’s advocate. Eventually, though, Peter’s faith and boldness and loyalty and wisdom enabled him to become a leader of the church. But he got worse before he got better. Notice that this did not surprise or discourage Jesus. In fact, Jesus was so patient with his disciples that we might think of the J-curve as the Jesus-curve. He will never stop helping a follower of his who is sincerely seeking to grow. Jesus will always lead us toward growth, and growth always requires risk, and risk always means failure. So Jesus is always leading us into failure. But he never gives up on a student just because he or she fails. …Go ahead and stumble. Failure isn’t falling down; failure is refusing to try. We ought to celebrate failure. We are living on the J-curve.” John Ortberg

“My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart….”
Psalm 73:26

Moving From the Head to the Heart

Even the J-curve is misleading. There’s no steady uphill line. Think about the zig-zag that would represent Peter’s life!

  • Are you afraid of risking? of failing?
  • Can you be as patient with yourself as Jesus is?
  • Are you determined to keep getting back up when you fail?

Abba, use my failures to make me wiser, strong, better.


For More: The Me I Want to Be by John Ortberg



These “Daily Riches” are for your encouragement as you seek after God and he seeks after you. I hope you’ll follow my blog, and share it. My goal is to share something of unique value with you daily in 400 words or less. I appreciate your interest!  –  Bill (Psalm 90:14)

“I practice daily what I believe; everything else is religious talk.”

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