Is character formed in the crucible of failure? Can we develop our ability to lead by considering how we fail?
These are two very important, yet related questions executives need to answer if they expect to build strong leaders over the long-haul.
The answer to the first question, is character formed in the crucible of failure, is a resounding yes!
Let’s look at two Biblical examples, Judas and Simon-Peter.
We don’t know a whole lot about Judas from the scripture except that he was one of Jesus’ disciples. He seemed to be pretty concerned with the way their finances were handled. And of course, he betrayed Jesus into the hands of the chief priests and elders for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26).
After Jesus was condemned to death Judas had second thoughts about betraying Jesus and attempted to return the money to the chief priests and elders. They refused. Judas realized he had sinned in betraying Jesus, and went out and hanged himself (Matthew 27).
After their Passover supper, Jesus and the disciples went out to the Mount of Olives. Jesus told them they would deny him that very night and would be scattered. Peter quickly said even if all the rest of these weak-kneed disciples fall away, I will not deny you! Peter went on to declare even if he had to die with Jesus he would never deny him. But Jesus said this very night Peter would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crows (Matthew 26).
The temple guards arrested Jesus and brought him at night to the religious leaders who conducted a mock trial and convicted Jesus of blasphemy (saying He was the Son of God) and sentenced him to death. While this was going on Peter was in the courtyard of the high priest, and a girl asked him if he was with Jesus and he said he was not. Another servant girl asked him again if he was with Jesus and Peter took an oath saying he was not with Jesus. Finally, bystanders accused him of being with Jesus, and Jesus swore a curse upon himself saying he was not. Three denials of Jesus, and then the rooster crowed. Peter realized what he had done and wept bitterly.
Judas vs. Simon-Peter
Judas and Simon Peter both failed Jesus miserably. In fact, their failures were pretty similar. Judas betrayed Jesus for money. Peter betrayed Jesus to save himself. But it’s their response to their failures that tells us about their character.
Judas was remorseful, but committed suicide rather than face Jesus and the disciples again.
Simon-Peter wept bitterly, repented of his failure, and was eventually restored to Jesus. He learned from his mistake and took responsibility for it. Peter went on to be a great leader in the Church.
Application for Us
I make mistakes. You make mistakes.
Some of my mistakes are little things; others rise to the level of failure. The key in developing as leaders is in how we respond when we fail. Do we quit, or do we take responsibility for our failure, learn from it, and become an even better leader than we were before?
Back to my second question, can we develop our ability to lead by considering how we fail? Again, I think the answer is if we respond like Peter we certainly can!
Join the Conversation
As always questions and comments are welcome. What do you think? Can you measure the character of a leader by how they respond to failure?
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Category: Personal Development | Character