Steve Bremner

Author, Podcaster & Writing Coach

Failing SuccessfullyThis post is a 3 min read

Failing Successfully

The last time I was in Canada I had lunch with a pastor friend close to my age. He wanted to discuss how we’re doing the whole missional thing down here in Peru. He also reads a lot of the same books by people I’m into. There were many things we talked about that day, but one thing in particular he said has bounced around the sometimes concrete walls of my cranium … failing successfully.

Let me get to what he meant by that.

Without going in to too much detail, he was pastoring a church that has a decent and respectable number of people in regular attendance. He preaches often, and the seats are filled, and the church he pastors has a reasonable history behind it.


He described to me both his frustrations and his dreams and the vision for where he’d like to take this fellowship in the future. He was telling me that he could do the same thing as he was doing for another 5 years, keep preaching, and keep the church from diminishing in numbers, and heck maybe even grow numerically, and everybody around him may pat him on the back and other pastor friends may consider him to be successful.

But he wouldn’t feel that way.

I forget his exact words, but he felt he’d be rather empty and possibly missed his calling. It was this pivot point that was part of the reason we met to talk because he knew I was a few years down the road with our Oikos with what he hopes to transition his already-existing fellowship towards in the years to come.

There have been bumps along the way for both of us and ways we’ve not achieved goals we’ve set for ourselves.

I was in the middle of telling him what my goals and expectations were a few years ago, and how things have actually turned out and that’s when he politely interrupted me. Or maybe it was more like finishing my sentence for me by adding the words I was looking for.

He told me “but at least you have been failing successfully”.

I liked that.

Failing successfully.

It’s like that C.S. Lewis quote that if you aim for heaven, you’ll get earth thrown in but if you aim only for the earth, you’ll get neither.

If you go for it, the worst that can happen is that you can fail successfully and get the earth thrown in.

I may not have launched a multiplication movement where we’ve planted a number of small churches in our neighborhood like I had envisioned two years ago we would have accomplished by now. But I look around and see the various neighbors we’ve led to Christ who are still going strong after him, even if they attend other churches. At least we’ve made disciples.

I also keep hearing from people who read this blog or who have listened to the podcast, and go and do things I’ve been talking about. So the amount of influence maybe not be as direct as I aimed for, but at least ya’all are doing it.

I have things I’m unsatisfied about, but at least in my failures there are successes to be excited about.

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About Steve Bremner

Steve the coffee drinker is a Canadian missionary to Peru, who after raising up disciples to flow in the power of the Holy Spirit within a missional community named Oikos for many years, now helps people bring their own ideas and messages to life through books and audio productions. If you like Steve's blog, you'll also like his books and audiobooks. Note: this post may have contained affiliate links of which the author receives a small commission if you purchase something recommended in the post.