Nick’s Failure

I love the movie Meet the Robinsons for a lot of reasons, but this scene where Lewis fails and the whole family is cheering for him is such a great moment. He’s really embarrassed and upset, but everyone around him is celebrating an opportunity for growth.

One of the aunts says, “From failing, you learn; from success, not so much.” I’m not a hundred percent sold on the implications of that, but the gist of it is something I live by. One of the students I mentor has a huge fear of failure. More accurately, he’s terrified of people seeing him be less than perfect. He’s well aware of his shortcomings, but he goes out of his way to put on a perfect looking face for the majority of the world. Then he went and told me this, and I promised him I would still love him whenever he failed – emphasizing it was when over if.

When he failed last week, I told him I was going to call him out publicly for it. He trusted me enough to say that was fine. That’s actually because over the past several years and particularly few months, Nick has been incredibly brave and taken off his performative mask and let me see his weaknesses and struggles for the purposes of helping him grow. Nick is a good kid, and I’m so proud of him for wanting to grow closer to Jesus so that he can more fully embrace the true Nick who God created him to be instead of the star of the show Nick thinks the world wants him to be.

About four months ago, Nick reached out to me with a long message he was so nervous to write because he was afraid I was going to reject him or think he was bad. Instead, it started a beautiful conversation about his willingness to be wrong and to seek out advice to redirect him when necessary and the accountability he’d put in his life to lovingly call him out when he went off track. I was one of multiple voices he was consulting on the issue, and I affirmed for him along with others that he was doing the right thing in pursuing God and being held accountable to honoring God in all his decisions.

Nick is in a discipleship group with me and four other BFA alumni, and we had a scheduled call Monday to talk about the high invitation and high challenge Jesus gives us in following him. I was prepared to call out Nick in our discussion about how he’s not the star of the group when it comes to hearing God’s voice and having discernment and that made this group high challenge for him to show up and be willing to learn. However, three minutes into the call, we all messaged Nick, but he never joined. I happily told the other four kids that was a failure for Nick, and they thought I was joking about calling him out publicly. The next day he apologized saying that he’d gone camping and didn’t realize it was going to be an extra night before he got home when he’d first agreed to the time. That’s when I told Nick I was going to tell the whole world he failed but that also this isn’t exactly a real failure. Nick is a human being, just like me. We both double book ourselves occasionally, make mistakes, apologize, learn, and grow.

The most important element of this story isn’t that Nick failed to join the call on Monday, it’s that Nick asked to be part of a group of people held accountable to growing closer to Jesus. Not every kid I asked accepted the invitation, and significantly, Nick approached me to ask for how I could help him grow rather than me first offering it to him. He knew Jesus invited him to deeper relationship, so Nick sought out a community to surround himself with Jesus loving people who would encourage him on that journey. That’s a huge success.

Regardless of the successes and failures though, Nick, you are loved for simply being you.

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