Failblog: We All Fail
When I was a child, one of the shows we used to watch as a family was America’s funniest home videos. Bob Saget hosted the show which featured homemade videos that people would send in. Now this was back when videos were contained on these cassette tapes about “yay” big. And in fact, I went digging through my stuff yesterday thinking surely I still have a skate video that I can bring in as an example. And I know what you’re thinking. First, don’t call me Shirley. Second, what would you play it on? And filming these videos was accomplished with these massive recorders.
But people would send these videos in and the top three videos would receive a cash prize, the first place winner would receive $10,000, 2nd place would receive $3K and 3rd place would receive $2K. The videos were usually pets doing silly things, kids saying silly or cute things, and often times people having accidents. Most of the videos weren’t even that funny, but one out of ten or twenty would crack me up.
And often times I would find myself watching these videos and laughing at someone else’s misfortune. I had this conflicting feeling like that was funny, but I feel really bad about laughing at this person who just got hurt really bad. I feel like I probably shouldn’t be laughing at this. But my family members are laughing. Everyone in the studio audience is laughing, so I’m like apparently it’s okay to laugh at this.
Now, today, popular culture calls most of these misfortunes a fail. A really big fail is an epic fail. And the opposite, when someone does something extraordinary, it’s called a win.
Yesterday I found out that this show is actually still on. It is currently the longest running prime time entertainment program on ABC. And they have a website afv.com.
And America’s funniest home videos website has the videos on their home page labeled appropriately (LOL, adorbs, and of course, fail).
Our culture is all into this stuff. There’s even a website called failblog.org dedicated to the fail.
Failblog examples (IMAGES)
- Cow stuck
- Leteracy night
- Gym fail
- Titanic fail
- Inspiration/nailed it
- Text fail
- Headline epic fail
- Epic girlfriend win
- Paint job win?
We all fail. At some point, in some way, we have all experienced something like this. Whether it’s trying something on pinterest and it turns out nothing like it was supposed to, or failing to operate gym equipment properly, or misspelling something, misunderstanding something. Every one fails.
Failure is a part of the human experience because nobody is perfect; we all fail at some point
Failure can be debilitating, humiliating, and embarrassing. If you go to failblog.org or look up fail images online, I would be willing to bet that in at least half of the cases, the person featured in the fail probably didn’t put their own fail caption on there and post it up for the world to see and that if they happen to come across one of them they would be mortified. How many people are honestly saying, “I did something really lame or foolish. I know, I’ll post it online so everyone can laugh at my expense and make fun of me.”
That is, unless, they have a really good sense of humor and they don’t take themselves too seriously. But some people can laugh at themselves. Why? It requires a certain level humility for one to laugh at his own fails.
Humility is defined as the condition of being humble; a modest opinion or estimation of one’s own importance. Humility is a virtue, Biblically speaking. The ability to view ourselves as we should, as we are, is healthy. In fact, Paul says in Rom 12:3 Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment.
We shouldn’t think more highly of ourselves than we ought. We should have a right estimation of ourselves. There was this supervisor at my place of employment who would draw this illustration by putting his finger in a glass of water and say “this finger is you.” If you leave, watch what happens. That void is filled. In other words, “You’re replaceable.” It was his way of saying, “Don’t think you’re so important that if you leave the company will fall apart.”
Now, don’t misunderstand me here. I’m not trying to imply that you’re not important. Some people’s theology takes them to a place where any level of self esteem is sinful because we are filthy sinners; we’re the worst, we are no good and that is one unhealthy end of the spectrum.
The point is that everyone is important and everyone should have a healthy level of self esteem, but we should be careful not to view ourselves as more important than we actually are. Because too high a view of one’s own importance is at the other end of the unhealthy spectrum and that is pride.
Pride is defined as a high or inordinate opinion of one’s own dignity, importance, merit, or superiority. It is often pride that causes one to try to hide his fails. To ignore them or sweep them under the rug. It is pride that causes some people get angry when other people see them mess up. It is pride that motivates people to take ducklips selfies in their underwear in the bathroom mirror with their phones and post them online, which is what makes their fails so ironic and funny. I think I’m so awesome, pretty, sexy that I’m going to put this on the world wide web, but ironically there is something embarrassing in the background. So their very attempt at promoting their self-importance or awesomeness is thwarted by their lack of awesomeness. Or there are the ones that try to photoshop their photos so that they look skinnier and it ends up looking worse and totes obvi that they tried to do so.
A picture is worth a thousand words here, but every one that I came across would probably be inappropriate to put on the screen here, but I’m sure you have either seen them or can imagine.
The point here is that everyone fails. Everyone has messed up, done something foolish or lame and there are no exceptions.
Not everyone’s fails end up on failblog.org or epicfail.com but we have all experienced failure so that alone should cultivate in us a healthy level of self esteem, a proper view of our own importance or dignity. No one should think more highly of themselves than they ought because we are all prone to fail; no one is exempt.
A few lessons we can learn
LESSON ONE: We should be slow to make fun of or amplify or publicize other peoples’ fails. We are called to do to others what we would want others to do to us. Since people are generally prone to humiliation and embarrassment when they fail, it isn’t the loving thing to do to plaster their mistakes across a billboard. If they publicize their own fails, put them on facebook, or if they submit their own fail video to be aired on national television, they are probably okay with you laughing at them because you are laughing with them. You know that whole “I’m not laughing at you; I’m laughing with you.” That only works if they’re laughing, but often times they are not and we’re just laughing at them. And if they aren’t laughing; if they don’t think it’s funny, our attitude shouldn’t be, “I know how to laugh at myself because I’m humble. They’re too prideful and think too highly of themselves.” Suppose we are humble and have that strength. Paul says in Rom 15:1-2 1We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.
LESSON TWO: On the other hand, since we all fail, why hide it? We should be less fearful of others knowing of our fails. I struggle with this and I admire the people who can laugh it off, laugh at themselves, who aren’t so prideful that they try to hide their shortcomings, their failures, their epic fails. I believe that it is pride that prevents us from being open with our fails. Don’t misunderstand me; I am not saying that we should try to fail or be proud of our fails, but rather that we should be humble about them, not try to hide them for they are part of what makes us human; when we try to hide them we are in part attempting to make others think better of ourselves than we truly are. We want people to think more highly of us instead of seeing us for who we are.
LESSON THREE: When we fail, wallowing in sorrow or self-pity doesn’t help the situation. The best response to failure is to figure out how to move forward; to learn from our failures to avoid making the same mistake again.
(image – Winston Churchill)
Not all fails are created equal.
Now, there are fails that don’t really make a ripple in the pond (like the ones on failblog), and then there are those that make waves. Some fails don’t really even affect others; other fails have a major impact on others and even change the course of history forever. Over the next few weeks we will look at some fails on both ends of the spectrum – fails by people we know as heroes in the Bible.
Examples – this man and his Photoshop fail isn’t going to change the course of history…(IMAGE photoshop fail).
If this man fails, on the other hand, (Obama Image) there are implications that affect you and me, and there may be more than ripples in the pond. An epic fail on his part might make tidal waves.
Some fails have a greater significance and impact than others.
Some fails have eternal implications.
Most of the fails featured on failblog or America’s funniest videos aren’t immoral, unethical, and don’t affect our relationship with God, but other fails are and have a negative impact on our relationship with God. Immoral, unethical fails in disobedience to God the Bible calls sin.
The whole story of the Bible from Genesis to revelation is about God’s relationship with his chosen people, Israel. Israel was in covenant with God for 1500 years in which they were given a law to obey; as long as they obeyed the law, their relationship with God thrived and they were successful and prosperous as a people. In fact, it says in Lev 26:14-17 14 “‘But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, 15 and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant, 16 then I will do this to you: I will bring on you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and sap your strength. You will plant seed in vain, because your enemies will eat it. 17 I will set my face against you so that you will be defeated by your enemies; those who hate you will rule over you, and you will flee even when no one is pursuing you.
IF THEY FAILED…terror, disease, defeat, bondage.
As that covenant was coming to its end, Paul writes to explain its purpose, which was to amplify sin, to make it painfully obvious that everyone fails in this department, that no one could keep the law – that everyone fails to do right all the time. And that though that is bad news, there is also good news.
Romans 3 opens with Paul pointing out all of the special privileges that the Jews had being God’s special people, having the covenant sign of circumcision, being given the words of God. And then he goes on beginning in verse 9 to say
Romans 3:9ff 9 What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. 10 As it is written:
“There is no one righteous, not even one;
11 there is no one who understands;
there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one.”
13 “Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.”
“The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16 ruin and misery mark their ways,
17 and the way of peace they do not know.”
18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”
19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God.20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
We become painfully aware of our own moral fail.
21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
We fail in every area and some of those fails may not mean much at all – they may have very minimal consequences in the grand scheme of things; we could put pictures of some of those fails on failblog and laugh at ourselves.
On the other hand failure to walk in obedience to God is a big deal and it has serious consequences because God is a holy God and can’t dwell in the presence of sin, he cannot look upon it, BUT, the good news is that God did for us in Jesus what we could not do for ourselves. Jesus came and did NOT fail. Jesus was the only one who ever lived a perfect life, a fail-free life.
And God offered him as a sacrifice of atonement on our behalf to appease his own wrath against sin and through faith in him our sins are forgiven and God sees us as righteous. If we are in Christ, then when God looks at us he doesn’t say, “Fail” much less “Epic fail.” We are holy and blameless in his sight, declared righteous.
So while in a practical sense, we fail, epically at times, we never have to fear the worst, we never have to fear condemnation from God for his wrath has been satisfied.
Jesus for the win.