Doing the wrong thing. Saying the wrong thing. Bad parenting decisions. Going ahead of God. Overspending. Mess ups of all kinds in various relationships. These have been some of my best mistakes.
You might think it was a typo. Clearly the words “mistake” and “best” don’t go together. After all, the best thing is to make NO mistakes, correct? Well, here’s how I define a “best mistake.” It’s one that I grow from.
Failure can be the very best opportunity for growth. Not just in the sense that you don’t do the same dumb thing again. But in that you realize how very much you need God. If I always did things right, always said the right thing, was a perfect parent, had restraint to wait, spent money wisely and never had a problem with a family member, friend or co-worker…well, there wouldn’t be much use for God. I’d be self-sufficient and capable all on my own.
It’s the ouch moments—where you mess up big or small—that God reminds us it’s not in our strength or ability but in HIS.
Peter is a perfect example of making some “best mistakes.” Let me remind you of a couple of imperfect Peter moments. Remember when Jesus was predicting his death and He was telling the disciples that He would be killed but on the third day raised to life? Peter’s focus was on the whole killing part. So he responded, “Never, Lord!…This shall never happen to you!” (Matthew 16:22).
His intentions sounded noble. He loved Jesus and seemed to be suggesting He would never allow such a thing to happen. But Jesus’ response lets us know there is more to it than Peter thought. “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:23).
Ouch! It was like a Holy Ghost slap to the face!
I used to think this was so harsh. But Peter’s mistake was failing to understand what Jesus had been trying to teach his disciples all along, that He was their path to salvation. Peter was still earthly minded, instead of heavenly minded. He had a lot to learn. That was all part of the growth experience.
Another less-than-perfect Peter moment was when Jesus called him to walk on the water. He definitely gets a bad rap for taking his eyes off Jesus and starting to sink. But we understand where he needed growth when Jesus said, “You of little faith…why did you doubt?” (Matthew 14:31). His faith needed perfecting and it was only in Peter’s failure that it could happen.
The same is true for us. Perhaps the times we have grown the most is when we have messed up the most. God doesn’t waste anything, including our mistakes. Sometimes they are the best things to happen.