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Why Failure is Good: Two Perspectives

Clergy, often called to shepherd people through periods of failure, are frequently resistant to admitting their own failures, says pastor J.R. Briggs, and clergy who experience failure are loathe to put themselves in positions where they might fail again. However, the result of failure is vulnerability, a prerequisite for growth. Recognizing that dilemma, Briggs, pastor of The Renew Community in Pennsylvania, created the Epic Fail Pastors Conference as an opportunity for clergy to gather and safely discuss their experiences in and feelings about failing in ministry. Read his reflections on the Faith & Leadership website of Duke Divinity school. In a related Faith & Leadership article, Duke University engineering professor Henry Petroski says that all you can do with success is emulate it, which does not lead to new information or improvements. But failure raises the helpful question, “what are we missing?” Read Petroski’s explanation of why he tries to teach his students to value their failures.

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