I have failed so many times and in so many things – failed school exams, failed at relationships with family and friends, failed in the workplace, failed in managing money the right way. Each time I ask myself ‘why?’ I stay brutally honest with myself, and I strongly resist the push to blame other people for my failure.
There are many reasons for failure; the story of Paul and Apollos helps illustrate one cause of failure that is easy for us to overlook.
In the book of Acts Chapter 18, Paul had gone to the wealthy sea-port city of Corinth to preach. Corinth is between Athens and Sparta in Greece. Being a Greek city – many of the people loved a good public debate. Paul’s preaching won many converts but also led to strong public opposition that eventually made him leave Corinth.
When Paul left Corinth, Apollos arrived; Acts 18:24-28 (NLT) describes him as ‘an eloquent speaker’ and that when he arrived Corinth ‘he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God’s grace, had believed. He refuted the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate… he explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah.’
Where Paul failed at public debate, Apollos excelled. Paul was well educated, a passionate preacher willing to die for the gospel, but he was not eloquent; Apollos was well educated and eloquent. While Paul was the greater missionary, in this Greek city of Corinth, Apollos was more successful as he was better at public debates.
When I fail, am I able to honestly and humbly examine myself, and accept that I do not have the skills to succeed at that specific task? Am I able to accept that others are better at it, and I should step aside?Am I able to accept that I need capacity building or quite possibly that I will never be an eloquent Apollos?
May the Lord give us the discernment to be self-aware of our limitations, and the humility to accept that which we cannot change, Amen!