Archive for October 22nd, 2021

The J-Curve


Written by John Ortberg, a contemporary pastor, speaker, and author.

If you have been hitting tennis backhands the wrong way, when someone teaches you the correct grip, proper form, and right footwork, when you begin to try to hit them the right way — you will actually hit them worse than when you were trying the wrong way! If you stick with it, however, eventually your backhand will be far better than before. But you have to accept that at first it will be worse.  When the disciple Peter first exercised enough faith to get out of the boat, he sank and looked worse than any of the other disciples. When he tried to defend Jesus, he cut off a man’s ear. When he promised to be loyal, he fell flat on his faith. When he tried to advise Jesus, he was a devil’s advocate. Eventually, though, Peter’s faith and boldness and loyalty and wisdom enabled him to become a leader of the church. But he got worse before he got better. Notice that this did not surprise or discourage Jesus. In fact, Jesus was so patient with his disciples that we might think of the J-curve as the Jesus-curve. He will never stop helping a follower of his who is sincerely seeking to grow.

Jesus will always lead us toward growth, and growth always requires risk, and risk always means failure. So Jesus is always leading us into failure. But he never gives up on a student just because he or she fails. If you haven’t been confronting when you should and you begin, you will do it badly at first. If you have rarely encouraged people, your initial attempts may be clumsy. If you have never shared your faith with someone, the first time you do it you may stumble all over yourself. Go ahead and stumble. Failure isn’t falling down; failure is refusing to try. We ought to celebrate failure. We are living on the J-curve.


Written by Steve Ybarrola is a contemporary seminary professor.

Lord, would you help us to focus on you when so many things are drawing our attention. Lord, would you help us to understand that in the midst of crisis, you are the Lord of crisis. Lord, would you help us to realize that you are the One who walks among us, comforting us as you did the humbled in your own context. Lord Jesus, we trust in your unfailing love to us, and believe that You care for us more than we care for ourselves. Guide us, lead us, and make us forever thankful that it is YOU, and not us, that leads us, guides us, and makes us thankful that we are your disciples. Amen.

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