Just Thinking: Failing Forward
September 10, 2015By

A newly established Polk County High School has adopted as part of their motto, “failing forward.”


Despite some objections, the principal of that school would not relent in his insistence --those words remain an integral part of his school’s mission statement.


“Failure, he says, is a part of the human experience and kids must realize that it is okay to fail without falling apart, becoming discouraged and giving up,” he said. “Thomas Edison created more than 1000 prototypes before successfully inventing an effective electric bulb, and Michael Jordan missed more than 9000 basketball shots in his life time.”


He wants people to know that failure need not be fatal. From the beginning of time, all humans have had missteps before achieving success. It is what we do and how we react to failure that measure and determine our progress as human beings.


Nobody is perfect all the time. The Apostle Paul says in the book of Romans, “when I would do good, evil is present with me.”


If one lives long enough, one day you or someone close to you is going to miss the mark. On that day you will need a dollop of mercy, a bit of understanding and a smidgen of forgiveness. Before that day arrives, be very careful how you spit out words; you will be surprised how often you have to eat them.


Just ask the Apostle Peter who assured Jesus, “though others may forsake you, I will never forsake you.


I thought about all of the above when I read some of the nasty, mean-spirited internet posts about Josh Duggar and his parents Jim Bob and Michelle.


They make easy prey- like the monkey in the Jamaican proverb- “the higher he climbs, the more he is exposed.”


People have mocked and ridiculed their “side hugs,” no kissing or holding hands before marriage, and no dates without a chaperone. The comments have been cruel and insensitive. We seem to relish in their discomfort and find joy in their despair.


I must warn you to be very careful because one day you may find yourself in the same valley. Children have a way of rudely jerking us down from our lofty clouds, and humbling our haughty opinions of ourselves.


Witnessing and acquiescing to the extinguishing of someone else’s candle will not make yours any brighter. Stop saying the apple does not fall from the tree, the chip does not land far from the block or like father like son. Notwithstanding, Paul the Apostle’s admonition was that the man who seeks office should ensure that his own household in order.


It is very easy to blame the parents. It is easy to declare that if Jim Bob had been more responsible that Josh would not have turned out so badly. I do not believe that. People can be bad all by themselves. Evil can seep into a human being by osmosis. A parent can do everything in their power to ensure he or she is setting a good example. They can create a positive atmosphere. They can surround their offspring with all the right circumstances and their kids can go all wrong.


It is not always the parent’s fault.


There are too many examples of bad children coming out of good households.


 So, “In those days people will no longer say, the parents have eaten sour grapes and children’s teeth are set on edge. Instead everyone will die for their own sin; whosoever eats sour grape—their own teeth will be set on edge.” -- Jer. 31:29-30


I believe Josh Duggar placed himself in this position all by himself. He has sown the wind and is now reaping the whirlwind. He is eating the bitter fruit of the corrupt tree that he has planted, and he alone should be held accountable for his sins.


His parents should not run and hide, be made to feel  guilty, or be held responsible for the misdeeds of a child.


They should not be judged guilty because of association.


If that were always the case, what would you say to Jesus who chose Judas and Peter to be his disciples?


Or would you stand and accuse God the Father like Adam did, “the woman that you gave me, she gave me of the fruit and I didst eat.”


It seems nothing has changed.

We are our natural father’s children.

We have the same genes.

We have the same gall and possess the same chutzpah.

We are good at evading responsibility, deflecting blame from ourselves, being unsympathetic, implacable and unmerciful.

We never seem to learn from the mistakes of others.

So many of us forget that everyone stands at one time or another in the need of a prayer.

On that day, how would you like those above you to respond?

For it is written, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”




V. Knowles is a husband,  father and prison minister with an interest in penning issues that serve to uplift mankind. He melds his love for Classic literature, The Bible and pop culture - as sordid as it may be - into highly relatable columns of truth, faith and justice. Hence the name: Just Thinking. If he's not buried in a book or penning his next column, you may find him pinned to his sectional watching a good old Country and Western flick.


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