Explore
Follow Us

Turning your defeat into triumph

People often ask me, “Did you start AIM with a big vision?” And I always answer, “No, I started it as an abject failure ready to give up on serving God.” In 1989, I’d just been fired from a ministry I helped start. Karen was pregnant with our fifth child (the other four were five year…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes

People often ask me, “Did you start AIM with a big vision?”

And I always answer, “No, I started it as an abject failure ready to give up on serving God.”

In 1989, I’d just been fired
from a ministry I helped start. Karen was pregnant with our fifth child
(the other four were five years old and under). We had no medical
insurance and no source of income. Nothing was going right and I really
just wanted to get a job and make a pot of money so that I could show
the world that I wasn’t a failure. Everything in my life was spelling
the word L-O-S-E-R. If God’s strength was perfected in my weakness,
then he had a lot to work with.

I could relate to David in the first phase of his career. David was having a heck of a time
running from Saul and just staying alive.
In the midst of his struggles and setbacks, feeling hunted and alone,
God begins to form a nation around him.
David is hiding in a cave and four hundred of those who later become his
mighty men come to him. I don’t know
about you, but I couldn’t imagine a more inauspicious time to bring the kingdom
of heaven to earth.

What’s more remarkable still is
the quality of the men God sends to David.
1 Samuel 22:2 describes them this way: “All those who were in distress
or in debt or discontent gathered around him, and he became their leader.”

Wow. What a bunch of losers – worried, in financial
trouble and disgruntled. There’s nothing
“mighty” about them at all. And out of a bunch of failures, God fashions a nation.

Too often we look at ourselves
and think, “I’m not nearly strong enough yet to be of any use to God.” And in so doing, we fail to understand that we’re trying to get around the method that our Lord uses. Check it out – he began his ministry by announcing that the meek would be his raw material and that his
strength is perfected in our weakness. If it seems counterintuitive, it is. Heaven knows his ways are not our ways.

It may not make sense, but if you’re
feeling inadequate today, then step right up – that is precisely what qualifies
you to follow in David’s footsteps. This
is the way God builds his kingdom. It’s
the narrow road of humility that Jesus traveled. Over and over in Scripture we see that “God
chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”* Who knows what amazing work God may be preparing to do through you if you allow him to work through your sense of failure. Now would be a good time to ask him what he has in store and to listen for his response.

*1 Corinthians 1:27

Comments (13)

  • seth, i needed this blog, today especially.

    “…no medical insurance and no source of income. Nothing was going right and I really just wanted to get a job and make a pot of money so that I could show the world that I wasn’t a failure.”

    these are my exact thoughts as I’m making the journey up to visit my folks next week. I’ve got nothing to prove to anyone that things are on the right track…just a pot of dreams I don’t quite know what to do with.

  • Better a pot of dreams than a pot of money! You’re gonna be a success, Amanda. Follow your heart and stay in accountability relationships with those who you trust and you’re gonna be great.

  • well CB-

    it looks God knew exactly what to say thru you here… i needed to hear it! its hard to realize that our weakness can be used to shame the strong! great post!!! c ya soon!

  • Just great. We really do need to be reminded of these kingdom paradoxes, and embrace the truth in them. Thanks for the reminder today – we needed this one too!

  • I googled Asleep in the Light lyrics the other day and thanks be to God was led to your blog page.
    I have read the other comments and agree, I really needed this today. I feel like such a failure and God why do you even bother,
    and through tears I write to you,
    thank you dear brother in the faith for being led of the Holy Spirit to pen this today – He has given you the tongue of a disciple and had used used you to sustain a weary one with a word.
    Now I need to go spend some time on my knees before the lover of my soul. Blessings.

  • Thanks Seth for this encouraging post. I have had such a mix of emotions since leaving Aim. I felt like such a failure with my self confidence trashed. I am slowing gaining it back but I have to tell you that I have felt that I was no use to the Kingdom, that I just didnt have what it took. I too,like Amanda, have a pot of dreams. Dreams that I can make a difference in the lives of orphans and widows. I am praying that the Lord will confirm that these dreams are his for my life and open doors. I’m praying and listening! Tks for sharing your journey!

  • This spoke straight to my heart. Man, how many times am I going to try and go about my day doing it my way, failing, feeling inadequate…it is the narrow road of humility that Jesus traveled. Thanks Seth!

  • As mentioned several times above, a much needed blog today. I was just meditating on 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 last night about His power being made perfect in our weakness. I know some of the things placed in my heart and it seems my inadequacy has no problem reminding me of the impossibilities. God reminded me the problem is that I’m looking to myself to find the answers instead of trusting Him. Praise God that we don’t have to be perfect or know all the answers for Him to use us!

  • You were fired?!?
    That is so inspiring.
    I am learning just how upside down God’s Kingdom truly is. The world tells me I need to pursue all this stuff, when all I need is to trust Him. They say I crazy and a gambler. Such statements and their sentiment are really affirmation and compliments. I’m reminded of a song that says, “All I once held dear, now I count as loss.”

  • Hi Seth,

    Your words are like water in a parched land, thank you. My husband and I have been through unbelievable financial, emotional and physical hardship over the past several years. My husband’s business partner conned us out of all his inheritance money. As a result we lost everything, our house, dignity, reputation. Our second child was born very ill and in ICU for 10 days (no medical insurance). But praise God she pulled through. We did not have an income and we were dependant on our church for basic groceries. Additionally, I was very ill at the time and my entire family blamed our dire circumstances on my husband, so there was no support there! My Dad passed away a couple of years ago and it’s taken me a long time to get over the loss.

    But God is faithful and He has come through for us in the most amazing ways. We are now slowly rebuilding our lives, but still feel deeply wounded and changed and often it’s hard to relate to others (especially when everyone around us seems to be blessed out of their socks). We are trusting that God will work ‘everything together for good’, but some days are still very painful and your words are such a blessing ‘thank you’.

  • Yip, I qualify for this too as God has given me a vision of a mission, but I feel soooooooo inadequate!!! I have no idea where to start, or even how to do what He has called me to do! But, I choose not to worry about these details, God will work it out and lead me…

    Thank you for all your articles Seth, it inspires me and I am so glad that there are others that go through the same stuff we go through! Praise God!

  • It’s a privilege, Sanet. Thanks for the encouragement. We’re all inadequate – that’s the point. When we’re weak, he is made strong.

Comments are closed.

Subscribe to Radical Living:

Receive updates on the latest posts as Seth Barnes covers many topics like spiritual formation, what if means to be a christian, how to pray, and more. Radical Living blog is all about a call to excellence in ministry, church, and leadership -as the hands and feet of Jesus.

Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.



© Adventures In Missions. All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | RSS Feed | Sitemap