Propel Sophia   

Why I Celebrate My Failures

by Jessie Cruickshank


Sophia is the Greek word for Wisdom, and Propel Sophia seeks out the voices of truly wise women and asks them to share worked examples of how they express faith in daily life. Pull up a chair at Sophia’s table, won’t you? There’s plenty of space. Learn more here.


In my office on the wall next to my white board, I keep a list. It is not a list of accomplishments, or trophies, or honors I have earned.  It is a list of my greatest failures.

The list contains 3 failures. The first one is a moral failure and was completely my fault. The second is a work failure which affected many people. It was not entirely my fault but was the result of a decision where I should have known better. The third is my biggest failure as a leader and disciple-maker where, in my immaturity, I hurt someone I cared about very much.

My failures are reminders

Keeping the list posted where it is constantly in my peripheral vision might seem like a twisted way of self-shaming or rubbing salt in the wounds of my life, but it is not. For me, it serves as a consistent reminder of the realities of life, myself, and God.  

The list reminds me of my heart - that it is both sincere and capable of making bad choices. I am always in need of grace, not only for the things I know, but also the things I have no clue about. It reminds me that I am human, imperfect, and in need of a Savior. In reminding me about myself, the list also immediately reminds me of who God is and what he has done in my life.

Consequently, each item on the list reminds me of the faithfulness of God. He did not save me from any of these mistakes with a miraculous intervention. Instead, he took me by the hand and walked with me out of the place of failure. He did not leave me to deal with the consequences  of my choices by myself. He did not yell at me or harshly rebuke me in each of these moments. Instead, the loving God of the universe wrapped me in his arms and held me tight. God spoke truth and hope to me, refusing to let me go no matter how I reacted. I learned in each of these moments that God does not shame. Shame comes from the enemy, not from our perfect heavenly parent. God showed me who he really is in each of these moments, and the list reminds me of that.

The list also reminds me about life, that there are ups and downs. There are times where it all comes together and times when it all falls apart, and that is okay. The world keeps turning, each day ends, and the sun comes up every morning. In my times of great pain and grief it has been this promise – that time keeps moving – that has brought me great comfort. I don’t have to do anything. Time keeps marching on all by itself. For the days that I can’t wait to end, I hang onto the promise of a new day just to get through.

Memorials of hope

Therefore, the list also reminds me what I can survive. Sometimes I forget what I have been through. It can seem easier to ignore, forget, or just move beyond my failures because I have done the work of therapy and healing. But scripture compels us to build memorials (such as the Ebenezers in 1 Samuel 7:12) to tell the story of God in our life. The list of my greatest failures is that for me. 

If I were not to post the list and not create the memorial, then I would be likely to forget what God has done and the enemy could come in and use these moments to bring shame. But there is no shame in my scars. In fact, the life of Jesus and the testimony of Paul demonstrates that there is power in our scars. That they are not markings to cover up and hide as I try to pretend to be perfect. Rather, there are part of my testimony. They are part of my revelation of the goodness of God and they have the power to help others overcome the accuser (Revelation 12:11).

This is why I celebrate my failures. Celebrating a victory without acknowledging and celebrating the battle is disingenuous. It creates a shallow memorial. There is no overcoming without trial. To celebrate my failures is to celebrate what God has done and how far he has brought me. To hide my failures is to reject these important parts of my story. But to me, God is bigger and more worthy of praise. So I choose to praise him with my whole life, failures and all.


Jessie Cruickshank

Jessie Cruickshank is an ordained Foursquare pastor who serves nationally in education and leadership development. She is the co-creator of 5Qcollective, and lead driver of 100 Movements. When she is not preaching revivals she can be found relaxing with her family in Denver, CO.