Jesus replied, “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for you.” Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times! (John 13:36-38)
As followers of Jesus, we are not excluded from experiencing failure. We will fall short, no matter how hard we try not to fail. However, sometimes we fall short more than we need to because we are inadvertently setting ourselves up for failure. We could be setting ourselves up to fail without realizing it, when:
1. We focus on the wrong thing.
Sometimes, we set ourselves up for failure because we focus on the wrong thing. Jesus was telling them, “Because I am leaving, I want you to love one another.” In fact, Jesus shared more words about loving one another than leaving. Simon Peter was focused on following Jesus. He declared, “Why can’t I go with you now? I will lay down my life for you.”
2. We have selective hearing.
Simon Peter had selective hearing. With many of us, we set up our failure because we have selective hearing. We hear what we want to hear. We have to listen completely if we want to avoid failure.
3. We are full of our own bravado.
Simon Peter was trying to distance himself from the other disciples by saying to Jesus, “I will lay down my life for you.” Did you notice that none of the other disciples were that committed, at least in their words? Simon Peter was full of himself; and many of us fail in the same way.
4. We make promises we aren’t prepared to keep.
Sometimes, our failures occur because we make promises we aren’t prepared to keep. We make those promises, but we haven’t done what it takes to keep those promises. When we first gave our life to Jesus, many of us did not realize that there are certain disciplines we must follow. These disciplines include: Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. If you want to keep a promise, you must do those things necessary to sustain that promise.
5. We refuse to believe the truth about ourselves.
A couple of chapters later (hours, quite frankly), Simon Peter fulfilled the words of Jesus and denied knowing his Savior. He wasn’t willing to believe the truth about himself, “in our flesh dwells no good thing.” If we refuse to take a good, hard look at ourselves, we will set ourselves up for failure.