Post Mortem of a Failure

Matthew 26:33-34 Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.”

At this point in Peter’s life, you think he would have waited before speaking so boldly. Previously, God revealed to him the truth that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the Anointed One. 

Matthew 16:15-16 “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus then tells Peter how blessed he is to have had this revelation given him. Then, Jesus begins to prepare them for what is soon to come.

Matthew 16:21 From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.”

Peter then takes Jesus and rebukes Him as if to say, “This is not the reason for your presence here. We want a king.”

But Peter was taken aback with what Jesus said next.

Matthew 16:23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.”

Even after this event, Peter did not see, nor wanted to see what was coming. Jesus was particular as to what was going to happen, leading up to Peter’s denial. 

Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”

You and I cannot imagine the activity that surrounded Jesus and His disciples in His day. The constant stream of people seeking His healing, His presence, His miracles, all became so much that Jesus often resorted to the garden of Gethsemane to rest and pray. 

With all that led up to Judas’ betrayal, Jesus arrested in the garden, and Peter’s subsequent denial, it wasn’t until after the fact that it hit Peter like a brick wall.

Matthew 26:74-75 Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew. And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.”

Peter’s denial and failure to follow was to be the fatal blow delivered by the hand of the devil to take down the disciple with the most influence. 

We are often too self-focused, selfish, and self-absorbed to see the bigger picture until after the failure. It is a slow and slippery descent into this myopic point of view. Once we give in to sin, it begins to close off the perspective we need to see clearly.

We teach a principle in our ministry that says,

“Small compromises lead to great disasters, or little sins lead to big sins.”

We begin to justify why our sin is not as bad as others. We compare and soothe our conscience that because God has not dealt with us, it must not be as bad as we think.

It is at this point; we must not mistake God’s longsuffering for His approval. 

It is not known to us at the time, but our adversary’s goal is not just to destroy us, but all those around us. Often, it is too late to see the damage our poor decisions will cost us. 

Post mortem, or ‘after death,’ is typically the examination of a corpse to determine the cause of death. Allow me to inject this thought.

Post mortem can apply to our failures.

Businesses use it to dissect a process, a program, or a decision that went awry. 

We often apply it to relationships, friendships, and acquaintances.

Post mortem can also be applied to the failures of others for us to glean and learn from their mistakes. 

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Heigl said, “The only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history.”

While that may be true in general, it does not have to be true for us. 

When we, who are born again children of God, take the lessons presented us in the scriptures, we can chart a course of action should we face the same situation or circumstance.

Applying the methodology of doing a post mortem on our failures and the failures of others becomes a way to avoid serious consequences when faced with similar choices.

We can apply answers to questions like:

What went wrong?

What was the root cause of this failure?

Was there something hidden at the time of the decision?

How could it have been done differently?

Were there smaller decisions that led up to the ultimate wrong decision?

Was there a time to seek counsel?

The analysis using the answers to these and many other questions can be helpful only if we remember to apply them. I learned a beneficial pneumonic device – PDCA

P – Plan

D – Do

C – Check

A – Adjust

This pneumonic can be applied in many areas of our life.

The PLAN can include the results of the post mortem.

The DO is the result of our learning and decisions to do differently.

CHECK comes sooner than later to ensure we are on the right course.

ADJUST is using smaller corrections to avoid a more massive failure.

I often desire to make what God gives me to be something practical, something every person can use. I hope that is true today.

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