As one who teaches and tutors math for a great portion of my week, I often find myself addressing the issue of making mistakes. Anyone who has been in a math class with me has probably heard me say a multitude of times, “It’s okay to make a mistake, as long as you learn from it.” If a student gets a paper back with a low grade and does not take the time to figure out what went wrong, nothing has been gained. But if the student takes the time to look back and see where the problems were encountered, those errors can be avoided in the future. This ability to learn from mistakes is applicable not only in math, but in all subject areas, as well as in our daily lives.
James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” In the field of education, testing should lead to steadfastness or mastery. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word steadfastness means “the quality of staying the same for a long time and not changing quickly or unexpectedly.” When a student has mastered a concept, it should be there long-term. We do a lot of classroom testing, benchmarking, and achievement testing to be sure that learning is complete, that mastery has been achieved… much like our Master who tests our faith in order to bring us to a place where we are “complete and lacking in nothing.” While students may be forced to go back to their textbooks, study guides, or notes from class to determine where they have gone wrong, we can be grateful for God’s Word, our marvelous instruction guide for how to live this life. His truths become our standard, and although we may not have achieved mastery or perfection, we can continue to strive toward the goal of reaching that standard. Yes, we will make mistakes, we will fall short, and we will not always get there even after multiple attempts. But we can continue to look back and measure our growth, seeing how much closer to the goal we are from where we have come.
Minds: If you are a parent, take a few minutes to recall lessons that have been learned in the life of your child because of mistakes that have been made. If you’re not a parent, think about it personally…. What have you learned that came through the process of re-examining mistakes along the way?
Hearts: Pray for your own walk, as well as for your child if you are a parent. Those lessons learned from mistakes can be so valuable. Pray that the lessons will not go unheeded, that the mistakes will not have been made without gain coming from them. Thank God for His continual grace in allowing you to learn from the mistakes you’ve made.