In the Swedish town of Helsingborg, a novel museum has opened.
Called ‘The Museum of failure’, it is the brainchild of a Samuel West, and for an adult entry fee of 10 euro, visitors can inspect approximately 70 items which failed to find popular appeal.
Included among the exhibits is a plastic cycle which, though it would not rust, was too unstable to be of us.
Also there is a bottle of Heinz ‘Green sauce’, made with green tomatoes, launched in 2006, but withdrawn shortly afterwards. The same fate was suffered by ‘Coca-Cola Blak’, a coffee flavoured soft drink which was on the market for only two years.
Mrs May’s 2017 election manifesto must surely find a place in the museum in coming months!
Mr. West’s intention was not merely to provide a laugh at some foolish marketing ideas, but to point out that the failures caused the inventors to try again, and by refining their product to achieve ultimate success.
Didn’t Thomas Edison of light bulb fame try countless materials as a filament, before he succeeded with carbonised sewing thread. Failure need not be final; indeed it can be the springboard to success.
No one better illustrates that truth than America’s greatest President, Abraham Lincoln.
As a young man he went to the Black Hawk war as a captain, and returned as a private. After failing as a shopkeeper, he turned to law and politics. He was defeated in his first campaign for the Legislature, and defeated again in his first attempt to be nominated to Congress. He was unsuccessful in the Senatorial Election in 1854, and in his efforts to become Vice-President in 1856.
The year 1858 saw another defeat in a Senate election, but in 1861 he was in the White House as President of the United States. Lincoln saw no defeat as final.
The New Testament introduces us to a successful failure.
Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, fled when things got tough during a missionary journey with Paul (Acts 15; 38). Barnabas was prepared to give his young cousin a second chance, but Paul was not so forgiving. The result was a sharp division between the two old colleagues(Acts 15;39). But Barnabas was right, and Paul later admitted it. He described Mark as ‘helpful to me in my ministry’(2 Timothy 4; 11). After all, he was the man who gave us the vivid second gospel. What a blessed failure!