For some reason, in my insecurities as a parent when my kids were little, I felt a need to create wise-sounding sound bites to share with my offspring.  I am pretty certain at times, I sounded more like Yoda than a southern woman should, but I was doing the best I could at the time.  One of the many sound bites included a phrase that I often cited to my two children when they were disappointed on a math test, their performance in a sporting event, or even in interpersonal relationships: “mistakes make us smarter”.

Both of my kids are respectful and never mocked my sage sayings to my face, but I am confident that both of them have done so behind my back.  When they are asked about some of those wise sayings, both of them use a “voice” when they recite them.  I pray, in Jesus’ name, that I do not actually SOUND like that when I use those sayings, but that is how it has been seared into their memory banks.

Frustrated businessman in his office with his folder

Mistakes really do provide wisdom!

Mistakes DO make us smarter.  Oversites as parents.  Errors as kids.  Mistakes as believers in Christ.  Mistakes as human beings shape us and teach us to be wiser, more humble, and more like Jesus.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Winston S. Churchill

Wisdom is rarely acquired by information only.  Although someone can share facts that shape our thinking, oftentimes, it is experience that shapes our actions.  When we are toddlers, falling down helps us grow into stronger walkers.  When we are students, it is often the missed problems that help cement concepts into our brains.

Errors keep us humble

Mistakes also make us more humble.  It is a reminder that indeed, Jesus is the only perfect person who has walked the Earth, and our mistakes remind us of our dependence upon Him.   My mistakes as a driver make me a more safe motorist (unless there is a police officer behind me – that is when I make ridiculous mistakes in my nervousness).  

 “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3-5 ESV)

Mistakes make us more like Jesus.  He never made mistakes, but He kept His eyes on His Father in every area of HIs life.  Our mistakes are often messengers that remind us how much we need God.    Our mistakes often force us to look up and see from where our help comes.  When my kids were little, when they fell, they would often look to my husband to pick them up, draw them close, and dry their tears.  God does that to me when I look to Him after I have made a mistake (and believe me, I make A LOT of them); He draws me close and collects my tears.  

“Failure is the condiment that gives success its flavor.”

Truman Capote

Recently, for a paper she needed to write for a college class, our daughter wrote an entire essay on “mistakes make us smarter”.      She cited people in politics, faith, and history who embraced mistakes as fodder for growth and innovation.  It took everything in me not to point out how much she hated that phrase when she was the one who made the mistake.    But I am thankful that she chose to learn the saying as a child and apply it as an adult.

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”

Maya Angelou

I hope I have set an example for my kids as a person who loves Jesus and wants to be more like Him every day.  Also, I pray that they can learn from my mistakes and their own.  My hope is that someday when they have ids of their own, they might just share the wisdom of how mistakes make people smarter – not because it is so profound, but mostly, so their kids will mock them behind their backs as well.


Amberly Neese is a popular speaker/teacher, comedian, author, and all-around encourager dedicated to helping you become the joyful person you were created to be.

She helps people like you experience the freedom found in meaningful relationships with God and others. Her bible study, “The Belonging Project: Finding Your Tribe and Learning to Thrive” was released in May 2020 by Abingdon Press.

Amberly is a featured speaker for the Aspire Women’s Events and the main host and female comedian for Marriage Date Night, two popular Christian events that tour nationally.

She and her husband have two teenagers and live in Prescott, Arizona, where they enjoy the great outdoors, the Food Network, and all things Star Wars.

Author of “the Belonging Project: Finding Your Tribe and Learning to Thrive” (Abingdon Press, 2020)

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