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Persevere- turning a "failure" into a success

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Items needed

  • pen with no ink
  • clock with no hands
  • glue
  • hymn book
  • small slip of paper
  • pad of post it notes


Keep items hidden until required.

The say: I've got some amazing inventions to show you. Look at this pen - can you see what's special about it? It never runs out, because it hasn't got any ink in it. Don't you think that's wonderful? Look at this next invention - a special clock. Can you see what's different about it? It never needs adjusting because it has no hands. Are you impressed? Now how about this next one - a "wonder" glue. If you get it on your fingers it will just pull off because it doesn't stick to anything very well.- Don't you think that's an amazing sort of glue?

Would you say these inventions are a success or a failure? A pen that doesn't write, a clock that doesn't tell the time, a glue that doesn't stick very well - they all seem like failures. They remind me of somebody in the bible. Somebody who was supposed to be a follower of Jesus but, when under pressure, denied even knowing Him.

Who was that? (Peter).  Yes, at that particular moment Peter seemed like a failure didn't he? Have you ever felt like that?

But I didn't finish my story about the inventions: There was once a research scientist called Dr. Spencer Silver. His job was to improve the adhesives used in the products sold by his company. One day he somehow managed to make a glue that didn't stick to anything very well - it was very easy easy to pull off, and he noticed that when peeled off it stayed quite sticky. To most people that might have seemed completely useless. However Dr. Silver felt sure that his unusual adhesive must have a use, but he couldn't think what. He spent next few years trying to get the other people in his company interested in his special adhesive, but nobody could think what it could be used for.

One of those people was a man called Art Fry. He was intrigued by Dr. Silver's glue, but like everyone else couldn't think of a good use for it. Art Fry sang in the choir at his church, and used to put bits of paper in his hymn book so that he could find the right page for the next hymn quickly. But sometimes those bits of paper fell out (demonstrate), and he lost his place. He thought: "If only I had some bookmarks that stuck like magnets to the pages without damaging them". Suddenly he remembered Dr. Silver's adhesive, and at that moment one of the most successful office products of the last 50 years was born. Does anybody know what it was?

The company was the 3M Company, and the product was "Post-It Notes" (show the pad). When 3M's made the first ones, people didn't seem too interested. But 3M sent free samples everywhere, and once people had tried them, they wanted more of them and orders came flooding in. The product was first sold in 1980, and ten years later "Post-Its" were named one of the top consumer products of the decade.

But it all started with something that seemed a complete failure, until one man with a hymn book saw that it could be used in a wonderful way. Again that reminds me of the Apostle Peter. People most likely thought of him as a failure when he denied Christ! And yet he became a wonderful and courageous leader. Sometimes people think "I'm no good - I'm just a failure - How could the Lord possibly use me?" But Heavenly Father can take even a "failure" and change them, and use them to achieve something wonderful. So if ever you feel as if you're a failure, remember Peter, and remember the story of the "Post-It" Notes.

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