Sermon quotes on mistakes

Samuel Beckett*

“My mistakes are my life.”

How It Is (*For Contrast)

Niels Bohr

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made in a very narrow field.

Jerry Bridges

Only the truly faithful friend cares enough about you or me to undertake the often thankless task of pointing out where we are wrong. None of us enjoys being confronted with our faults or sins or mistakes, so we often make it difficult for our friends to do so. As a result, most of us are more concerned about speaking agreeableness to each other than about speaking the truth. This is not loyalty. Loyalty speaks the truth in faithfulness, but it also speaks it in love. Loyalty says, “I care enough about you that I will not allow you to continue unchecked in your wrong action or sinful attitude that will ultimately be harmful to you” (Proverbs 27:6).

The Practice of Godliness, NavPress, 1996, p. 153.

G. K. Chesterton

There is something to be said for every error; but, whatever may be said for it, the most important thing to be said about it is that it is erroneous.

The Illustrated London News, April 25, 1931.

Jamie Dimon

We know mistakes were made.

CEO of JPMorgan Chase (referring to enormous bonuses paid to the company’s executives after the government bailout had kept them from bankruptcy)

Albert Einstein (Attributed)

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.

How to Think Like Einstein

Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Once you have missed the first buttonhole you’ll never manage to button up.

Erroll Hulse

Postmodernism (the thinking of our age) is fiercely antinomian (without law).  It is admitted that people make mistakes, but the word ‘sin’ is seldom mentioned and the idea that we all sin against God is avoided.  Right and wrong are judged according to human feelings.  The idea that God has an unchangeable holy moral law by which he will judge every person is unpopular.

Who Are the Puritans, Evangelical Press, p. 15.

Robert H. Jackson

I see no reason why I should be consciously wrong today because I was unconsciously wrong yesterday.

Supreme Court Justice, 1948.

William James

Our errors are surely not such awfully solemn things. In a world where we are so certain to incur them in spite of all our caution, a certain lightness of heart seems healthier than this excessive nervousness on their behalf.

The Will To Believe

James Joyce

“A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”


Rudyard Kipling

I never made a mistake in my life; at least, never one that I couldn’t explain away afterwards.

Henry Kissinger

Mistakes were quite possibly made by the administrations in which I served.

Responding to charges that he committed war crimes in his role in the United States’ actions in Vietnam, Cambodia, and South America in the 1970s.

Doug Larson (attributed)

To err is human; to admit it, superhuman.

Quotable Quotes

John C. Maxwell

A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them and strong enough to correct them.

The Power of Leadership


Mistakes were made in communicating to the public and customers about the ingredients in our French fries and hash browns.

Apologizing to vegetarians for failing to inform them that the “natural flavoring” in its potatoes contained beef byproducts)


It infuriates me to be wrong when I know I’m right.

Lord Molson

I will look at any additional evidence to confirm the opinion to which I have already come.

L.M. Montgomery

“Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?”

Anne of Green Gables

Mary Oliver

You want to cry aloud for your mistakes. But to tell the truth the world doesn’t need any more of that sound.

“The Poet With His Face in His Hands”, New and Selected Poems, vol. 2

George Orwell

We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.


William Orton*

What use could this company make of an electrical toy?

*President of the Western Union Telegraph Company, in 1876, rejecting an opportunity to purchase Alexander Graham Bell’s patent on the telephone

Detective Poirot (Agatha Christie)

“I should not like to be wrong,” said Poirot. “It is not—how do you say?—my métier.”

The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd

John Peel

I never make stupid mistakes. Only very, very clever ones.

Alexander Pope

A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying… that he is wiser today than he was yesterday.

Thoughts on Various Subjects, 1727.

Marcel Proust

Error, by force of contrast, enhances the triumph of Truth.

Swann’s Way

John Ruskin

Pride is at the bottom of all great mistakes.

Scott Sauls

To err isn’t human after all. To err is, cosmically speaking, an anomaly. That’s why we can’t bear the imperfection in ourselves and in others.

Jesus Outside the Lines: A Way Forward for Those Who Are Tired of Taking Sides, Tyndale, 2015, p.105.

Charles Schulz

Sometimes I lie awake at night and ask, “Where have I gone wrong?” Then a voice says, “This is going to take more than one night.”

Charlie Brown

William Shakespeare

A person that never climbs will never fall.

Eli Siegel

If a mistake is not a stepping stone, it is a mistake.

Red Skelton

All men make mistakes, but married men find out about them sooner.

J.R.R. Tolkien

“It is a comfort not to be mistaken at all points.”

The Two Towers

Kurt Vonnegut

“A step backward, after making a wrong turn, is a step in the right direction.”

Player Piano

Frank Lloyd Wright

The physician can bury his mistakes, but the architect can only advise his clients to plant vines.

New York Times Magazine, October 4, 1953.

N.T. Wright

The point of discourse is to learn with and from one another. I used to tell my students that at least 20 percent of what I was telling them was wrong, but I didn’t know which 20 percent it was: I make many mistakes in life, in relationships and in work, and I don’t expect to be free of them in my thinking.

Justification: God’s Plan & Paul’s Vision, IVP Press.

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