November 2; A Man Should Be Judged On The Totality Of His Career
365 Daily Bible Verse &
One-Minute Management Lessons For The Busy Faithful


Chapter Eleven: Failure; 2 November

So do not throw away your confidence;

it will be richly rewarded.

Hebrews 10:35

A Man Should Be Judged On The Totality Of His Career


The large American warship was a symbol of USA pride and might and force projection to distant lands. The ship was burning. It was destroyed. US Marines set her on fire.

It was hailed as a victory.

Captain William Bainbridge, at age 29, had been an unlucky ship’s captain. He was under orders to sail Philadelphia and blockade the harbor at Tripoli in North Africa on the Mediterranean Sea. The pride of the infant US Navy was to confront the Islamic pirates.

But her commander was not popular with the ship’s crew. His reputation for brutality did not help.

The belief that Bainbridge sailed under a dark star—that mishaps, defeats and ill fortune would inevitably follow him and any ship he commanded—seemed to be widely held among the enlisted men of the Navy. (Toll 2006) pp. 190

The scuttlebutt was well founded. Bainbridge surrendered his ship Retaliation to the French in 1798 and was forced to sail George Washington under Algerian colors in 1800. He would have no better luck or third-time charm.

…seamen were notoriously superstitious, and Bainbridge was dogged by the belief that he was terminally unlucky. To be lucky or unlucky was no small matter in the eyes of a sailor –all sought to sail with a lucky captain, and all would go to great lengths to avoid serving under an unlucky one. (Toll 2006) P. 189

And so the sailors served with trepidation and dread. Not much good can happen when the crew is expecting the worst Mission Failure can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.


A dependable man was positioned at the bow of the ship to take soundings; to measure the depth of water by dropping a weighted line. We can imagine this man doing his job responsibly—but he failed.

Philadelphia…all at once lurched, shuddered, and came to rest. Her bow was canted six feet out of the water and her deck was suddenly as fixed and motionless as a patch of dry ground.

The men on deck leaned over the side, they saw the green and greasy copper undersheathing of the hull resting on a reef just below the surface…Philadelphia had run hard aground…A full third of her length had been thrown on top of the shoal. Later charts would identify it as “Kaliuse Reef,” but the Philadelphia’s charts showed no such reef in that position…

For the third time in his short naval career, Bainbridge gave the fateful order to haul down the American colors and surrender his ship… (Toll 2006) pp 190f

Later, US Marines were dispatched “To the shores of Tripoli.” They were to deny the pirates, who were the terrorists of their day, use of the American warship.


The release of Bainbridge and some 300 American hostages was negotiated. The captain continued to serve faithfully and his luck would change.

Bainbridge is now remembered as a hero.


A few years later after the loss of Philadelphia Bainbridge was appointed to command a sister ship USS Constitution. He would sink the British frigate HMS Java during the War of 1812.

So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. Hebrews 10:35

The Christian may or may not be rewarded on this side of eternity but faith will be recognized on the other shore.



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