“ Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill.
Everyone knows about failure, because failure is a part of life.
But how we deal with failure is key.
Failure often brings up a lot of questions for us to process:
- What does failure mean to our life?
- What does failure mean to our relationship with God?
- What does failure mean to my usefulness?
- Does failure mean I’m finished?
- How can I overcome a foolish decision, a huge mistake or massive loss?
For some, failure turns into paralysis.
For others, failure becomes a dead end in the road.
But as long as we have breath, failure is somethings we can overcome and leave behind.
The Bible is full of stories of failure. Noah and drunkenness. Moses and murder. David and adultery. Peter and denial.
If you go into a bookstore you can find all sorts of books about becoming a success. But books about how to deal with failure are far and few between.
Some people try to avoid failing by doing nothing. Which is really another form of failure. Thomas Edison had a proper perspective of failure: “I have not failed! I just discovered 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
There are several reasons why we encounter failure:
Sometimes we fail in spite of our best efforts.
We really do try our best but come up short. (Think of the Buffalo Bills who made it to the Super Bowl four times in a row…and lost each time!)
Sometimes we fail because we’re unwilling to do what is needed to succeed.
This can come form laziness, choosing to be uninformed, of a lack of priorities
Sometimes we fail because we’ve drifted from God’s wisdom and direction
Failure often comes from disobedience and disregard for God’s order and truth.
Sometimes we keep failing after an initial failure.
We might call this the “snowball effect.”
We are so distraught about failing we pretty much lose perspective on life and pile up the failures.
In all of this, the big question we have to ask about failure is this: does God view my failures as the end of the road? If I mess up, does that mean God wants me to hang it up?
To these questions I would offer an emphatic NO.
In fact, our failures may be one of the most important aspects of our lives.
Psalm 119:71 says, ” It was good for me to be afflicted so that I could learn Your statutes.”
We need to (often) be reminded that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.
Consider Proverbs 24:16: “The righteous may fall seven times but still get up, but the wicked will stumble into trouble.”
So what does it take to bounce back from failure?
I’d boil it down to two words: humility and obedience.
Here’s a thought. Often times failure leaves us humiliated. But sometimes that humiliation is so strong and so intense because of an unhealthy presence of pride.
We think so highly of ourselves that we can’t deal with any type of failure.
To rebound from failure we must get real about our humanity.
And without the presence of humility, we will likely not choose obedience.
But to rebound from a failure is to make this proclamation: “This time, Jesus is doing the driving.”
So many of our failures simply boil down to this: we demanded doing things our way, ignoring God’s input on the matter.
So, the way to rebound from many of our failures is to admit that we’ve tried to do things by our own insight and own power rather than trust God and His Word.
I don’t know where I got this quote, but it’s a good one to ponder:
“There is a fundamental principle here. Sometimes God must engineer failure in us before He can bring about success with us. Our failures are often rungs on the ladder of growth—if we will learn from our mistakes rather than grovel in the dirt.”
Sometimes we think Jesus doesn’t have the time, space or energy for failures. And yet, when we observe His ministry as described in the Gospels, Jesus seems to be drawn toward failures!
Lepers. Tax Collectors. Prostitutes.
Wasn’t it our failure that motivated God to come and save us?
Wrapping up, when mature believers fail they:
- Acknowledge their failures and refuse to hide behind any lame duck excuses.
- Confess any sin to God when sin is involved is involved in the failure.
- Study or examine what happened so they can learn from the failure
- Receive God’s grace and forgiveness
- Put it behind them and move ahead (1 John 1:9; Phil. 3:13).
And here’s the last thought
Often times we will heal more quickly from our failure when we use our failure to help others
This is often the last thing we want to do, isn’t it?
Our pride says hide our failures, and uphold our victories!
But check out 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Maybe the quickest way to rebound from failure is to use to help someone else!
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23