While many of us may not always be able to identify with life successes, most of us can identify with failing. Even the heroes of faith experienced failure:
Moses ran away to hide in the wilderness for 40 years.
Simon Peter denied knowing Jesus, not once, but three times.
Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife.
David committed adultery and murder.
John Mark rejected Paul.
No one is immune from facing the failure test. Like all the previous tests, God uses failure to reveal truth…sometimes the ugly truth.
Failure causes us to see where our trust is truly placed. It reveals where I am depending on my own gifts, strengths and abilities, rather than in God’s power. The failure test gets us to the place where we realise that in order to succeed, we need God’s favor and His divine help.
“Failure is an inside job. So is success. If you want to achieve, you have to win the war in your thinking first.” John Maxwell, Failing Forward
Most often, when faced with failure, we will blow up and cover up. We cry, “It is not MY fault!” We blame God (Joshua 7:7), others (Gen 3:12-13) or circumstances (Neh 4:10). We find ourselves slipping into the enemy’s pitfalls when we do not respond correctly to the failure test.
What are the pitfalls of failure?
1) Failure may cause us to exaggerate (Josh 7:9).
2) Failure may cause us to quit (Acts 21:14).
3) Failure may cause us to never take risks again (I Sam 7:13).
4) Failure may cause us to discourage others from trying.
5) Failure may cause resentment towards those who succeed (Gen 30:1).
How does God use failure in our lives?
Viewing failure in a positive way is a challenge…even for the most optimistic! Yet, learning to handle failure, rejection and disappointment is a valuable life lesson.
I know, as parents, it is hard for us to see our children learn to deal with failure.
My son is your typical Canadian boy, born into a family of hockey players and fans. In fact, a hockey stick was the gift of choice given to him by one of his uncles the day after his birth. Before he could tie his shoes, my son learned to skate.
As soon as he met the age requirement, we enrolled him into our local house league. All of this went well, as there was no “real” competitive nature to house league hockey. Everyone made a team.
Then, the dreaded day came when he asked to try out for the competitive teams. As parents of any kid desiring to be part of a competitive sports team, my husband and I knew what that may entail…a hard lesson in dealing with disappointment. I wasn’t sure that I was ready to see my boy learn this lesson, but my husband and I agreed that we could not deter his desire to try.
To say that first year of competitive tryouts were painful would be an understatement! For 4 weeks,I watched my 9-year-old son give his best, and then wait anxiously by the computer late at night to see if he made the cut. He made the first round and we celebrated.
Then, he kept getting cut down and down until he eventually was cut from competitive all together. With each cut, the tears were a knife to my mother’s heart. We told our son how proud we were of him for trying, and we encouraged him to go out and play his best on the team he was placed.
The following hockey season rolled around and he wanted to try out for the competitive teams again. Although our parental hearts were still bleeding from the last go round, we again supported his desire. This time, he made it all the way through until the final night of eliminations, but once again, he did not make a competitive team.
Year three…he wanted to try again. I will admit my husband and I had much discussion over this one. Should we step in and say no, or should we allow him to try for the third time?
We decided the character lesson far outweighed the painful process.
This time, my son had no preconceived notions. He knew his job was to do one thing…go out and give his best. He wanted to make competitive, but he knew that if he didn’t, he would still play hockey. The process was once again gruelling. The outcome, however, was more favorable. He made the competitive team!
My hubby and I realized the important life lesson he had learned and is still learning…failure is only failure if you allow it to cause you to quit.
As I look back over 2011, I know I have allowed the fear of failure to cause me to pull my car off the freeway of life. I feel like 2011 was not my best year. Maybe you know what I mean?
Just recently, God gently reminded me that it’s not what is happening TO me that is important, but what is happening IN me.
Here are a few truths that will help us keep the right perspective when facing failure:
Failure, like success, is not a single event. It is a process. You do not fail a test because you took it and received an F. Maybe you failed the test because you did not understand the material or because you did not properly prepare in the days leading up to it.
Failure is not a person. There is a difference between saying, “I have failed” and “I am a failure.”
Failure is not avoidable. It is a part of life. There can be no achievements without failure.
Failure is never fruitless. God uses failure to prune back the deadwood on our vines, making room for new life and more fruit.
Failure does not have to produce fear. It doesn’t mean we won’t feel fear, but that we choose to push ahead in spite of it!
Failure causes us to see our need for God and exposes our need for mercy and grace. It exposes our sin nature and helps us maintain humility.
Failure is never fatal and it is never a reason to quit. Our “mess-ups” are never irrevocable. Zig Ziglar once said, “Failure is a detour, not a dead end street!”
What are the tips for dealing with failure?
Seek God for direction.
Seek out the root cause of the failure.
Seek out a new strategy.
See failure as a learning opportunity.
NEVER GIVE UP!
We may not always win the battle with our attitudes. We may not always act the right way, say the right thing or respond to people the right way. We may lose our jobs or businesses. We may fail in ministry and in our personal lives. Nevertheless, the truth is this: Believers have Jesus living in their hearts and JESUS never fails!