One of the things I love most about the Bible is the consistent reminder that people fail. I guess that could appear a little depressing at first to some but for me I find great encouragement in it because it feels like something that I do way too often. Even in the very first human beings introduced in Genesis, Adam and Eve, we see failure.
One of the reasons people don’t view failure from a positive perspective is because there are certain things we attach to failure. This could be a much longer list, but some of the reasons why a discussion of failure is so difficult to address is because of the things that can come along with it. Things like:
- Embarrassment: We don’t want others to know so we hide. Adam and Eve hid from God.
- Disappointment: We are disappointed in ourselves and feel like we have disappointed others.
- Identity: We don’t want it to become our identity. Too often people are associated more with their failures that with their successes. We even create labels for them.
- Recovery: We don’t like the process to recover from failure or we don’t want to deal with the changed expectations of people so we pretend nothing happened or worse yet, we hide it.
- Pain of others: Our failures are rarely isolated. Almost always other people carry some of the burden along with you.
- Long term effects: Some things we never seem to escape. People bring them up until the day we die. We are still dealing with the effects of Adam and Eve’s failure.
There is no question that some of these things are associated with failure. We may experience some or all of these during moments of our life when things do not turn out exactly as we had planned. If we become trapped by the negative side of failure we will rarely overcome or move forward. These things often trap us and hold us back from experiencing some of the benefits of failure. What would it look like if you changed the lens with which you looked at your failures? What if you learned to allow it to catapult you forward instead of holding you back. Try using these filters the next time you view failure.
It’s An Opportunity To Learn And Grow
A wise man told me when I was a young man that I could learn something from everyone I met. I could learn how to do something or I could learn how not to do something. There was no excuse for not learning. This is very true of our failures. They are great opportunities to learn how to do things or how not to do things, but they are definitely opportunities for us to learn and grow. Thomas Edison’s thousands of failed attempts at creating the light bulb is perhaps one of the most famous stories of using failure to learn. After each failure he learned something and eventually achieved success that changed the modern world. Experience is not the best teacher. Experience where you learn and grow is the best teacher.
There is Redemption
As much as you think people want you to fail or enjoy your failure, there are more people who want you to succeed and are excited when you achieve success. Unfortunately, we spend too much energy focusing on the few who want or enjoy our failure while missing the mass of people who genuinely want what is best for us and want to see our success. Stories of redemption and comebacks draw thousands into stories, books, movies and conversations. Why? Because people want to be encouraged by redemption and we all want hope that our situation is not the end. Let your story be one of redemption. There is always a chance to get up and start again; to redeem the situation or your reputation. You will find that even some of the people you thought wanted your demise will find hope from your situation.
We Get A Chance To Evaluate and Improve It
Too often people begin to take things for granted or the routine of their situation becomes mundane. They are surviving so there is no reason to change. Most things can be improved, but we usually choose not to because it requires us to change and we prefer the status quo. We live by the mantra “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Improvement requires work. So we continue down a path believing we can survive even if we are not thriving. In those moments of crisis and failure, people tend to be willing to try things they would not have tried before. Marriages in trouble find spouses who are willing to get counseling. Athletes not getting playing time find renewed focus on the practice field. Children suffering consequences because of poor grades suddenly become studious. Those moments of failure have the power to push us to evaluate and improve our situation and our effort.
There is no reason for failure to be final. It should not be a weight that we cannot overcome. It is an opportunity to grow, find redemption and improve the things we failed to do earlier. Don’t allow failure to cripple you. Failure is a lot like a bouncing ball. How far it falls should determine how high it bounces. Determine to bounce high. Romans 5:3-5 NLT tells us 3 We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.