Have you ever made a mistake? Welcome to the human race. It just means youre alive. The Bible says in James 3:2, We all stumble in many ways. Were all living proof of this verse. But everybody wants to be a success nobody wants to be a failure.
Come to think of it, Ive never met anybody in life whos said, My goal in life is to fail. Everyone wants to succeed. As a society, this puts a lot of stress on us because failure is a part of life. Yet, many people will do anything lie, cheat, steal in order to succeed. Its that important. Failure in America is considered the unpardonable sin.
Failing isnt fatal
Because we value success so much, we tend to exaggerate the effects of failure. But
failure isnt the end of the world. You wont die from it. With failure you fail, you pick yourself up, and you go on
One of the best ways to bounce back from failure is to redefine it.
Failure is not failing to reach your dreams. Failure is not having a dream.
Failure is not setting a goal and missing it. Failure is not having a goal.
Failure is not falling down. Failure is refusing to get back up.
If at first you dont succeed, big deal! Its usually the second, third, or fourth time you actually get it right. You are never a failure until you give up. Remember, everybody fails.
Failure has benefits
Did you know that one of Gods primary tools in making you the kind of person he wants you to be is failure? He uses it in your life to mold you, shape you, and develop your character. While we rarely learn from our successes (because we typically attribute it to our sheer nature talent!), we can learn from our failures.
We usually think of failure as being a negative experience, but wise people learn from failure and use it to their advantage. They learn from it and grow from it. They use it as a stepping stone.
God often uses failure to educate us. Along the way we figure out what doesnt work and eventually when we figure out enough things that dont work, were going to figure out what does. Psalm 119:71 says, My troubles turned out all for the best. They forced me to learn from Gods textbook. Gods textbook is the Bible and it is often in the midst of failure that we open its pages searching for truth, instruction, comfort, support, and encouragement. God says, Sometimes I have to use failure to get you into this book so youll start looking and realize that its a textbook that I want to teach you.
When Kay and I first married, our first years together were pretty rough. While we were in love with each other and believed that God had put us together, we were total opposites and simply didnt get along. We couldnt communicate. We couldnt negotiate. Everything was wrong, and we were both miserable. If it hadnt been for the fact that we were both committed Christians who felt that divorce was not an option, we wouldnt have continued trying to save the marriage. But we said, Were going to make this marriage work if it kills us and it nearly did. For two-and-a-half years we struggled and failed. Finally, we swallowed our pride, found a Christian counselor, and got the help that turned our marriage around and set us on the right path. I look back now and think about some of the lessons I learned in those first years of our marriage. They were lessons that prepared me to pastor Saddleback Church today. I look back and thank God for the failures I experienced because they were learning experiences. God educated me through my failures.
Gods grace found in failure
God is not surprised when you fail. He knows its going to happen. In fact, he expects it.
And even when you do fail, God doesnt stop loving you. Thats called grace. Psalm 103:14 says, God knows what were made of. He remembers that we are dust. He knows the frailties of your humanity. He doesnt expect you to be perfect and more importantly, he doesnt stop loving you when you fail.
Often when youre in the middle of a failure, its difficult to see Gods hand in your life. As an adult, Marys greatest fear in life was being alone. She didnt feel that she could function as a whole woman unless she was married, so she designed her life to avoid this failure at all costs. Married to a successful airline executive and enjoying the American dream that included a five-bedroom home and three beautiful daughters, she felt she had it all and could not fail. What could possibly go wrong?
One day her best friend died after a 22-month battle with breast cancer. The next day, her husband packed his things and moved out of their home to be with someone else he said he loved. Mary was shattered. Devastated, she felt she had failed miserably. Even though she was surrounded by wise counsel and Christian friends at church, that time in her life became a blur. Filled with anger and feeling incapable of being a single parent, her failure even took away her desire to live and she contemplated suicide. Eventually, with Gods help and the support and love of her family and church, Mary was able to overcome her failures and begin her life again.
What Mary later realized was that long before any of this began, God had looked ahead and saw the wreck of failure on the road of her life. Knowing what she would face, he fastened her in with the seatbelt of his Word, protected her with a cushioned airbag of her family, daughters and his people, and provided her a window of escape through his love and grace.
Even today, Mary is amazed at how God has taken the most painful event of her life and brought good out of it. She has served as a valued staff minister at Saddleback Church, providing a Christ-centered place of comfort, encouragement and support for women who are struggling with the pains of rejection and failure.
Mary bounced back from failure because she was able to deal with it, receive forgiveness, learn from it, grow from it, and let it motivate her. She found Gods grace in her failure.
Bouncing back from failure may not be the easiest thing youll ever do in your life, but its something that God wants to help you accomplish. It doesnt matter what failure youve gone through or which one youre going through right now. Big or small, it hasnt changed Gods purpose for your life. Allow God to teach you, motivate, and grow you through your failure. He still has a plan for your life and a place for you in this world.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Adapted from Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for pastors and church leaders, available at Pastors.com.