For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.
– The Apostle, 2 Timothy 1:7
If we don’t learn from our experiences, we are sure to experience them again and again. And if they’re failures, that’s not good news!
Success and failure aren’t mutually exclusive.
It’s not either-or.
I was raised thinking that I was either a success OR a failure, but that’s a lie. They can exist in the same person, side-by-side. In the same relationships, in the same marriage, at work, in your ministry, in your spirit, and in life. It’s likely a team experiences both success and failure in season – even in a single game.
This isn’t just a possibility, it is a reality. But it isn’t just a reality, it is the reality. And what’s awesome news is that it’s not just reality… it’s actually healthy! How I recognize and handle my failures as they come is an often-overlooked key to more success!
Today, I hope for your sake that you experience both success & failure!
I tend to be a person who gets down on myself quickly, someone who can get defensive and insecure about my abilities. These are the lies that failure tells: You can’t, you never will, you won’t, you should not have even tried… It’s hopeless. If you hear that voice, it’s not the voice of truth. It’s not God’s voice. It’s not reality. Fight fire with fire. Fight the toxic doubt with life-giving truth of God’s voice. This is another reason why the Bible is so important to me. It secures me in my true identity. It gives me a grid to build my life upon. This idea is really plowing through me right now (in trying to create, to write, to fix up my house, and to lead).
Failure is an opportunity to learn.
As we grow in this pattern, then we begin to understand about success and failure. Success is pleasing God – not reaching ‘your number’ before retirement. Success is passing a heritage of godliness to your children, not just handing them a 6-figure inheritance. Having said that, failure needs to be redefined by the Book, too. Failure is not making a mistake. A failure is an opportunity to learn. Ever thought about this… scientists don’t fail, they experiment!
When it comes to failure, here are my goals (borrowed from Jon Acuff & others):
· If I’m going to fail, I’m going to ‘fail forward.’ If I fail doing something that matters, then it’s not a failure. If I set my goals high, I will not always reach them, but I will achieve more than if I hadn’t set them at all.
· If I’m going to fail, I’m not going to let that stop me. Failure is quitting, staying down, not getting back up.
· I should fear this: Succeeding at what doesn’t matter! The worst kind of failure is when I get good at something that has no real significance. It is when I am exalted at a position that has no bearing on eternity.
Let’s BOUNCE BACK
What failure in your life are you avoiding? Which defeat are you trying to distance yourself from? What loss are you just trying to forget? It’s likely you’ll repeat history if you don’t learn at least one simple lesson from it. I’ll readily admit that many times I don’t see the lesson that’s right in front of my face – so I need to hear someone else say it. Perhaps you need to ask a mentor, a pastor, a coach, a true friend.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s time to reach out to someone who you respect, someone who will shoot you straight, and just say (or text): “Hey, I’m struggling right now and feel like I’ve made of mess of _________. From your perspective, how can I improve?” Write down their answer: