In Part 1, I was talking about this business of How do you make a fresh start in life? I think many people do and would love the opportunity to start again. Not just at the beginning of a year but any time. To say, I would like to start a new life. There’s a bit of a formula and it’s the word START—‘S’ (as we saw in Part 1) is for Stop Making Excuses.
It is hard to get people to admit when they are wrong. People do not like to admit, I made a mistake, and I blew it. God says that if we admit the mistake, if we admit our failures, and if we admit our sin, then we get another chance in life. The number one reason we fail in life is we don’t prepare ourselves for the problems that we will face in life.
The Bible says in Proverbs 27:12 (TLB): “A sensible man watches for problems and prepares to meet them but the fool never looks ahead and suffers the consequences.” There’s a lot of common sense in that verse. Was it raining when Noah started building the ark? No. He had to prepare for the coming flood. In fact the rain didn’t come for 120 years. But that’s how long it took him to get the thing built.
Because we don’t listen to others—we don’t listen to good advice when it’s offered. The Bible says in Proverbs 15:22 (NIRV), “Plans fail without good advice.” You need to get all the advice you can. Get good advice from people you know you can trust.
Why is that so many won’t listen to the advice of other people? Because they think they don’t need it. It’s called pride. Ego. Ego stands for ‘Edging God Out’. When a person thinks they know more than God, they push him out of their life, they’re on an ego trip and that trip leads to a dead-end. No wonder the Bible says, “Pride always leads to destruction.” An arrogant attitude leads to a fall. When I think I know it all and I can figure it all out myself, I’m setting myself up for failure—if I don’t listen to the advice of others, if I think I’ll just do it my way. I’ll never get anywhere if I have already arrived. We fail to prepare and we fail to listen to other people and we fail as a result.
Isn’t it true that we give up too soon? Proverbs 24:10 says: “If you give up when troubles come, it just shows that you are weak.” Failure is the path of least resistance. The problem is that often during trying times we stop trying. We give up. If at first you don’t succeed, welcome to the human race! If at first you don’t succeed, you’re normal. Very few people make it on the first try. Oftentimes, we give up just when success is around the corner. You’re never a failure until you give up. Sometimes we give up too soon.
It’s always too soon to quit. The Bible says we need to stop making excuses, admit when it’s our fault and get on with life. I’ve discovered that people who are very good at making excuses are rarely good at anything else. They spend all their energy thinking up reasons why they can’t do what they’re supposed to do.
T – Take an inventory of your life
I need to take an inventory of my life. That means I need to evaluate all my experiences. I need to look at what I have left after the failure. I need to take an inventory of my life’s experiences and learn from them. Galatians 3:4 (ERV) says: “You have experienced many things. Were all those experiences wasted? I hope they were not wasted!”
The Living Bible translates the same verse as, “ You have suffered so much for the gospel. Now are you going to throw it all over board? I can hardly believe it!
Learn from your mistakes. Failure can be your friend or your foe. You determine if failure will be your friend or foe by the way you react to it. You can choose to learn from it or choose to repeat it. If you learn from it then it can be your friend. However, if you don’t learn from it is your foe.
I have seen there are four kinds of experiences that God uses to shape our lives:
- Personal experiences: The family that you grew up in, the people you relate to. God can use your personal experience with your husband or your wife. He uses personal experiences to shape you.
- Vocational and educational experiences: God uses these to shape you.
- Spiritual experiences: Like coming to church, going on a retreat or reading your Bible, having a quiet time.
- Painful experiences: God uses them also to shape you.
As you take inventory of your life in starting over, you need to ask, What have I learned?
I know people 40-, 50-years-old but they don’t have 40 or 50 years of experience. They’ve had the same experience over and over again. In other words, they haven’t learned anything. What have you learned from past experiences? If you don’t, the more time you spend thinking, I wish that hadn’t happened! I wish I could change that. If only I could go back, reverse the clock and redo history. You’re rehearsing and regretting, you’ll not only make yourself miserable right now, you’re setting yourself up for more of the same thing in the future. The way you set yourself up for more failure is by focusing on past failures. Whatever you focus on, you tend to reproduce in your life.
It’s very helpful to try and learn from those failures. Of course, you heard it said before that real success is built on failure. Failure is the way you can actually become a success.
(To be continued in How to Make a Fresh Start – Part 3)