Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsWednesday 24 Nov 2021Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes
Failure is something that we all deal with. In fact, if I asked you to make a list of your top-ten fears, I’m pretty sure that the fear of failure would be someplace on that list.
None of us wants to be seen as a failure, none of us wants to experience failure, none of us wants failure to define our lives.
What are some areas of life where it’s possible to fail? We can fail at school, in a project at work; we can fail in a relationship or in our family responsibilities; we can sin and fail morally.
Some facts about failure
A. We all fail
J.M. Barrie, a British playwright, said back in May 1922, “We are all failures — at least the best of us are.” It makes sense, because we’ve all got something in common – we’ve all failed. I failed maths in my School Certificate exam back in 1966, and I still can’t add up properly. But that is a small matter compared to others who’ve experienced serious failures in their lives.
Think about relationships you’ve been in, or jobs you’ve had, or classes you’ve taken, or goals you’ve set out to achieve. I’m sure that all of us can identify at least one if not many examples of failure in our lives. In fact, you’re probably already thinking about one failure in your life that you found to be particularly devastating. It’s not easy – even the people we see as being super-successful face it.
Chuck Colson, now one of the leaders in the Christian Church went to jail as a result of Watergate. Bill Clinton has been highly successful in several ways, and has failed in several ways too. So, we all fail. That’s a fact. None of us is perfect.
B. Have you stopped to think that the more we attempt, the greater the chance of failure?
To enter into a marriage you risk failure. To apply for a job you risk failure. To raise children there could be failure. To step out and do something great for God, you risk failure. Anytime you step out in faith, you risk failure. Everything in life that’s worth doing involves some risk of failure. The person who never risks failure never attempts anything of value.
In his book Walking the Leadership Highway Without Becoming Roadkill, Jim Buchan says:
”The secret of life is not avoiding all failure, but in learning how to get up once you have made a mistake.”
C. Unfortunately, failure has a way of consuming us
Ever noticed that the things you’ve done wrong seem to have more power in your life than the things you’ve done right? You tend to dwell more on failures than successes. Regrets come to mind long after accomplishments are forgotten. In his book Forgive or Forget, psychologist Perry Buffington says something very interesting:
“Failures take on a life of their own because the brain remembers incomplete tasks or failures longer than any success or completed activity… When a project or a thought is completed, the brain places it in a special memory. The brain no longer gives the project priority… But failures have no closure. The brain continues to spin the memory, trying to come up with ways to fix the mess.”
The progression of this mindset can have a devastating effect. The longer you dwell on your failure, the more likely you are to move from saying, “That was a failure” to saying “I am a failure.” That’s a pretty major change. And it ripples through every area of your life. Your feelings of incompetence keep you from trying or achieving anything new; they damage your relationships and can lead to an unhealthy or even dysfunctional family, and they taint your perspective of who you are and what God can do through you.
You may have failed, but you are not a failure. As believers, we are called ambassadors of Christ, children of God, a royal priesthood. God sees each of us as being important and very dear to Him. In His eyes, we are anything but a failure. Even if you’re not a believer, Jesus loves you and cares so much for you that He died so you could live. You may have failed, and there may be consequences to your failure, but you yourself are not a failure.
Failure can consume you. But thankfully, that is not the way it has to be. Now, I know that for a number of people this is a major struggle. For some who have been in bondage to feelings of failure for a prolonged period of time, some counselling may be in order. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But for all of us, we need to realise that it is possible to move beyond failure. Failure does not have to be final.
(To be continued in You Are Not a Failure – Part 2)
Copyright © 2004 SunriseOnline.ca