Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.
By Chris WittsThursday 25 Nov 2021Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes
In Part 1, I opened up the topic of the fact that you’re not a failure. And I said that failure does not have to be final. Let me just explain a little bit further.
On the night Jesus was arrested, two of His disciples failed in major ways. Judas is the one who betrayed Jesus and handed Him over to people that would have Him killed. Later that night, Peter felt scared that if people knew that he was one of Jesus’ disciples they would arrest him, too. So he betrayed Jesus by denying that he even knew the man. Not just once, but three times. Two of Jesus’ closest friends, both of them betrayed Him. Both of them failed.
But that’s where the comparison ends. Judas and Peter responded to their failure in very different ways. Judas recognised his failure and went out and hung himself. He eliminated any possibility of moving beyond the failure and making things right. I have absolutely no doubt that Jesus would have been more than willing to forgive him, but Judas gave himself over to his failure. If he had stayed around, Jesus would have forgiven him.
Peter, on the other hand, experienced the forgiveness of Jesus and became the leader of the early Church. Judas allowed his failure to become final. Peter discovered that it didn’t have to be that way. And today, I know a lot of people named Peter. I can’t think of one person named Judas.
So if failure doesn’t have to be final, how do we move beyond it?
Moving beyond our failures
1. I think we need to take the big step of saying, “I have a problem”
History records the famous words “Houston, we have a problem” spoken by astronaut Jim Lovell in April 1970 when the Apollo 13 command module had to return to earth. These five words saved their lives. And this mission is known as NASA’s most successful failure.
If you’ve got a problem, the first thing you need to do is admit something’s wrong. Denial is not a helpful thing. There is no point in acting as if nothing is wrong when you know everything is wrong.
In Alcoholics Anonymous they recognise the problem of denial. They know that it prevents people from overcoming their failures and trials. So the first thing they insist people do is admit their problem. They get people to stand in front of others and introduce themselves by saying, “Hello. My name is ______, and I’m an alcoholic”.
The Bible says in Proverbs 28:13 that people who cover over their sins will not prosper. But if they confess and forsake them, they will receive mercy. I think it’s true to say that people fail in direct proportion to their willingness to accept excuses for their failure.
It was Benjamin Franklin who once said, “He who is good at making excuses is seldom good at anything else.”
If you’ve got a problem, don’t make excuses, don’t ignore it, and don’t try to pan it off on someone else. Admit your problem.
2. Identify the source of the problem
You need to identify where your failure began. Is it the result of misplaced priorities? Is it bad information? Can you pinpoint one mistake you made? Was it the result of something beyond your control? Or was it the result of sin? You need to identify the cause of the failure so you can learn from it and so you can correct it if at all possible.
“If you ruthlessly deal with your sins, the roots of many failures will vanish. The blessing of God will be released, which brings the only true and lasting success.” (Jim Buchan)
Rick Warren says there are five primary reasons for failure:
- When we don’t plan ahead.
As the old saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.” Proverbs 27:12 says, “A sensible man watches for problems ahead and prepares to meet them.” Remember, Noah had to start building the Ark long before it started raining!
- When we think we’ve “arrived.”
Remember the lesson of the whale: Just when you get to the top, and you start to blow – that’s when you get harpooned! Proverbs 16:18 (GNT) says, “Pride leads to destruction and arrogance leads to downfall.” In other words, the man who gets too big for his britches will be exposed in the end.
- When we are afraid to take necessary risks.
The fear of failure can cause failure. We worry about what others will think of us if we fail so we don’t even try. Fran Tarkenton says, “Fear sets you up to be a loser.” We fail to take advantage of golden opportunities. Proverbs 29:25 (TLB) says, “The fear of man is a dangerous trap.”
- When we give up too soon.
Many times, success is just around the corner. Remember, the game is often won in the final seconds. If at first you don’t succeed, you’re normal! Keep on keeping on! The value of a postage stamp is found in its ability to stick to one thing until it gets there. “A lazy fellow had trouble all through life” (Proverbs 15:19 – TLB).
- When we ignore God’s advice.
The Bible is our owner’s manual for life. It is filled with practical instructions and guidelines for work, home, finances, relationships, and health. When we fail to follow these, we’re asking for trouble. Proverbs 14:12 (WEB) reminds us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
3. Keep Failure in Perspective
When you’re flat on your face, a molehill really does look like a mountain. When you’re right in the middle of your failure, it seems like the biggest thing in the world. And what you need to do is get some perspective.
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