Limiting Belief: I am a failure.
Empowering Truth: No, I am a child of God. My identity is found in who God made me to be, not in what I do.
You may fail, but you are not a failure. Failure is not an identity.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.(Psalm 139:14, ESV)
God does not make mistakes. And he created you. He knew exactly what he was doing.
There are times in life where things do not go as planned. Sometimes it happens more often than we would like. There comes a time when we will all fail. But the failure is not what is most important. What is most important is what we do with the failure and how we respond to it.
The people who are the most successful are the ones willing to fail the most. No one has achieved great things without stumbling a few times along the way. And those who achieved the most likely stumbled the most. What made the difference was they kept getting back up when others stayed down for the count.
Think about learning to ride a bike. Did you fall down? Part of learning to ride a bike is falling down. But you get back up again. Falling down is not failure. Failure is when you quit because you fell down.
“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”J.K. Rowling
We look at someone who has accomplished great things. We admire their accomplishments. But rarely do we realize what someone went through and endured to get where they are. There were likely twists, turns, and bumps along the way.
Know that God uses our failures for his good purposes. There would have been many who would have called the cross a failure. The world looked at Jesus’ crucifixion as a spectacular defeat. He had so much going for him but ended up suffering an agonizing death.
But if Jesus had not died, he would not have risen. It was through his death that death was defeated. It was this most spectacular failure that gave rise to the greatest victory of all.
Yes! God uses our failures! And some benefits of failure include:
Failure Teaches Us Humility
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”(Psalm 73:26, ESV)
Failure helps us to realize that we are not perfect. If we always succeed in everything we do, we become prideful. We begin to lack dependency upon God, thinking that we don’t need him.
Failure Builds Resiliency
For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.(Proverbs 24:16, ESV)
Failure develops perseverance! When we fall down and get up again, our confidence is strengthened. We realize it’s not that bad! We are willing to take a bigger risk because we got up once before. We know we can get up again.
Failure Instills Wisdom
Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.(Psalm 119:67, ESV)
There are two great teachers. There is wisdom, and there is consequence. We can learn from the failures of others, or we can learn from our failures. Wisdom is a much gentler teacher than consequence. Unfortunately, we learn too many lessons in life through the harshness of consequence.
It may not have been pleasant, but what are the lessons you learned when you stumbled? That is wisdom gained.
Failure Forms Us
You may think you are a failure. But I want to say in no uncertain terms that you are not a failure.
There are a few surefire ways to fail. You fail when you quit and give up. Another way to fail is to not ask for help. If you are frustrated and feel stuck in the muck, go to God. Ask him for his guidance and help. God also gives us other people to whom we can reach out. God does not intend us to go through this journey of life alone. And when we try to do it all on our own, it is a recipe for disaster.
Another way to fail is to take on the identity of a victim. You are not a victim. You are more than a conqueror. Not just a conqueror! More than a conqueror!
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”(Romans 8:37, ESV)
There are times when you do everything right, but things do not go as planned. Navy SEAL trainees are expected to have their uniforms perfect. But the drill instructors will inevitably find an infraction. And when the drill instructor finds the infraction, the Navy SEAL trainee will be ordered into the cold surf to get “good, cold, and wet.” After they get out of the water, they are told to roll around in the sand on the beach. Now that once near-perfect uniform is all wet and covered in sand. It is a process known as getting “sugar-cookied.” The trainee will spend the entire rest of the day in that cold, wet, and sand-filled uniform.
Sometimes no matter how well you prepare or how well you perform you still end up as a sugar cookie. It’s just the way life is sometimes.”Admiral Bill McRaven
What do you do when you get “sugar-cookied?” Do you complain? Do you take on the role of a victim? Do you blame everyone else?
Or do you use this moment to learn dependency on Christ, have resiliency instilled within you, and gain a heart of wisdom? “Sugar Cookies” are part of what makes a Navy SEAL a Navy SEAL. And it is your “failures” that shape you and make you a champion for Christ.