The word failure is full of negative connotations. It’s connected with so many other off-putting words – words like disappointment, inadequacy and inferiority. But, what if I told you that, when it comes to failure, you have been sold a bill of goods? That failure, when viewed from the right perspective, is actually a positive thing – a necessary element in all of your achievements? Would you believe it?
The truth is that failure is the primary building block of every success you’ve ever had. When you were learning to walk, you fell down countless times. Each time you got back up, you were sturdier. The first time you played baseball, you whiffed every ball, but, with practice, you began making contact. When you started driving, you didn’t whip right into your first parallel parking space, did you? You had to back up and try it again.
Life is a process of growing through the failures that shape your ability to succeed. The key is to have the right perspective. If you see failure as a dead end, it will destroy you. If you see it as a stepping-stone to greater things, it will be just that. As the famed American soccer player Kyle Rote, Jr. once said, “There is no doubt in my mind that there are many ways to be a winner, but there is really only one way to be a loser and that is to fail and not look beyond the failure.”
With every failure, you have a choice: you can either use it as an excuse to give up or you can let it grow you up. If you will choose to concentrate on growth, your failure can become a catalyst for moving you closer to the life God has in store. He will use the experience to get you ready for something greater in your future. To help you get there, take these four steps when failure strikes:
1.) Face the emotions associated with your failure. Don’t be surprised by the intense emotions that come along with a setback – and don’t ignore them. Acknowledge the feelings of fear, anger, blame or shame barraging you and make an effort to work through them. Get to the other side so you can focus on the future.
2.) Allow your failure to draw you closer to God. Failure doesn’t separate you from God. He is not disappointed in you and he’s not pointing an “I told you so” finger in your direction. Rather, God wants to use your failure to draw you deeper into his presence.
3.) Identify and learn from the source of your failure. If you don’t learn from your failure, you waste it. Your first step when you fail should be to identify the root of the problem. Once you figure out what caused the failure, glean whatever insight you can from that knowledge. What you learn can be an integral part of your growth.
4.) Find and obey God’s new plan for your life. When you give your failure to God, he will exchange it for a new plan. Rather than preventing you from reaching your potential, failure should be a building block to help you get there.
If you’ll consistently take these four steps, your failures will become the building blocks for the life you’re meant to have. One day, your story of perseverance may be the story that will inspire others to press through and build on failure in search of their own ultimate success.
Nelson Searcy is the lead pastor of The Journey Church in Boca Raton. The 3-year-old church meets at Boca Raton Community High School (I-95 and Glades Rd) each Sunday at 10:30 a.m. For more info., visit www.BocaJourney.com. He is the author of 11 books and served for 10 years as a pastor in New York City before moving to South Florida. Each person who visits The Journey Church this fall will receive a free copy of his latest book “Unshakable: Standing Strong When Things Go Wrong,” on which this article is based.