If you’re anything like me, you love to win and you hate to lose. Whether it’s as simple as a board game or as complex as a board meeting, let’s admit it: winning is enjoyable. Losing, on the other hand can be, well… very uncomfortable.
But does success mean that we never fail?
I don’t think so. If that were the case, not many of us would ever learn how to walk, or ride a bike, or jet ski, or play piano, or speak in public, or start a new business, or do just about anything worthwhile.
It’s through the scrapes and the bruises and the bumps and the falls, that we find our strides.
There are certain lessons in our lives that we only learn through failing. Pressing through the pain has a strengthening effect on us. As Romans 5:4 states it, “Perseverance (through difficulties, trials, and failure at times) produces character” (parenthesis mine).
A New View of Failure
This hasn’t always been my view of failure. In fact, I would say that I’ve carried a lot of shame over the failures in my past. But my view of failure and success is changing.
This past year, my wife and I were privileged to be prayed for by a group of men and women from Covenant Fellowship Church out of the Philadelphia area. We knew none of the individuals who were praying for us, and they knew nothing about us. Yet, as they prayed for us, they communicated with such clarity and precision regarding our past and present circumstances that we felt as if they had known every detail of our lives. It was amazing, really.
In the midst of the time of prayer, one of the ladies spoke directly to the failures I had experienced in the past. She shared an impression of seeing me running on a track and trying to jump over hurdles (many of which I hit and fell to my knees). Reminding me of the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 3, she encouraged me to put the past behind me and press on toward the goal:
“12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way”
This Scripture has been so encouraging to me this year. I’m beginning to see that an aspect of maturity is the ability to learn from our past mistakes without dwelling on them. I’m working hard to keep my eyes in front of me and continue straining forward to what lies ahead.
I recently ran across a powerful quote from Winston Churchill who said, “Success is stumbling from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.”
What if working through failure is actually a necessary component to our success?
If you feel like a failure today, take heart! Your past and present mistakes could very well be the key to your future success. Don’t give up. Press through the difficulties. Your perseverance is producing the very character you need to succeed.
And most importantly, remember that Jesus Christ lived a perfect life for you.