Feeling like a failure is something everyone has felt at one time or another. Men, women, and children struggle with failure. Failure can strike the young and old. Failure finds it’s way into every culture, background, and even financial status. Failures can be felt in every category of job, whether you’re a stay at home parent, in the medical field, a city worker, in media, a fast food employee, or an entrepreneur. Failure, much like sin, is not discriminatory.
We can easily feel the dreaded sense of failure when a family member makes a remark or has unmet expectations that contribute to our already inadequate feelings. The media can also add to our feelings of failure with photo shopped pictures in magazines or advertisements. We also measure ourself against our neighbors, friends, and even strangers.
Many times we put unnecessary pressure on ourselves that only serves to increase the sense of failure. This can happen when we find ourselves back at square one in our struggle with a sin area, a bad habit, or something that we think we should have dealt with by now, or when we succumb to new or familiar temptations.
Then there are times when we have done everything in our power as expected and correctly, yet for whatever reason, we were unsuccessful.
Before we can begin to see hope in our failures it’s important to know we are not alone. To fail is to be human. It is impossible for anyone this side of Heaven to be 100% successful in every area of their life.
Here are five keys to help you begin to see hope in failures:
1. Give yourself grace. Stop comparing your physical appearance, your parenting, your creativity, your education level, your bank statement, your career, your home, and your life, with others. Be determined to love your life. Be intentional in every moment. If there is an area where you need to honestly grow, then be willing to make necessary changes in a way that reflects grace to your heart and soul. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load. Galatians 6:4-5
2. If those around you are speaking negatively and adding to your sense of failure, you need to prayerfully consider confronting them on the issue and placing appropriate boundaries (see “There is Hope in Boundaries” for more info on this) Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29
3. If you are struggling with a temptation or something that is pulling you away from God, you must be determined to do the next right thing. Confess, repent, and put yourself in a position to be successful. Allow yourself to be accountable to someone who will speak life into you, as well as love in truth. Be bold and courageous and get to the root of whatever it is and deal with it. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
4. If you experience a failure when you have done everything as expected and correct to ensure success, the first thing you need to do is step back and evaluate the entire situation. Consider if this situation involves other people (and their choices). If so, recognize you are only responsible for YOU. Next ask yourself, what is the problem? Are there other solutions? We need to remind ourselves we are not perfect, and even though it may seem as if we have a fail proof plan, our limited (human) vision can’t see the ultimate end result, no matter how much planning and strategizing we have applied. Be determined and confident. Do not be afraid of them. Your God the Lord Himself, will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Deuteronomy 31:6
5. Faith. Faith is always easy to say, but not always easy to put into practice. Even so, it is essential that we cover the areas of failure in our life with prayer, so that our hearts can be encouraged to know and understand that God is so much bigger than any of our failures. Many times, our failures can lead to successes if we choose to see God’s hand in everything we do, because God’s ways are so much greater than our own. What we see on the outside may not be what’s really on the inside.
Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. Hebrews 11:6
So, Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
And last but not least, remember as C.S. Lewis once said, “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.”
There is hope in failure.