Finding Success Through Failure

failure

John F. Kennedy said, “Success has many fathers, but failure is an orphan; no one wants to claim it.”

Kennedy’s words hit home. Our nature is such that we hate to fail. And, if we DO fail, we don’t even want to talk about it. It’s embarrassing, demeaning, and discouraging.

Yet, as much as we’d like to avoid failure, it happens. We encounter it in a variety of ways—when losing a contest; falling short of reaching a goal; making a mistake; not keeping a promise; neglecting a warning, and so on.

Failures like these can have a negative affect on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. It can cast clouds of doubt over our self-confidence and keep us down. It is, therefore, difficult to imagine that as much as failure can put us in deep, dark funk, there’s a silver lining in it, too.

It all depends on how we view failure. If we fear it, then it will get the best of us. If we think of each failure as a stepping stone to success, then we’ll likely overcome it.

Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958)—American inventor, engineer, businessman, and the holder of 186 patents—said, “We have come to fear failure too much. Failure is the practice essential for success.” He’s also quoted, “The only time you must not fail is the last time you try.”

No doubt, other successful inventors and business persons would agree with Kettering. One of them, Thomas Edison, failed many times. And yet he made 1,100 inventions. It’s said that when he worked on the idea of making artificial light, he couldn’t find a filament that would give good light when electricity flowed through it. He spent two years experimenting with thousands of materials including everything from blades of grass to wire made from platinum. Finally, he used carbonized thread, which is cotton sewing thread burned to ash. On October 21, 1879, he succeeded. (selected)

It is written that failure is not the opposite of success, it is part of success. Though we’re inclined to try to avoid failure, we can learn from it whenever we experience it. Thus, we take each experience to move closer to success. We might have to go through much defeat in the process before achieving success.

Consider Abraham Lincoln:

Failed in business ...................................age 22;
Ran for legislature ..................................    23;
Again failed in business .............................    24;
Elected to Legislature ...............................    25;
Sweetheart died ......................................    26;
Had a nervous breakdown ..............................    27;
Defeated for Speaker .................................    29;
Defeated for Elector .................................    31;
Defeated for Congress ................................    34;
Elected to Congress ..................................    37;
Defeated for Congress ................................    39;
Defeated for Senate ..................................    46;
Defeated for Vice President ..........................    47;
Defeated for Senate ..................................    49;
Elected President of the United States ...............    51;

Great people fail but they also succeed when it’s all said and done. That’s what makes them great. And this includes persons of faith. (selected)

The Apostle Paul failed. He said,

I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. (Romans 7:15-20, New American Standard Bible, NASB).

Paul admitted he wasn’t perfect due to his sinful nature. And so he failed to do what he knew he should do even though he desired to do good. But by coming to grips with his failings, years later he was able to declare his success:

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8, NASB).

Paul wasn’t the only person who failed yet became successful. There were many other persons of faith who failed. Peter failed, yet he was a great leader of the early church. The same with all the other apostles.

In the Old Testament, David, Israel’s greatest king, “a man after God’s own heart,” (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22) failed (2 Sam. 11). Moses, giant among the Israelites, giver of the Law, deliverer of the people, failed (Numbers 20:12; Deuteronomy 3:23-29; Psalm 106:32-33). Jacob, father of the nation of Israel, failed; Isaac, son of promise, failed (Gen. 25:29-34). Isaac, son of promise, failed (Gen. 26:6-7). Abraham, progenitor of Israel, father of the faithful, prototype of those who are righteous through faith, failed (Gen. 20:1-3). And, as we’re well aware, even our first parents, in their human perfection, failed (Gen. 3). So, who hasn’t failed? (Rom. 3:23)

Thankfully, by God’s grace, we can find success through our failures. On account of God’s marvelous grace, we can gain more knowledge and wisdom with every failure because of the hope we have in Jesus Christ, his Son, (Ephesians 2:8-10). And if we trust God through Christ who gives us the power to overcome our circumstances, we shall move forward with success.

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

P.S. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” Included in the “all things” are the failures we go through in order for God to work them out for our own good, that we might grow in our faith and overcome our faults. Here’s “Your Love Never Fails,” featuring Chris Quilala and Jesus Culture: http://youtu.be/IoezWBPGRAc

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