SUCCESS THROUGH FAILURE

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From Stumbling Blocks To Stepping Stones

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.
Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and
peace for those who have been trained by it.”

Hebrews 12:11

Remember falling and scraping your knee so seriously that you had to quit the race and get medical attention for the gaping wound? A little “doctoring” was usually required for the injury and for your broken heart as well. Perhaps you heard someone who was trying to buffet the pain say, “The more it stings, the better the medicine is working.” Our lives will always have its bitter medicine in the form of failures, but the more it stings, the better opportunity God will have to help us win the race.

Life is full of highs and lows. The highs of successes are easy to handle, but the lows of failures seem to stick around forever.

Remember falling and scraping your knee so seriously that you had to quit the race and get medical attention for the gaping wound? A little “doctoring” was usually required for the injury and for your broken heart as well. Perhaps you heard someone who was trying to buffet the pain say, “The more it stings, the better the medicine is working.” Our lives will always have its bitter medicine in the form of failures, but the more it stings, the better opportunity God will have to help us win the race.

It’s important to remember that God’s ways are not necessarily our ways. Unless you learn to see failure from God’s point of view, you may become discouraged and defeated. Often we learn valuable lessons from our failures and are strengthened by the challenge. God has a purpose for your life and desires for you to be successful in your personal relationship with him.

Through God’s grace, you have the ability to forget your failures and put your past behind you. You are free to walk forward in the light of Christ’s love!

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

2 Corinthians 1:3–4

 

What Is Failure? 

He was emphatic in his proclamation—unwavering in his commitment. “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” (Mark 14:31).

Bold words from a man who had just heard a painful prophecy from Jesus, piercing words that Peter tried his best to quickly dismiss. Jesus told Peter he would indeed deny him—not once, not twice, but three times that very night—before the rooster crowed twice.

Shortly after this conversation with Peter, Jesus’ arrest triggered a dark chain of events characterized by chaos, persecution, and betrayal. The disciples’ lives would be forever changed and Peter’s die-hard devotion would fail again and again … and still again.

“ ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.’ ”

(Mark 14:30)

  • Failure means not performing up to expectations, being unsuccessful, or defeated.
    • Unmet expectations lead to disappointment and sometimes to despair.
    • Disappointment with personal failure is one of the tools God uses to cultivate our spiritual growth.
  • Failure in Hebrew is parar, which means, “to break, destroy, foil or make useless.”

This word often applies to plans that fail because of outside opposition.

“Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.

(Proverbs 15:22)

 

The Two Types of Failure:

#1 Destructive failure reveals your limitations and weaknesses, highlights your shortcomings, and when not processed correctly, keeps you feeling inadequate and defective.

Example:  “When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty silver coins to the chief priests and the elders. ‘I have sinned,’ he said, ‘for I have betrayed innocent blood.’ ‘What is that to us?’ they replied. ‘That’s your responsibility.’ So Judas threw the money in the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.”  (Matthew 27:3–5)

#2  Productive failure reveals your limitations and weaknesses, highlights your erroneous thinking, and when processed correctly, leads you to better options and keeps you dependent on the Lord.  Unlike Judas, catastrophic failure would not be the end of Peter’s story. 

“Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: ‘Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.”

(Matthew 26:75)

What Does a Fear of Failure Produce?

  • Paralysis—

failing to take any action or make any decisions for fear of being wrong

  • Purposelessness

moving from one job or profession to another with no real sense of commitment or direction for fear of making a wrong decision

  • Perfectionism

doing only those things that can be done flawlessly, those that carry little or no risk of failure, for fear of criticism

  • Pride

refusing to engage in certain activities for fear of being less than the best and feeling inferior to someone else

  • Paranoia

distrusting the motives of those who ask you to do things for fear of being exposed as being less than adequate

  • Procrastination

putting off tackling an assignment or performing a task for fear of doing it poorly

 

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”

(1 John 4:18)

 

The Primary Cause of Failure

  • Preoccupied with the opinions of others? (John 12:43)
  • Refusing wise counsel? (Proverbs 15:22)
  • Ignoring the power of prayer? (James 4:2)
  • Depending on self-effort? (Galatians 3:3)
  • Expecting praise and personal recognition? (Luke 14:11)

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

(Proverbs 16:18)

Faulty Fear Thinking Checklist

  • Do you think you must avoid the hurt that results from having failed? (Hurt cannot be avoided in life. It gives opportunity for mental, emotional, and spiritual growth.)

 

  • Do you think it would be terrible if you made a wrong decision? (Every wrong decision can teach you something of value and can be a stepping stone to making right decisions.)

 

  • Do you think you must never make a mistake? (Mistakes are common to everyone.)

 

  • Do you think God will reject you or be angry with you if you fail? (God knows you will fail and is pleased with your fortitude and persistent acceptance of challenges that stretch your abilities and strengthen your reliance on Him.)

 

  • Do you think failure is an indication that you are stupid or weak? (Failure is universal, experienced by both the literate and the illiterate, the strong and the weak.)

 

  • Do you think others will think less of you if you fail at something? (Others value you for your character traits and Christlike attitudes and actions rather than whether or not you fail at something. And remember, they, too, have failed.)

 

  • Do you think it is a bad reflection on Christ when you fail? (Your failures provide a platform to show others that your security is in Christ, not in your successes.)

 

  • Do you think failure is shameful and sinful? (Failing does not make you a failure. Failure is sinful only when it is a result of disobedience.)

‘My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’

(Isaiah 55:8–9)

 

Wrong Responses to Failure

Wrong Belief:  “Failure is a sign of personal defeat. I must accomplish my goals and be successful in the eyes of others to feel good about myself.”

Right Belief:  “Failure is God’s way of deepening my dependence on Him. Success is submitting to God’s goal of Christlikeness for my life—regardless of the outcome.”

 

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.”

(Romans 8:28–29)

When You Have Failed

  • The fact that you have failed doesn’t make you a failure.
  • Refuse to view failure as final.
  • Expect failure to have consequences.
  • Use failure as a stepping stone to success.
  • Search for the good that God wants to bring out of failure.
  • Research the lives of others who have failed.
  • Realize that although you will fail, God will never fail you.
  • Develop perseverance and never give up.
  • If your failure is a result of sin, ask God’s forgiveness.
  • If your failure has hurt others, ask their forgiveness.
  • If your failure has hurt you, accept God’s forgiveness and move on.
  • Recognize Satan as the source of inner accusation. He condemns; the Spirit gently convicts. And remember, Satan will still try to condemn even after sin has been confessed. The Bible describes satan as ...

“The accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night ...”

(Revelation 12:10)

 

Turn Stumbling Stones Into Stepping Stones

  • Return to your first love. (Revelation 2:4)
  • Recall your failure. (Revelation 2:5)
  • Repent through godly sorrow. (2 Corinthians 7:10) Receive God’s forgiveness. (Psalm 31:1–2)
  • Respond correctly to brokenness. (Psalm 51:17) Remember God’s sovereignty. (Psalm 75:7)
  • Recognize God’s purpose. (Psalm 11:7)
  • Realize your need for Christ. (John 15:5)
  • Refuse to quit. (Philippians 3:13–14)
  • Reach out to comfort others. (2 Corinthians 1:34)
  • Rely on Christ within you (Galatians 2:20)

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

(Romans 8:28)

 

What to Do When Someone Fails You

  • Extend an outstretched hand. (Matthew 14:31) 
  • Encourage conversation by asking questions. (John 21:15)
  • Express the person’s value to God. (John 3:16)
  • Entrust responsibility when appropriate. (John 21:15–17)
  • Explore a plan for achieving success in God’s eyes. (Romans 12:1–2)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

(2 Corinthians 1:3–4)

What Is Success?

He consistently is listed first among the apostles and arguably could be considered the primary, predominant disciple.

Powerful … persuasive … such esteem might hint at near perfection, but Peter’s life was punctuated by failure. Although he stumbled many a time … by God’s grace he got up … and continued his spiritual walk … time and time again. His stumbling stones became stepping stones for the greater glory of God.

  • Success means “achieving,” attaining or accomplishing what is desired.”
    • succeed “to follow another, to turn out well, to have success”
    • success “a favorable result, a desired ending”
  • Success in the eyes of the world is the accumulation of…
    • possessions
    • power
    • position
    • popularity

However, the Bible cautions us about prioritizing the earthly above the heavenly.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world.”

(1 John 2:15–16)

  • Success (the word) comes from the Hebrew sakal, which means to be wise.
    • The root of the Hebrew word sakal means “to be wise, to have insight.”
    • It can also be used for causing something—meaning, “to prove to be wise, to succeed.” To the Hebrew, when people succeed, they prove that they are wise and have insight!

"Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.”

(Joshua 1:7)

 

The Two Types of Success:

#1 Pride-producing success focuses on your gifts and abilities and brings glory to you rather than to God.

“Be careful not to do your ‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.”

(Matthew 6:1)

#2 Humility-producing success focuses on the power and grace of God and brings glory to Him rather than to you.

“Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

(Matthew 5:16)

Change Your Focus

“Dear Jesus, I will let my mind focus only on what is...  (Read Philippians 4:8.)

  • True:

Although I’ve experienced pain in my past, I purpose to ignore satan’s lying accusations and focus on Your truth.

  • Noble:

Since bitterness is really dishonoring to You, I release all of my bitterness out of respect for You.

  • Right:

Although I am treated unjustly by others, I’m choosing to act in a way that is right in Your eyes toward others.

  • Pure:

Although my heart hasn’t always been pure, I will commit to a life that is pure.

  • Lovely:

Even though others have shown disrespect, I will extend Jesus’ loving respect.

  • Admirable:

Even though I don’t feel that others admire me, I want them to admire Christ.

  • Excellent:

When my plans failed and I lost purpose, I learned to excel with Your plans and purpose.

  • Praiseworthy:

When I feel defeated with no sense of worth, I know that Jesus is praiseworthy and my worth is in Him.

 

Key Verse to Learn

“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

(1Thessalonians 5:24)

 

Key Passage to Read

1 Peter 5:6–10

 

Grace Filled Words

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”

Hebrews 12:1

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

2 Corinthians 1:3–4

 

“The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”

1 Thessalonians 5:24

 

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Romans 8:28

 

Additional Scriptures

1 Peter 5:6–10

1 John 4:18

Proverbs 16:18

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