January 15, 2013
The 3-time All-American basketball player, greatest college basketball coach of all time at UCLA, and incredibly mature disciple of Christ, John Wooden, was a tremendous motivator and teacher. He shared many quips of simple but deep wisdom. One of my favorite Wooden quotes is, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”
Failures in my life sometimes led to periods of paralysis … of doing nothing. I felt and acted as if I were defeated by my failures and disasters. Obviously, failures can have consequences and can adversely impact our lives. But their biggest and most harmful feature is their propensity to distort our lenses when we don’t process failures diligently and accurately. Often, when we struggle, our natural response is to run for safety, not to dig in, assess, process, and battle the way back to victory.
On the positive side, when I look back on most of my mistakes, I see that they created great opportunities for growth and often led to positive changes in my life. In fact, my life has really taken off since I began learning how to respond to failures by looking more deeply into my heart, seeking God and His instruction more, and applying what He is teaching me at that time.
Have you learned from your failures? Or have you let your failures defeat you? Since nobody is perfect, we all experience failure. But God wants you to trust, learn, and try again with more of His help and less of your limited understanding. We often look at failure as the last step in a situation. Instead, it is just one of many steps in a long process of growth. It is part of the refining process, letting us know where we need to work. Most importantly, God wants us to invite Him in so He can help us in each situation.
Our need for immediate positive results and affirmation often prematurely push us to catastrophize an outcome that’s less-than-ideal. Then our pride and lack of humility interfere with a willingness to seek help from a Higher Authority. But where has this me-centered strategy really gotten you? Don’t you think it is time to change this strategy?
Today, assess areas where feelings of failure leak into your heart. Ask God in. Reflect on what you need to work on. Seek God’s instruction. Be open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Most of all, don’t make that area of struggle more important than your relationship with God. See yourself through His lenses, as one of His very own children, covered with the blood of Christ. Don’t let failure continue to defeat you. As a Christian, your war is won and eternity is secured. Failure isn’t even a possibility. We do have daily battles and He will equip us for victory if we let Him. Growing through failure or failing to change is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father God, You know, Father, I have a string of failures … and I continue to fail each time I sin against you. I thank You, Father, for sending other believers to me to serve as guides and teachers. Thank You especially for Your Holy Spirit that empowers and guides me. Help me, Father, to learn from each failure. I thank You for picking me up when I fall, and for sending Jesus Christ at my most fallen state, to forgive my sins. I pray this in the name of the One whom You sent to give me and all believers victory, Jesus Christ; And all God’s Children say – AMEN!
but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:8,9