Failure is a difficult things to navigate. Let’s face it, it’s downright embarrassing to put your heart and soul into something only to see it fail. At some time or another, we will have to deal with failure and its ramifications in our lives. Professional baseball players get sent down to the minor leagues because of failure to perform on the playing field. Doctors lose patients and perhaps even face lawsuits due to failure in the operating room. Major multi-billion dollar companies lose hefty market shares because of policy decisions made in the board room. Failure comes in many shapes and sizes, but it can be devastating to deal with in our lives. And sometimes failure is not even our fault.
I was leading a church in the Grand Canyon, Arizona as its pastor. While there, the church grew from the mid-20’s to the high-50’s and we were knocking on the door of the 60’s when Covid-19 happened. Over a period of the next few months, we saw our attendance dwindle as we were unable to meet together during the pandemic. Over 95% of our church family had to leave the canyon due to layoffs and the closing of the park. When the dust settled, we had to begin anew with only about a dozen people. We began to grow once we were able to meet together again, but it was a slow, hard slog through failure. Failure is universal. At some point in time, we will have to deal with it. So, how do we deal with failure in ways that we can grow from it?
First, keep your mindset as positive as possible. I love what Edison had to say when asked about the failures he experienced in creating the light bulb. He stated, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Perhaps our failure is a stepping stone to a resounding success.
Second, learn to persevere through failure. Paul writes in Romans 5:3-4, “And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope.” Through our failures, we learn valuable lessons that can propel us forward in our lives. Our character and hope can be bolstered in positive ways as we deal with failure. Let’s face it, we learn much more from our failures than we do our successes!
Third, let your faith grow through failure. All of the Old Testament people of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11 experienced failure. But, they didn’t let it stop them. In fact, many grew from it and experienced great successes through lessons learned. Allow failure to propel you into new heights of growth, character development, and faith. God can use the great failures of your life to produce incredible life transformation.
Fourth, learn to pray more deeply through your failures. Nothing increases my prayer life more than experiencing imminent failure. As I saw the church in Arizona diminishing in attendance, I prayed more than ever. Why? Because I had a vested interest in its success. While it didn’t begin growing until the pandemic had passed, it did begin growing again. We had to step into some roles that we were unsuited for, but God even blessed those new roles. Prayer deepens through the power of perseverance. Will you persevere?
Fifth, learn the art of waiting upon God. Isaiah 40:31 states, “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” The psalmist encourages the people of Israel to “wait upon the Lord” on numerous occasions (Psalms 25:3, 5, 21; 27:14; 33:20; 37:7, 9, 34; 39:7; 40:1; 52:9; 59:9; 62:1, 5; 69:3, 6; 130:5, 6). It is in our waiting that the Lord can do the deepest soul work in our lives. Are you willing to wait?