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Intersection of Life and Faith

Use failures as opportunities to grow

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2001 30 Jul
Use failures as opportunities to grow
Failure hurts. Whether it's something as big as losing a relationship or a job because of your mistakes or simply saying something embarrassing in a conversation, failure can easily leave you feeling hopeless.
But from God's perspective, there's always hope after failure. Even when you fail by the world's standards, you can be a success in God's eyes. He can powerfully transform your life no matter what has happened, and sometimes failures are especially good times for God to work in your life.
Here are some ways you can use failures as opportunities to grow:

  • Live to please God, not other people. God's opinion is the only one that ultimately matters.
  • Realize that if you're faithfully doing what God wants you to do -- even if you're not accomplishing much right now -- He considers you as success because you're faithful.
  • Don't let failure shock you; no one is immune to it. Failure is a normal part of life when you take risks in order to grow. Admit your failures, and accept them.
  • Rather than dwelling on feelings of guilt and shame, confess your mistakes to God and ask Him to forgive you. Accept the unconditional love that God always offers you, as well as the grace He gives you to grow.
  • Never give up! Don't ever let failure keep you from trying new things.
  • Understand that God may or may not choose to let you know why an effort of yours has failed. But rather than focusing on what you see as unfair circumstances, focus on God's character. Know that He will always act in your best interests, and trust Him to lead you through each day in love.
  • Before undertaking a new endeavor, pray about God's will. Do you have a sense of peace that God is genuinely leading you to pursue it? Have you actively listened to the Holy Spirit's voice?
  • Assess your motives when you consider pursuing a new endeavor. Honestly determine whether you're motivated to pursue it out of love for God, or because you expect or hope to receive some type of personal gain. If your effort doesn't result in personal gain, would you consider that effort a failure? Strive to be a servant; if you do, every effort you invest in will be successful in God's eyes.
  • Think about how a particular failure can help you understand yourself better than before, and push you closer to Christ than you had been before failing. Ask God what He wants you to learn from the failure.
  • Don't isolate yourself from others after you've failed. Embrace comfort and encouragement from people who care about you.
  • When failure has left you feeling gloomy, remember some recent times when you celebrated God's work in your life. Realize that failure is only temporary. Know that because of Christ's resurrection, you have a living hope from which you can draw your strength in the future.

Adapted from Beyond Failure: Discovering Grace and Hope in the Hard Times of Life, copyright 2001 by James A. Scudder. Published by Crossway Books, Wheaton, Ill.,, 1-800-635-7993.

James A. Scudder is the founder of Quentin Road Ministries, which includes the 1,000-member Quentin Road Baptist Church in Lake Zurich, Ill., plus day schools, preschools, TV and radio programs and a monthly magazine.