Saturday, November 1, 2014

Failing Forward

by Andrew Cromwell

Proverbs says, “The godly may trip 7 times, but they will get up again.” When it comes to failure, the difference between the godly and the wicked are that the godly keep getting back up and pressing on.
Have you ever failed? Failed to keep a promise? Failed to follow through? Maybe you had a business venture fail. Or you had a marriage fail. We have all experienced failure at some level. Some failures threaten to be life shattering and we wonder if we will ever be able to recover.

When we fail, our tendency is generally either to look for someone to blame or to run and hide. We like to play the blame game because it makes us feel better about ourselves. If we can blame someone or something else, then we don’t have to take an honest look at the role we played in the failure. If we run and hide, it is because we don’t want to be hurt again and so we stop taking chances.

Both responses are just wrong. When we choose to blame or run, we simply steal our opportunity to grow through the failure. The attitude we want is the one Thomas Edison had, when at the age of 67 nearly his entire workshop was destroyed in a fire. He said, "There is value in disaster. All our mistakes are burned up. Now we can start anew."

The next time you face failure, let me suggest three strategies that will help you fall forward rather than stumble backward.

First, ask yourself, “What do I know?” You need to know that failure is not final. You need to know that God wants to work in your failure, if you will only invite Him into it. He is not surprised by our failure even when we are. And He always offers us grace and help in the midst of our brokenness. You need to know that Jesus is in your corner -- are you in His?

Second, ask yourself, “How can I grow?” There is always an opportunity for growth in every difficult experience. C.S. Lewis said, “Failures are sign posts on the road to achievement.” No great man or woman accomplished anything without also experiencing great failure. The key is to learn and grow through it. What must change in our character, our behavior, our beliefs and our motives?

Third, ask yourself, “What do I show?” There are people that whine and cry and throw a fit when the going gets tough. And then there are those who have decided that they are going to see their difficulty as an opportunity to demonstrate grace, humility and strength. I am not talking about putting on a false face and acting as if everything is ok. Rather, I am talking about choosing to lean on God’s power in such a way that He shines through, even when we are broken, battered, and bruised. What shows in you when you fail?

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