I titled this article after John C. Maxwell’s book. It seemed like an appropriate matter to speak on since the first word is a subject I am intimately familiar with and so far, by the grace of God, am still pushing forward! Failing is something I’ve grown to become more comfortable with as time has passed. My friend Byron said it best, “Ed, do you know what growth is? It’s doing something you’ve never done. And when you do something you’ve never done, you’re going to make mistakes.” And that’s how I see it, failing is all part of growth as long as you’re learning.
God has given me the fortune of having been allowed to fail in many areas of my life. Doing so has been great for my character and given me a plethora of opportunities to learn from. A few of those areas have been academic (high school and college), professionally (employed and also with my first business), mentoring people in my former church, I’ve also failed in my marriage, and definitely in my relationship with God. Having been around as a disciple of Jesus for 11 years now, it’s been an adventurous and challenging ride (the challenge to love, in my opinion, is the most challenging of ventures). In my first year I almost fell away as I was immoral with two women. Throughout my walk I’ve battled bitterness towards God and with sinful things I have seen tolerated in church. And more recently about 2.5 years ago, I was battling bitterness towards God and my wife and it really caused a great deal of turmoil for myself, wife, family, friends, and our church. I was at a point in my marriage and spiritual walk where I was considering pursuing a prostitute because I was just angry and wanted to feel good. It brought me to a place where I realized I needed help – people that believed God’s Word had power and that would point me to it. With much prayer and fasting, God put disciples in my life that believed in me, loved me, and held me to the standard of the bible. From there, the rest was really me having to put in the work to obey the bible. Now, my friendship with God has flourished, it has carried over into my marriage and friendship with my wonderful wife, and also into my ministry and all the other relationships that cross my path. Failing happens, we just need to be comfortable with it.
Still not convinced that failing happens? Here are some notable figures in U.S. history that have failed:
- Abraham Lincoln failed in business and campaigning prior to becoming President of the U.S.
- Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was four years old and his teachers described him as “mentally slow.”
- Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team for a “lack of skill.”
- Bill Gates was a Harvard University drop out and his first business failed.
- Thomas Edison failed many times in the pursuit of his inventions.
- Steve Jobs was removed from the company he started.
- Oprah Winfrey was fired from a reporter position because she was “unfit for TV.”
- Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper for “lacking imagination”.
- Henry Ford failed at three businesses before succeeding with Ford Motor Company at age 53.
- Colonel Sanders (of KFC) was rejected at more than 1000 restaurants before he could sell his famous chicken.
If you’re failing in school, work, relationships, etc, I’ll share with you what helped me:
- Go For Help(Proverbs 15.22, Proverbs 24:6, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27). Going for help from godly men is righteous and many advisers help set us up for victory. God didn’t design life to be navigated all alone.
- Believe God Loves You(John 3:17, 1 John 4:8-10, 2 Timothy 2:1-3). There’s a saying I keep hearing from my ministry leaders, “Be strong in the grace, bro!” Well God loves us so there’s no good reason to beat ourselves up over our mistakes.
- Make God #1 (Matthew 22:36-38, Deuteronomy 30, Proverbs 3:5-8). Get back to the basics – spend quality time with God, obey Him, and prioritize Him as numero uno in life.
- Learn To Fail Forward (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-4, Hebrews 12:1-11). Challenges are going to come so learn what you can from your mistakes and push on – all of God’s faithful people had to. It’s simply God’s way of allowing our character to be tested (to see what we’re made of). At some point we stumble and fall. What matters is that we get back up and continue in the direction God has called us in!