Failure is part of life. I can tell you this from personal experience. From seeing dreams not fulfilled to making regretful mistakes, we all have the capacity to fail. But failure can also be a fundamental process, the ‘missing ingredient’ which helps to push us toward success.
When we fail at something, our natural instinct is often to feel ashamed and disappointed. We don’t like feeling degraded and humiliated, but this is where we need to shift our thinking. If we can begin to see failure not as the end but as part of a valuable process on the way to success, we can learn a great deal.
Proverbs 23:7 says: ‘As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.’ And this is so true!
The way we think about ourselves will determine our beliefs. Our beliefs will determine our expectations, our expectations will determine our attitudes, our attitudes will determine our behaviour, our behaviour will determine our performance. And our performance will determine who we become, which ultimately determines our destiny.
We need to make sure that failure is seen from the right perspective: as the greatest teacher and not as the greatest shame! The sooner we stop devaluing ourselves because of our failures, the easier it will be to turn them to our advantage.
I remember as a child on my first day at a new school, a teacher asked the class what we wanted to do when we grew up. When it was my turn, I told her I wanted to be a surgeon, and she laughed and said ‘Do you realise David, that is a lot of studying? I can’t see you doing it. I can see you emptying dust bins.’
For many years, those words affected my thoughts. I felt like a failure, and I thought to myself ‘What is the point in trying if I am not capable of achieving much?’
However, when I rededicated my life to the Lord when I was 18, everything changed! I discovered what God thought about me and that His Words could erase the past and delete all the harmful words that had impacted my life. I remember as if it was yesterday! God gave me a dream that although I was a porter/cleaner at that point, I could get to the boardroom. I remember saying these words: ‘How can this be?’
I had messed up my education and had no qualifications. And yet I soon learned that God’s Word had everything I needed to educate me for a successful life. God was able to reveal business principles to help me with my dreams, and years later, my dream became a reality, when in 1995 I was appointed to lead a discount chain of a major organisation.
Here is what I’ve learned in that journey!
- Man’s labels must not affect what I think about myself. The only labels that should shape my thought process should be the label that God has put on me! He says that I am called, that I am qualified, that with His power and strength is at work in me, and that I can do great exploits for the kingdom
- Beware of how you think about yourself. Never forget that when you are speaking, YOU are listening. Negative self-talk can be very destructive, especially after failure or if you’re struggling with the labels that people have put on you. Ask God to help you resist the thoughts that lead you to label yourself as useless and worthless. God thinks more highly of you than you will ever imagine.
- Remember that disappointment is inevitable, but make sure that it doesn’t take over your life. Pick yourself up after any failure and allow your failures to become your greatest teacher.
- Your past failures will shape your future if you allow it, and too often we allow our past mistakes to define us. WELL DON’T! Even failure does not have to be fatal… failure can be your greatest teacher! If your past is a total failure, your future does not depend on it. God can turn your past mistakes into miracles, for your future depends not on what you’ve done but on what He’s done for you.