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Making Failure Work for You

Updated on June 8, 2015

Making Failure Work for You

“I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.” Thomas A. Edison

Everybody knows what it feels like to fail at something. It shakes your confidence. It's normal to want to be a winner, but for some winning is everything. For some, no matter how much they succeed, it's never enough. They still feel like failures. They fail to realize they have set their sights on the wrong goal.

The question is what made these people feel like a failure? Many in the medical community agree they were taught to feel that way during early childhood. When a parent continually tells a child they will never amount to anything there's a good chance it will result in a self fulfilling prophecy. That child will spend his life trying to prove they are a success.

What we need to understand is there are more important standards of success than those inflicted by a parent. God's standard of success is the truest standard of all. He doesn't measure us by how much money we have, what kind of car we drive, or where we live. We are measured by our character, and what is in our hearts.

We All Fall Down

Everybody fails at one time or another. No one is perfect. God understands and prepares us for it. We are not perfect, even in our faith, and God wants us to understand and accept that. God knows we're going to fail sometimes. Yet, He also stands by us. It's not easy to accept failure, it makes us depressed, and sometimes like we have no value.

Failure is a fact of life but God’s grace is more than adequate to overcome any situation. Too often, we view failure with disgust and the worst thing that could happen to us. Therefore we consciously or subconsciously ignore our sins and failures because to admit them is to admit failure. People often back off from responsibility or job for fear of failure. People believe if they fail they have little value. But, as previously mentioned, many great biblical characters experienced failure. For instance:

  • When David should have been out in battle, he stayed home and committed adultery with Bathsheba.

  • Peter, denied the Lord, as did the rest of the disciples who fled upon the Lord's arrest.

It seems sometimes God let's us fail in order to help us grow spiritually. Our failures are often rungs on the ladder of growth. We can learn from our mistakes. The point is, we should never allow fear of failure to keep us from tackling a job or trying something that takes us out of our comfort zone. Nor should we allow past failures to keep us down, or think God can’t do anything with us because we have somehow failed. The Bible says we are all sinners and prone to failure, but in Christ we can overcome them.

Mature Attitudes About Failure and Success

Mature believers understand Christians can be successful in spite of failure because of God’s grace and forgiveness, although we may have to live with the results and consequences. We reap what we sow. Mature believers also try to use failures as lessons for growth and change. When mature believers fail they:

  • Acknowledge them, and never make excuses.

  • Confess their sins when sin is involved.

  • Learn from their failures.

  • We are to put our failures behind us, and rest in His forgiveness.

  • We are accepted in the Lord on the basis of Grace, not our performance.

  • We are not perfect.

Failure is not the end. Even good people fail. Don’t let failure discourage you.

Apparently, the apostle Paul faced strong opposition when he first preached in Thessalonica. The crowds viciously accused him of all kinds of motives for his preaching.

  • He was just after money.

  • He was just trying to tickle ears.

  • His teaching was heretical.

At the time most probably would have said Paul’s visit was a failure, a waste of time.

But today we know it wasn’t. And we know because Paul wrote the church he established on that visit. Apparently, the gospel had taken root. Many of the things we consider failures really aren’t. They’re just stepping-stones. Failure doesn't always look the same.

We have all heard inspiring quotes about failure being a part of the journey to success. Guess what, their true.

God’s Perspective on Mistakes

Satan uses our mistakes and failures as weapons against us. He attempts to destroy our faith by our lack of confidence. For this reason, it's imperative we understand God’s perspective. Obviously, His perspective is much better than ours. He knows they will happen.

Remember when the disciples encountered a brutal storm on the Sea of Galilee? Jesus had sent the disciples ahead in the boat, and then went up a mountain to pray. Surely, Jesus knew exactly what was going on down below with the disciples in the boat. But at the right moment He showed up and calmed the sea. Aren't we sometimes like those disciples, not having enough faith?

Jeremiah makes it clear:

Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

Trials would not be trials if they were were not difficult.

These verses and many more, teach God is unconcerned with our past failures. He uses them to help us learn. Naturally, we hate failure. We resist it with every fiber of our being. Nevertheless, there are no exceptions, it will happen to all of us. We can’t be human without it.

It is only after we fail at something do we recognize our present condition. Each failure teaches us a lesson.


Perhaps, the one thing we resist the most is humility and hesitate to try new things for fear of failure. Sometimes it feels like we are paralyzed.

Failing shouldn’t surprise us, it's normal.


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