Not sure if you're like me, but it seems that failure is a better friend than success. Of course, most leaders only teach the "success" side of the story. We talk about our growth as a group or a church. We talk about how well things are going with our families or our finances. The truth is that we don't achieve the goals we set for ourselves, and end up failing. The truth is that many times we're not entirely in "success" but as good leaders, we modify the failures in our conversations so that we can feel better, even if just for the moment. Though we're not trying to lie, since lying is a sin, we twist the truth so as to not show failure. We forget that failure is many times a better teacher than success, and we miss the learning opportunity, and fail to learn from the failure.
We also tend to look for successful people to listen to, but rarely take the time to stop and listen to someone that has failed and learn from them. Maybe this happens because we have success too mixed in with what we do, and when we don't accomplish something, we become unmotivated and feel like failures. Our successes should not be dependent on results or what we do, but defined by who we are in God. Even if we feel like we've failed, we should always learn from it because we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).
Allow me to share a few things I’ve learned from failure:
God is seeking for “failures”.
The purpose of God is so intense with failures that since the beginning, He has used failure to show His love for us. In the beginning of creation, God used the scenario of a pair of failures named Adam and Eve. He changes the scene of failure that separated us from communion with him, and turns it into the greatest story of love and redemption. This is why He constantly uses failures to use them for His glory. For example, we have Moses. He is called by God, felt like a “failure”, and God uses him to liberate His people. Maybe this is how you feel today, and even still, God has called you to depend on Him to use you for His glory. Remember that you’re failure today can just be a prelude to success tomorrow. I think that even the tears that you have shed in your past can be used to water the fruits of your future.
- Failure is essential for the life of a Christian leader.
When you fail, it’s because you’re taking risks. Those who have never failed are only because they have not taken big challenges. Failure is part of the story of those who are risk-takers. For example, discipling youth is risky business. It may not always lead to results you’re expecting, but discipling youth is always worth it. I remember the first girl (unfortunately not the last) that during my ministry ended up pregnant and without a husband. When I found out, I felt that I failed her as a leader, and even felt at fault. I’m not even sure why I felt culpable, but I felt like a big failure. It was in this process that I learned to learned to love without focusing on results. I understood that God has called me to disciple youth, regardless of whether they’ve done right or wrong; my mission was to accompany them in life as a whole. This helped me motivate this young couple in this difficult process and show them the love of Jesus. Thanks to God, today they have a stable marriage and have even more children.
- Failure drives your growth
When things are going well for us, many times we get comfortable, and if there is an enemy of God’s purpose in your life, it’s conformism. When we’re conformed, we don't care as much as we once did, and we lose the sense of awe that we had when we began to know and serve God. When we fail remind us that we must go further and we still have much more to grow. I once heard someone tell me “a tree that has stopped growing is actually dead”. Many times, failure is what motivates us to take a pause and analyze what we can improve on in our lives and ministry. If you know how to take advantage of your failures, you will learn to grow through them so that you only have to commit that failure once.
Failure is ultimately not such a bad partner. Many times it’s better to learn from failures than from our successes. At the end of the day, I believe that our accomplishments are a series of failed attempts that lead to a success. The truth is that I have personally learned more from failures than I have from success. Sometimes failure is more honest, and to be honest is to be genuine. I think that youth and those around you will strongly value your genuinity. Most importantly, God values genuinity. In closing, Romans 5:3-5 says “We also glory in our sufferings [or failures], because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” At the end, it doesn’t matter if we fail. What’s important is that we learn from it and understand that each failure teaches us to live under the will of our Savior, Jesus Christ.