Since reaching the age of 69 just a few days ago, I have a confession to make: I am well-acquainted with failure. Whether it is the smaller, somewhat trivial versions of failure or the kind that results in a lot of pain, I have known them all. I may even be bold enough to say that I have become somewhat of an expert on how to handle failure.
When it comes to the subject of failure, it’s not an issue of “if” but “when.” We all come into the world broken, and broken people break things. So, it seems to me that developing a strategy for times of personal failure not only makes sense, but is also an imperative.
On November 9th, 2009, the pride of the U.S. Navy was steaming towards New York City. The USS New York is a San Antonio class amphibious assault ship. The billion-dollar, 25,000-ton vessel is 684 feet long and 105 feet wide. It can carry 300 sailors and 700 Marines. But what makes this ship noteworthy is that it was partially constructed with 7.5 tons of steel from the pile of rubble left after the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. We used the remnants of our momentary defeat to create something that can enhance our security and threaten our enemies in the future. What a cool story.
Here’s the application: we all face defeat and failure as we try to do this thing called life. Our attempts at building a relationship, home or career are sometimes met with unexpected devastation. Perhaps there is a significant relationship in your life that screams, “FAILURE!” Maybe you are one of the many who have too much month left at the end of your money. A “secret sin” may be causing you to feel like you are less of a person than you want to be. Your repeated attempts at victory over it have only led to repeated falls. May I offer you a strategy that has worked well for me?
- Don’t do life alone. God has created you for community. Find godly people who will not only do “stuff” with you, but “life” with you. Welcome them into the area of your struggle, and listen for the wisdom of God that just may fall from their lips.
- Develop a new approach to life, one that is based on the wisdom of the One who invented life and created you! If you want to be someone you’ve never been, you have to do something you’ve never done. Growth and victory are a by-product of intentional effort and surrender to the Father.
- Keep putting one foot in front of the other. It is always too soon to quit. I ask myself these two questions on a regular basis, especially when feeling discouraged: 1. “What will I lose if I quit now?” 2. “What could I gain if I stay in the game?”
Failing does not make you a failure; refusing to try again does. I sense that there are many of you feeling beat up by the blows of frustration, defeat and loss in certain areas of your life today. Let’s learn a lesson from the USS New York. We can pick through the rubble of our past mistakes and find the materials we need to build a better and stronger you. I call you up! You are not alone, and you will make it. God believes in you and so do I.
Galatians 6:9 (TLB), “And let us not get tired of doing what is right, for after a while we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t get discouraged and give up.”