Finding Success in Failure

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

  • Philippians 4:12-13

My flesh and my heart may fail,
    but God is the strength of my heart
    and my portion forever.

  • Psalm 73:26

I will maintain my love to him forever,
    and my covenant with him will never fail.
I will establish his line forever,
    his throne as long as the heavens endure.

  • Psalm 89:28-29

“Thomas Edison made many attempts at inventing a working lightbulb with setback after setback. Yet he was confident he hadn’t failed even once. He had simply found ten thousand ways not to make a lightbulb. That’s a great perspective when you face adversity. In the effort toward any worthwhile goal, failure has to be considered part of the process. Failure in achieving a particular result isn’t really failure if it’s another step on the way toward the goal. It can be a vital part of the journey.
“I wish I had learned more about failure when I was young—how to handle it and even appreciate it. I just didn’t realize how often it would rear its ugly head. Twenty-eight years of coaching with one Super Bowl and twenty—seven years not so super. I saw successful people and didn’t even consider the struggles that might have been part of their journey to get where they were. But I’ve since learned that failure—in sports and in every area of life—happens regularly. It’s part of everyone’s experience. And if we’re afraid of it, we won’t step out and try very much. We’ll never accomplish our dreams if we’re afraid of what might happen when we try.”

  • Tony Dungy and Nathan Whitaker, The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge (Devotion for 22 February)

I like what Tony Dungy said about winning one Super Bowl and then the many seasons that were not super.  But if he had done as he suggests in this devotion, the media would scream how he had failed.

Even those of us who are not in the spotlight of the media have those in our lives that remind us of our failures.  Not everyone can be a Thomas Edison and find 10,000 ways to not make a lightbulb.  The world is excessively results driven.

The last 20 years of my career was at a job where mistakes were simply not allowed.  An engineer might make a minor mistake here or there.  Sometimes, they went unnoticed, but usually the focus was to fix the mistake and keep the customer happy.  The worst failure was in not keeping the customer happy.  But I was the training manager and if I said the wrong thing in class, people could be injured or killed by the mistake they would make because I told them the wrong thing.  I had one assistant who repeatedly said the opposite of what he was supposed to say.  Me correcting him so that the class got the correct words from their instructors became a dark comedy routine.  You never knew when they were paying attention.

But I think that the failures that I remember the most over the years was the times that I did not say, “I love you,” the times that I failed to take that extra trip to see how someone was doing, and the times that I forgot to pray for a friend who needed my prayers.  God makes promises that He will ensure that His own remain His.  If there is someone that I failed to talk to about Jesus, I am certain that God found someone else to take my place, if that person was among the elect, but that does not make it right.

But the thing is that God makes it right.  God gives us the strength that we need. We must be willing.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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