Free to Fail Or Fearful of Failure
The theme I have been trying to get through to my students this year is to be willing to take a risk and volunteer an answer. I keep telling them that even if they are wrong, the only way to learn is through failure. That if they never risk anything, if they never fail, they will never learn anything new.
I encourage my students to be brave enough to fail and then do my utmost to provide a safety net so that when they do it doesn’t hurt their ego too bad. I want them to “bounce back” from each failure.
I want students to be comfortable with failure. Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here. I don’t want them to accept failure; I just don’t want them to fear it.
Fear of failure can cause a person to never step out in faith. Fear of failure can cause a person to never speak up when they think they see a solution to a problem. Fear of failure can cause a person to repress dreams, desires, and goals and settle for less than they are capable of achieving. Fear of failure can turn a healthy individual into a vegetable.
Failure is a fact. It is going to happen to each of us at some time. Some of us are going to experience it regularly. We need to know that failure is not terminal.
Failure does not define us. However, our response to the failure might.
When we fail, not if, but when, we have choices to make. We can accept the failure and quit, or we can acknowledge the failure and use it as a learning experience.
I’m guilty of using the phrase, “Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.” Often I finish the phrase with something like “don’t like the t-shirt“, “outgrew the t-shirt”, “the t-shirt has developed holes”, or any other sarcastic statement that basically means I’m never going there again.
I tried it. It didn’t work. Forget it. I’m not opening myself up to that experience again.
That’s what really happened. Regardless of the situation, it was a failed situation.
I don’t like failure. Can’t stand to fail, actually. It all but kills me to admit that something I’ve been involved with wasn’t successful. I can’t accept failure. I often explain away failure with the explanation that God must not have called me to do whatever endeavor it was I attempted. If He had, it wouldn’t have failed.
Are you done laughing yet? Have you dried your eyes? Isn’t it funny how we (I) can blame God for everything? No responsibility for my own actions, thoughts, feelings…it all comes back to Him.
Now, don’t get me wrong here either. I know good and well I’ve done some things, filled some roles, that God hadn’t called me to, and I know they weren’t as successful as they could have been because of that. God’s calling on our life plays a part in the difference between success and failure, but that isn’t really what we’re talking about today, is it?
Does God use people who have failed to serve Him correctly?
Do I need to go on? Some of the same people on God’s Hall of Fame list would most definitely make the Hall of Failure list too.
Is failure terminal? No. Is our response to that failure important? Unbelievably so.
What if Jonah had fell into a deep depression while in the belly of the fish? What if Moses had refused to take Aaron as a speaker and instead had continued with his own life outside of God’s calling? What if Peter had been so embarrassed by his denying Christ three times that he deemed himself unworthy of his calling and went back home to fish?
Failure was not terminal to these Christians. Why would it be for us?
Sometime I get so caught up in my own shortcomings that I lose sight of the fact that it is in my weakness, He is strong.