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Posts tagged ‘recovering from failure’

Personal Failure: Defeat or Opportunity

SOURCE:  Taken from an article by Karl Benzio/Lighthouse Network/Stepping Stones

Failures: Let God In More or Else

The 3-time All-American basketball player, greatest college basketball coach of all time at UCLA, and incredibly mature disciple of Christ, John Wooden, was a tremendous motivator and teacher. He shared many quips of simple but deep wisdom. One of my favorite Wooden quotes is, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

Failures in my life sometimes led to periods of paralysis … unable to do anything. I felt and acted as if I were defeated by my failures and disasters. Obviously, failures can have consequences and can adversely impact our lives. But their biggest and most harmful feature is their propensity to distort our lenses when we don’t process failures diligently and accurately. Often, when we struggle, our natural response is fear and then run for safety. Instead, we should be digging in, assessing, processing, and battling our way back to victory.

On the positive side, when I look back on most of my mistakes, I see they created great opportunities for growth and often led to positive changes in my life. In fact, my life has really taken off since I began learning how to respond to failures by looking more deeply into my heart, seeking God and His instruction more, and applying what He is teaching me at that time.

What about you? Have you learned from your failures? Or have you let your failures defeat you, sending ripples of paralysis or fear even after the incident? Since nobody is perfect, we all experience failure. But God wants you to trust, learn, and try again with more of His help and less of your limited understanding. We often look at failure as the last step in a situation. Instead, it is just one of many steps in a long process of growth. It is part of the refining process, letting us know where we need to work. Most importantly, God wants us to invite Him in so He can help us in each situation.

Our need for immediate positive results and affirmation often prematurely push us to catastrophize an outcome that’s less-than-ideal. Then our pride and lack of humility interfere with a willingness to seek help from a Higher Authority. But where has this me-centered strategy really gotten you? Don’t you think it is time to change this strategy?

Today, assess areas where feelings of failure leak into your heart. Ask God in. Reflect on what you need to work on. Seek God’s instruction. Be open to the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Most of all, don’t make that area of struggle more important than your relationship with God. See yourself through His lenses, as one of His very own children, covered with the blood of Christ. Don’t let failure continue to defeat you. As a Christian, your war is won and eternity is secured. Failure isn’t even a possibility. We do have daily battles and He will equip us for victory if we let Him. Whether you grow through failure or you let failure shrink you is your decision, so choose well.

Dear Father God, You know, Father, I have a string of failures … and I continue to fail each time I sin against you. I thank You, Father, for sending other believers to me to serve as guides and teachers. Thank You especially for Your Holy Spirit that empowers and guides me. Help me, Father, to learn from each failure. I thank You for picking me up when I fall, and for sending Jesus Christ at my most fallen state, to forgive my sins. I pray this in the name of the One whom You sent to give me and all believers victory, Jesus Christ;– AMEN!

The Truth
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  1 Corinthians 15:57

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  1 John 1:8,9

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5 Steps to Recover from a Failure

SOURCE:  Ron Edmondson

You’ve failed.

It was huge…at least to the people impacted by the mistake. Perhaps you did it on purpose. Maybe it was an accident. You may have stumbled into gradually over time. Bottom line: It was wrong. You did it. No denying it now.

What next?

Here are 5 steps to recover from a failure:

Admit – Be honest…with yourself and others who need to know. Quit hiding from the truth. Stop making excuses. Own up to what you did and take responsibility for your actions. It’s a sign of maturity and few make it past this point. You my have consequences to deal with. don’t run from them.

Repent – Ask God for forgiveness. If you are a believer, He’s already paid your penalty on the cross, but you need to acknowledge your sin to keep the relationship pure. Ask any injured parties for forgiveness. You’re not responsible for their granting of grace, only for your attempt to live at peace with them.

Plan – Create a new path. Consider the right way to do things next time…so you won’t make the same mistake again. Do you need new friends? A new environment? Should you step away from a position for a time? How can you ensure those around you, whose trust

Commit – Commit to your plan. Commit to new accountability. Commit to the people you love. Commit to yourself. Commit to walking a new path and writing a new story.

Grow – Learn from every failure. You do not have to be defined by this season of your life. Move forward, looking back not to feel bad about yourself, but only enough to remind you to never go there again.

You can do it!

When You Hit Bottom, Bounce Back

SOURCE:  American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC)

Bounce Back

“The test of success is not what you do when you are on top. Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” -General George S. Patton

“bounce /bouns/ verb – to cause to bound and rebound — to spring back in a lively manner…”

To “bounce” means the ability to fight through an issue, to be resilient, to be able to stabilize after adversity. To recover — and to thrive.

In 2009, Rick Hoyt completed the Boston Marathon. This race was officially his 1000th race. Since 1977, Rick has competed in marathons, duathlons, and triathlons (6 of them being Ironman competitions). In 1992 Rick “ran” 3,735 miles in 45 days. Coast-to-coast.

Rick was born in 1962 to Dick and Judy Hoyt. As a result of oxygen deprivation to Rick’s brain at the time of his birth, Rick was diagnosed as aspastic quadriplegic with cerebral palsy. He would never walk or communicate as we do. He would never be “normal.”  His life would be lived in a wheelchair.

In 1977, through the use of a special computer, Rick “told” his father that he wanted to participate in a 5-mile benefit run for a Lacrosse player who had been paralyzed in an accident. Not being a long-distance runner, Dick agreed to push Rick in his wheelchair. They finished all 5 miles, coming in next to last. “Team Hoyt” rose up from seemingly insurmountable odds and adversity. That’s “Bounce”!

When life simply isn’t fair. Filled with sickness… debt… or abandonment…

When the walls are pressing in… and you don’t even know your own name.

When you feel like you can’t breathe — or see. And there is absolutely nothing you can do.

When life isn’t the way it is supposed to be…

CONSIDER THIS:

  1. He understands. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that “…we do not have a high priest (Jesus the Son of God) who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses (frailty — feebleness — sickness — infirmities — troubles), but one who in every respect has been tempted (the trying and testing of our faith, virtue and character) as we are …” (Hebrews 4:14 ESV  He’s been there. He goes before you… and with you!
  2. He will strengthen you“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace… will Himself restoreconfirmstrengthen, and establish you.” (1Peter 5:10 ESV)

Bounce back!

Put the devil on notice in your life… It’s time to get your dreams back… Get your family back… Get your marriage back… Get your anointing back… Get your strength back… Get your step back… Get your confidence back… Get your fight back!

Claim the life changing principle in Genesis 50:20: What satan, or even other people in your life, meant for evil, God can turn it for your good.

“You are from God and have overcome them, for He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 ESV)

Bounce back! It just might turn your life around.

Failure: I Blew It . . . Now What?

SOURCE:  Discipleship Journal/Stephen W. Sorenson

Four steps to help you move forward after you fail

I clearly remember the joy I felt as a gangly 11-year-old when the school coach put me in my first basketball game. It was the moment I’d hoped for—the opportunity to show what I could do. I received a pass, dribbled toward the opponent’s basket, and prepared to shoot. Suddenly, my knee knocked the ball out of bounds. People groaned. The coach pulled me out of the game. My hopes dashed like shards of glass. I’m a failure, I thought, eyes brimming with tears. I let my team down. I’ll never be good at basketball, so why try? Why be laughed at?

I wish I could say that I became a better basketball player after I finished growing several inches a year and my six-foot-four-inch frame gained coordination. But after that incident, my passion for basketball waned. I was unwilling to risk failing again.

Dictionaries reveal that failure is “falling short of success of achievement in something expected, attempted, desired, or approved.” So chances are you’ve also experienced failure (or at least feelings of failure).

Maybe you failed at teaching Sunday school or running a business.

Maybe you failed by breaking a commitment to God or by not sharing Jesus with someone when God gave you the ideal opportunity.

Maybe you yelled at your children, lingered over lustful thoughts, or gossiped even after you were convicted to stop.

Or maybe your failure was caused by other people or by circumstances beyond your control: The invention of the desktop computer sent countless typewriter and typesetting businesses down the tubes, through no fault of their own. Whatever your “brand” of failure, you are not alone.

The moment we are born, we are guaranteed to fail. The Bible says that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3:23). We are born sinful into a sinful world.

Failure is common to all humankind.

Because we can’t insulate ourselves from failure, what matters most is not how we fail but how werespond to failure. Some of us, when we fail, become angry at God. Others blame coworkers, parents, the neighbor, or the pastor. We may give up, like I did with basketball. We may give in to self-pity.

Or we may learn from our failures. My own encounters with failure have taught me four keys to recovering from failure and moving forward. Let’s look at the importance of each.

Seeking God

When we’ve failed—especially when we’ve failed because of our foolishness or rebellion—the last thing we may want to do is turn to God. Yet He loves each of us deeply with a love that is not dependent on our success. He invites us to cast all our anxiety—including the anxiety of failure—on Him because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). He can handle our failures. He is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer (Ps. 18:2).

Our failures do not take God by surprise. He knows us through and through. He has made provision for us when we fail. Jesus Christ died on the cross and rose again so that we—people who fail—can have a personal, intimate, eternal relationship with God and receive complete forgiveness for our sins. Rather than wallowing in the fact that we fail, we can receive the grace God provided through the cross, confess our sins to Him (1 Jn. 1:9), and be renewed. He delights in strengthening us when we admit our weaknesses, request His help, and give Him the glory He deserves.

Besides loving us in spite of our failures—and making full provision for our renewal and restoration—God also promises us the gift of wisdom (Jas. 1:5–8), if we ask in faith, so we can gain His perspective when we fail. Because He is in sovereign control of all things, including our failure, He may even use it to work out His divine plans. Rahab, the prostitute who helped the Hebrew spies in Jericho, turned from her moral failure to the Living God and ended up in the lineage of Jesus.

At a time when I felt like a complete failure, I resisted seeking God. I was angry at Him. But eventually I felt compelled to verbalize that anger in prayer. Why, I raged, did You create me like this, with gifts I don’t seem able to use? God responded by leading me to Ro. 9:20–21:

But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?'” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?

I knew that God was speaking to me at that moment, and I repented of my anger toward Him. I began praying honestly about how I felt. Over time, I watched Him guide me to new opportunities to use my gifts. He has faithfully provided for me and my family, taught me more about His character, and turned my failure into a valuable learning experience. He has also enabled me to share my failures more easily with other people, which has led to deeper friendships. There’s no need to run from God when you’ve failed. Seek Him—and watch Him respond with love, renewal, and the gift of His wisdom.

Pursuing Right Relationships

Failure rarely occurs in a vacuum. Often our failure adversely affects other people.

When David arranged for Bathsheba’s husband to be killed, for example, other godly Israelite soldiers were also killed (2 Sam. 11:16–21). After Aaron agreed to make the golden calf, God sent a plague that killed many people (Ex. 32:35). On a more daily, intimate level, my failure to buy construction materials may mean that my wife, Amanda, can’t complete the wiring of our house. My failure to go on a promised outing with my 13-year-old daughter, Caitlin, may cause her to feel that my work is more important to me than she is. When we fail and other people feel the impact, we may need to take specific steps to heal those relationships.

Seek forgiveness when appropriate. The Bible clearly admonishes us to seek forgiveness. Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift” (Mt. 5:23–24). Even a simple, trivial misunderstanding that could be easily swept aside needs to be resolved right away.

Last week my daughter, joy dancing in her eyes, asked me if I could locate a tent because she wanted to camp on our land with a girlfriend. Pressured by an onslaught of tasks and just plain tired, I responded with irritation. I made Caitlin feel guilty for bothering me. Even though I did get the tent for her, I destroyed much of her joy, erected a barrier between us, and ended up feeling even worse. Later, I asked for her forgiveness—an act that drew us close again.

Make restitution when appropriate. In some instances, more is required than asking forgiveness and repenting. “If a man grazes his livestock in a field or vineyard and lets them stray and they graze in another man’s field,” we read in Ex. 22:5, “he must make restitution from the best of his own field or vineyard.” It wasn’t enough just to say, “Sorry.”

Remember Zacchaeus, the chief tax collector who had made a fortune, some of it unscrupulously? Convicted of his sin in the presence of Jesus’ holiness, Zacchaeus stood up and declared, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Lk. 19:8). Clearly he recognized the importance of making restitution.

Most of us probably learn our first lessons about restitution, as I did, when we are children. I shot out a neighbor’s window with a slingshot—and soon learned it was up to me to replace that window!

A godly friend of mine learned about restitution in a different way. He received an unannounced visit from a son he did not know he had. Before becoming a Christian, my friend had led a wild life. A girlfriend had become pregnant but never told him. To his credit—and certainly that of his wife—he and his wife received the surprise son into their home, influenced him for Christ, paid for schooling, and sent us a birth announcement—more than 20 years after the fact.

Larry (name changed) had to learn about restitution through no fault of his own. Based on a business agreement, he developed a new product and used the services of various suppliers. But before the product was introduced, the organization broke its agreement with him, which left him owing several hundred thousand dollars to suppliers. Could he have declared bankruptcy? Yes. Instead, he and his wife are sacrificially repaying all the borrowed money.

If your failure has impacted other people, prayerfully ask God what you should do to make things right. Discover what the Bible says about your situation—and the attitude you should have toward people you have wronged. Ask a godly friend for advice. Then, in God’s strength and wisdom, pursue that direction.

Seeking Wise Counsel

Whether you have failed in a public way or in your thought life, in a way that has led to great consequences or had virtually no consequences, you can benefit from the wisdom of godly people as you process and recover from your failure.

Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, underscored repeatedly the importance of seeking wise counsel. “The way of a fool seems right to him,” he taught, “but a wise man listens to advice” (Prov. 12:15). “Wisdom is found in those who take advice. . . . The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. . . . He who walks with the wise grows wise” (Prov. 13:10, 14,20). Solomon also understood the healing value of wise words: “The tongue of the wise brings healing” (Prov. 12:18).

We rob ourselves of healing and wisdom when we fail to seek counsel from godly men and women.

When career setbacks left me feeling like a failure, I learned the value of seeking counsel. My first reaction to failure was to blame others. Then I became irritable with my wife and daughter. Soon I found it harder and harder to get motivated to try new business approaches.

I became trapped in a negative, depressive spiral in which additional failure was virtually guaranteed.

In the midst of my mental fog, I called a friend for help. During a three-hour walk, he listened to me, challenged me, and encouraged me. He helped me face my anger and acknowledge my need for God. He gave me simple steps to take to break out of my failure mentality—and held me accountable for taking them. His help was pivotal in getting me jump-started again.

Who can you turn to for perspective and encouragement after a failure?

The Pause That Reflects

The fourth key to moving on after failure is taking the time to pause and reflect. Having sought God, restored injured relationships, and received wise counsel, we now need to process what we’ve learned. We need to assess ourselves and perhaps make personal changes.

A few years ago, my wife, Amanda, pointed out a longstanding root of anger that was damaging our relationship. Me? I thought, brushing her comments aside. Gradually, however, I began to recognize that I was falling short of being the husband God had called me to be.

When I realized my failure, did I immediately confess it and repent? No. I became angry because I couldn’t seem to deal constructively with my anger! I put up more emotional walls and became even more critical of Amanda. It seemed easier to shore up sinful, habitual patterns than to try to change them.

Finally, forced to admit to myself that I couldn’t get a handle on my anger, I began talking about my struggle with a wise friend. Over time, he has helped me discern the underlying reasons for my anger. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had to face deep hurts and forgive more than I’d have ever imagined. But my friend still gives me the wonderful freedom to process my angry reactions through him and to gently grow even closer to God. My marriage is stronger now, I’ve learned much more about God’s character, and I’m finding it easier to sincerely say, “I’m sorry.”

Have you ever painted over a spot that was greasy or still had loose paint on it? The new paint doesn’t stick well. Likewise, simply glossing over failure makes us miss the lessons it can teach and virtually ensures that the failure will be repeated. My parents posted this saying when I was growing up: “Don’t make the same mistake twice; make a new one.” Another adage is also true: If we don’t pay attention to our history, we will be doomed to repeat it.

You may find, as I have, that the best way to process failure is with another person. Perhaps your style is to use books or teaching tapes to guide your reflection. In whatever way works best for you, take the time to pause and reflect. Ask yourself questions like these:

• Why, according to people who know me well, did this failure occur?

• What did I do in the past that may have led to this failure?

• Is sin creating negative consequences in my life? If so, what are they? Am I willing to confess my sins to God and turn away from them?

• Am I spending time with the wrong types of people?

• Am I loving other people well?

• If I failed because of the actions of another person, how will I respond to that person?

• Am I making wise decisions?

• Am I overlooking key details and in need of wise counsel?

• Am I using my God-given gifts and abilities well?

• Is my career making the most of my strengths, or does it tax me heavily in my areas of weakness?

• Am I regularly reading the Bible and praying—seeking to draw closer to God and receive His forgiveness, wisdom, love, and instruction?

• Do I really believe that God is who He says He is and that I can rely on Him to help me?

• Am I depending too much on other people and not enough on God?

• What can I learn from this failure that will help me in the future?

• What two things have I learned through this experience that I could use to help someone else in the future?

I still fail, of course, but I’ve come a long way in choosing more effectively how to respond to failure. I’m more willing to risk trying new things. I’m asking more questions after I fail and wrestling with issues that need to be resolved. I am discovering more about myself, others, and God. And I’m constantly reminded that it’s what I do after I fail that really matters.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll put up a basketball hoop this weekend.

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