I watched an interesting video recently of billionaire business owner, Sara Blakely, talking about her father’s way of raising her to welcome failure. Every night when his kids got back from school and they gathered around the dinner table, he would ask each of them how they had failed that day, and celebrate it! He wanted them to fail because that meant they were trying new things and not just staying in their comfort zone. Sara continues to do this with her own company employees today, having meetings where she asks them how they have failed and learned something new.
I love this idea, especially with my kids. But I can guarantee you that it is much more difficult to embrace my own failings. This failure can run the gamut of everything from forgetting to get milk at the grocery store to outright sinning. I feel that I have let God, my family, my friends and myself down most of the time. The failure isn’t even the worst part of it. The aftermath of regret, self-criticism and plans to do differently next time are exhausting and discouraging. But that’s not what God does with me after I’ve messed up.
Mike Wells used to say that when you fall, you either fall into God or away from God. When you fall away from God, you get bitter, angry and full of regret. When you fall into God, you admit you did wrong and then get on, realizing that His power is the only way you are going to do something different. Failure can be a reminder that you’ve been trying to get something out of all the “doing” that it can’t give. When you fail, you can remember that Jesus’ Life empowers us to do things, and sometimes we fail because we are trying to achieve on our own. And other times, we sin and want to get swallowed up in the guilt while we negate the cross which took all that sin.
False guilt is an issue as we try to beat ourselves into doing better next time. The guilt that follows sin is the touch of the Holy Spirit—the reminder that this is not true to your identity as a child of God. We admit we messed up, and that’s all there is because Christ’s blood covered all sin at the cross. Every other bit of guilt following that is false guilt, and it’s one of the enemy’s greatest tools to derail us. We get distracted by all the things we “should” be doing, instead of realizing that God’s standard is that apart from Him we can do nothing (John 15:5) and we hit that standard every time.
When you fall, make the choice to look back to Jesus. If it’s sin, thank Him for His forgiveness and get on in His Life, realizing that obsessing on how you aren’t going to do it again is worthless and pointless. Only in His Life do we have the power to avoid sin, but sin is also not normal for a Christian so it feels bad. He gives us the motivation and the power to not sin. If it’s failure of another kind, celebrate your weakness and failure as it reminds you that He is strong and you need Him for every detail of life. What incredible fellowship there is in His Life as we invite Him into each little moment of our lives, allowing His peace, joy and hope to invade where there was only defeat and discouragement before. Celebrate your failure, my friend, and fall into God rather than away from Him.
But he answered me, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.” So I will celebrate my weaknesses, for when I’m weak I sense more deeply the mighty power of Christ living in me. So I’m not defeated by my weakness, but delighted! For when I feel my weakness and endure mistreatment—when I’m surrounded with troubles on every side and face persecution because of my love for Christ—I am made yet stronger. For my weakness becomes a portal to God’s power. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10