By now, you’re probably familiar with the story of Apollo 13. The space capsule was supposed to do a “routine” landing on the moon and bring back rocks. Two days into the flight, there was a problem with the oxygen tank and it limited their ability to do anything. Instead of a lunar landing mission, it became a rescue mission. As they tried to figure out how to rescue them, Gene Kranz uttered the famous saying, “Failure is not an option!”
He was reminding his people that no matter how hard things got, they were not going to give up. They faced so many obstacles and hit a lot of dead ends. Instead of letting them give up, he sent them back to the drawing board to figure out another way. Many times the crew, and the people at NASA, didn’t know what to do next. While the Apollo 13 never accomplished their goal of landing on the moon, the mission was counted as a success because they found a way to get them back.
Giving up is to resign to failure. I can’t tell you how many times in life, I’ve felt like giving up. I felt like a failure, so I thought I might as well give up. I failed at life. I failed at love. I failed at work. It was easier to give up. I lacked the strength to try again. I thought I was out of options other than to give up. I had to remind myself that failure wasn’t an option. I had to tell myself to get back up. I had to pray like my life depended on it because it did.
Psalm 142:3 says, “When I am ready to give up, he knows what I should do” (GNT). When you’re at the point that you don’t know what to do next, pray that God would show you what to do. Ask Him to open the right door, to illuminate the right path. Be still, listen to His voice and look for the next step. Whatever you do, don’t ever give up because failure is not an option. Success is not earned by the outcome. It’s earned in not giving up.
I’ve never really gotten hooked on “Survivor” the TV show, but I’ve watched some episodes when nothing else was on. It was on one such occasion where Jeff Probst was asking one of the contestants why she had played it safe in a certain challenge. Her answer alarmed me. She said, “I’ve never failed or lost in my life. I’m not going to start now.” He quickly asked, “How have you made it halfway into your twenties and still have never failed?” She said, “I’ve never put my self into any situation where there was a possibility of failure or losing.”
She, like many of us, is so afraid of failing that she never puts herself in situations where she can. That means she never takes risk and misses out on lots of learning opportunities. She also misses out on lots of rewards too. If you never take risks, you will never reach your potential. We can’t let fear of failure keep us locked up in a prison of pride. Failure is only a set back if you don’t learn from it. It is intended to be used to grow from, not to keep us from ever trying again.
It’s not a matter of if we will fail at something in this life, it’s a matter of when. Life is one big series of failures and successes. If we never put ourselves in situations to fail, we truly haven’t been successful. My greatest, most indelible learning moments came from failure. I’ve failed in business. I’ve failed in marriage. I’ve failed in my faith. I’ve failed in just about everything I’ve put my hand to. I can choose to quit trying or I can choose to learn from each failure and allow it to move me forward in my learning.
There is no one who hates to fail more than I do. It drives me nuts. I keep going back at it over and over until I can successfully do whatever it is I’ve failed at. The other alternative is to quit. What if I had quit the first time I couldn’t parallel park? I wouldn’t have a driver’s license. What if I had quit the first time I misspelled a word? I wouldn’t be literate. What if I had quit when I failed at marriage? I wouldn’t have an amazing family. What if I had quit when I failed God?
We each have a choice when we fail. It doesn’t matter how minuscule the failure is or how public and spectacular it is. We can choose to go backwards and never try again or we can choose to try again until we are successful. Our attitude in failure determines our ability to grow. God is not afraid of you failing nor is He disappointed in it. His concern is that you learn from it, get back up and move forward. God still loves you and can still use you no matter how big your failures are. If you’re willing to learn from them and to grow, He can use those failures to help you reach others through it.
Have you tried to live your life like the young lady on “Survivor”? Have you been so afraid to fail or have had too much pride to put yourself in a position to fail? Don’t be afraid to take a chance, step out in faith or do something for God because you are afraid to fail. The amount to which you are willing to risk failure is the amount to which God can bless you with success. Failure is only the end if you let it be that. For me, I’ve learned how to turn it into success because I choose to learn from it. You can too, but the you have to make the choice first.