Tag Archives: failure

Keep Failing

Several years ago I decided I was ready for the next step in my career. I wanted to be the General Manager of a retail store. I put on my suit, rehearsed answers of my achievements, thought of people I had helped get promoted and confidently walked into the interview. The District Manager followed the script for a little while then said, “I hate these questions. They don’t really tell me anything. Tell me about a time when you failed.” I sat there with a blank face. My heart was pounding. I thought, “A failure? Why does he want to know about my failures? Is he trying to keep me from the job?” As I searched for a good failure, I asked him to repeat the question. I gave him a failure when everything turned out good, but he wasn’t satisfied. He wanted one where I crashed and burned because he wanted to see how I responded to it.

Our past failures are something that so many of us try to hide. In fact, we are so afraid of failure that we typically won’t ever put ourselves in a position to fail at doing something. We try to stick with what we know so we’re always succeeding. What I’ve learned, and the point my District Manager was trying to find out if I knew is that failure is the greatest teacher. It is also the path to grace. If we never fail, we have no need for grace. If we never try to do something beyond our abilities, we also keep our faith small by never trusting God to do something through us. God rarely calls us to do things that we can do in our own strength and abilities because He knows pride is always knocking on our door waiting to take credit for our successes. But, when we do things beyond our abilities, it forces us to seek and rely on Him.

James 1:5 says, “And if anyone longs to be wise, ask God for wisdom and he will give it! He won’t see your lack of wisdom as an opportunity to scold you over your failures but he will overwhelm your failures with his generous grace” (TPT). God doesn’t ridicule our failures. He’s not waiting to strike us down when we fail either. He sees them as opportunities to grow us and to lavish His grace on us. When we’re called to something greater than our abilities, seek His wisdom first, then step out in faith and do it. If you fail, it doesn’t mean you didn’t hear God or that He didn’t come through for you. It quite often means you and God have two different definitions of failure and success. Don’t let what you think is a failure keep you down. Get back up, trust His grace and keep walking in faith because to keep playing things safe is truly a failure.

Photo by Julian Dutton on Unsplash

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Overwhelming Victory

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

I saw a poster recently with a picture of Michael Jordan on it. It caught my attention because it’s been over ten years since he played. Underneath his photo, in big letters, it said “Victory”. Then it wrote out the definition of victory. As I thought about it, he became synonymous with winning and victory, but that’s not his full story. Before he became a star, he couldn’t make his high school team. After he became a star, he failed at gambling, marriage and baseball. He failed in more areas than he succeeded in, but he did not let those failures define him.

You and I are the same. Our failures outnumber our successes. I get caught up sometimes just thinking about my failures. I wonder why I still try. I beat myself down because my failures seem so stupid. I think I should be able to beat them, but each time I fail, I get down on myself. I saw a friend on Facebook ask the other day, “Is it a true portrait of a man to see him when he is tempted?” I thought a lot about that. My first inclination was to say yes. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I thought that because I allow my failures to define me.

You and I are more than who we are when we are tempted and when we fail. We are also the person who knows where to seek forgiveness after a failure. We are the person who stands on mountain tops with our arms outstretched looking up to Heaven when we’ve succeeded. We are the person who pushes through when we don’t feel like it and no one seems to care. We are complex and should never allow ourselves to be defined or think that an accurate portrait of ourselves is who we are when we fail.

In Romans 8, Paul listed all kinds of things that could define us. At the end of that list, he said, “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ.” It’s time we started to see ourselves as God sees us. We are not all the mistakes, failures or temptations that we face. You and I are victors. We are the very definition of victory if we are willing to get back up, seek forgiveness and to try again. We may not be considered synonymous with victory in the world’s eyes, but we are in God’s. When He looks at you, He doesn’t see a failure. He sees someone made in His image with the power to win.

Photo by Nathz Guardia on Unsplash

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A Successful Failure

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.

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Flawed Failure

Throwback Thursday is a new feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.


If you are perfect, then you don’t have to read this today. If you are a flawed failure like me, you can keep reading. The good news is that you are just who God is looking for to use. He rarely picks anyone perfect to carry out His plan. If you look at the list of people God has used to do great things through, it’s full of flawed failures. It’s full of people who you probably wouldn’t want to work with. 

Moses knew his own flaws and tried to use them as an excuse to not do what God was asking him to do. He stuttered. He murdered. He ran away from his responsibilities. He was orphaned as a baby. He had excuses, but God sees our excuses as opportunities to connect with others. He sees our flaws as ways to build dependence on Him. He’s ok with you not measuring up to what you think He wants. You actually already have what He wants. That’s why He chose you to do His will.

Each of us have a purpose to fulfill. God has a desire to use you despite your flaws and excuses. He has a purpose for your life that only you can fulfill. God is not concerned with your past if you’ve gone to Him for forgiveness. He’s taken your past into account when He planned your future. He knew the struggles you were going to face. He knew where and how you were going to fail and still planned to use you. It’s hard for us to understand because what disqualifies us humanly somehow qualifies us spiritually.

God’s ways are higher than our ways. What we consider wise is foolishness to Him. When we point to the scars, disappointment, failures and sin, He points to the cross. It’s in our weakness that He can truly work. If we rely on our strengths and abilities, we get in His way. When we think we can’t or shouldn’t be used by Him, we are ready to be used by Him. If we had the ability to do it on our own, we wouldn’t rely on Him.

God can and will use our strengths, but He’s really interested in our flaws and failures. He uses those to bring healing to others and to show them that He can use them too. Be open about your past. Tell others about your scars. Your story (testimony) brings hope and healing to others. When you hide who you were, you hide the grace that God bestowed on you. Others need to see that God can forgive a past that’s dark and full of sin. Others need to see that God can and still uses someone as flawed as us.

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Focus On The Good


It was 14 years ago today that I hit rock bottom in life. I had endured five months of everything going wrong in my life, and on September 25th, I lost my job to top it off. Every time I thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. It was almost a daily occurrence. I laid down on the floor of my living room and told God, “If one more thing happens, I give up. I refuse to go down any further.” I went to my calendar and wrote, “The Bottom,” on today’s date. I vowed to climb out if that hole until I saw daylight again.

I didn’t know it would take about a decade before I got out of the hole that those five months created. I suffered some set backs through those years, but I never went further down than I had been that night. I was on the edge of ending my life because I couldn’t take the failure and the pain anymore. I was embarrassed of where my life was, and I knew I was going to have to make some changes to how I was living if I was going to get out of the hole. For starters, I was going to give control of the rebuild to God.

Clearly my way didn’t work. My life had been life a block tower that a kid built. It got to a point that it could no longer sustain itself, and it all came crashing down. I knew if I gave God control it would be built the right way and would be more stable. Fourteen years later, I can tell you that was the best decision I made. God has been good to me and has restored the years that were stolen. He has taken me farther than I dreamed I could go, and has given me more joy than I could have imagined. 

Today, instead of focusing on the bottom, I like to focus on the good things He’s done for me. It’s no longer about where I was. It’s not about where I’m going, and it’s all because of who God is. Psalm 103:3 says, “Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me” (NLT). We need to all make the decision to quit reflecting on past failures and pains, and instead focus on the good things God does for us. I can tell you it made a difference in my life, and I’m sure it will make a difference in yours. 

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Free To Fail

It’s Free Friday! Today is the day you let go of the things in your life that keep you down or hold you back from all God has for you. To celebrate, I’m giving away an autographed copy of “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst. Keep reading to find out how to enter.

I heard something this week by Tullian Tchividjian, author of “One Way Love”, that challenged me. He said, “Because Jesus succeeded, you are free to fail.” Think about that for a second. Because Jesus was successful at the cross, you are free to fail. You don’t have to live a perfect life. Now before you start going nuts, I’m not saying you should go out and do whatever you want because He will forgive you. Paul addressed that in Romans 6:1-2 when he said, “Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?”

What I’m saying is take the pressure off to constantly be perfect. You are an imperfect person who can’t live a perfect life. I know the pressure that comes from trying to live every day as perfectly as God described in scripture. I also think of three people who tried that as well. One was the Pharisees. They were so caught up in living by the law, that they couldn’t see when the law was fulfilled. They not only lived by the law, but they forced others to live by it as well. You don’t have to live by someone else’s personal convictions. Don’t live a life in sin, but also don’t live a life bound by so many rules you lose sight of the creator.

Another person that tried to live perfectly was the rich, young ruler. In Matthew 19:16, he asked Jesus, “What good deed must I do to have eternal life.” Jesus responded that he should keep the commandments. He looked at Jesus and said, “I’ve obeyed all those. What else do I need to do?” In verse 21 Jesus said, “If you want yo be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor… Then come and follow me.” He left sad because he had a lot of money and didn’t want to give that up. If you listened to his question, he thought doing good things got you in to Heaven. They don’t. Only the grace that Christ gives from His death on the cross can do that.

Finally, I think of Paul. In Philippians 3:3-4, he said, “We rely on what Christ Jesus has done for us. We put no confidence in human effort, though I could have confidence in my own effort if anyone could.” He goes on to say how strictly he lived according to the law more than anyone else, but then verses 7 and 9 come along. He said, “(7) I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. (9) I no longer count on my own righteousness through obeying the law; rather, I become righteous through faith in Christ. For God’s way of making us right with himself depends on faith.” There is nothing you can do to earn God’s love. So stop trying to live like you are earning His love and live a life out of love for Him.

When we grasp that, truly grasp that, the pressure of being perfect is lifted. There is freedom in being able to fail. I tell people all the time, “You learn the most when you fail.” I’ve got a PhD from the School of Hard Knocks. I’ve failed miserably in my life and have been embarrassed by it. I don’t have to be perfect because Jesus was. I don’t have to be successful because Jesus was. I don’t have to live up to the letter of the law because His grace makes up the difference between its standard and my failure. I am free to fail and so are you. Live in that freedom today. Be set free of trying to be perfect and let God’s grace make up the difference in your life.

If you would like to win “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God” by Lysa TerKeurst, all you have to do is go to my Facebook page here and “like” it. I will randomly pick one person tomorrow (April 12, 2014) who has liked my page. If you have already liked my page and enjoy reading these daily devotionals, you are already entered. Please invite your friends to like my page so they can receive encouragement from God’s Word too.

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Victory

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I saw a poster recently with a picture of Michael Jordan on it. It caught my attention because it’s been over ten years since he played. Underneath his photo, in big letters, it said “Victory”. Then it wrote out the definition of victory. As I thought about it, he became synonymous with winning and victory, but that’s not his full story. Before he became a star, he couldn’t make his high school team. After he became a star, he failed at gambling, marriage and baseball. He failed in more areas than he succeeded in, but he did not let those failures define him.

You and I are the same. Our failures outnumber our successes. I get caught up sometimes just thinking about my failures. I wonder why I still try. I beat myself down because my failures seem so stupid. I think I should be able to beat them, but each time I fail, I get down on myself. I saw a friend on Facebook ask the other day, “Is it a true portrait of a man to see him when he is tempted?” I thought a lot about that. My first inclination was to say yes. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I thought that because I allow my failures to define me.

You and I are more than who we are when we are tempted and when we fail. We are also the person who knows where to seek forgiveness after a failure. We are the person who stands on mountain tops with our arms outstretched looking up to Heaven when we’ve succeeded. We are the person who pushes through when we don’t feel like it and no one seems to care. We are complex and should never allow ourselves to be defined or think that an accurate portrait of ourselves is who we are when we fail.

In Romans 8, Paul listed all kinds of things that could define us. At the end of that list, he said, “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ.” It’s time we started to see ourselves as God sees us. We are not all the mistakes, failures or temptations that we face. You and I are victors. We are the very definition of victory if we are willing to get back up, seek forgiveness and to try again. We may not be considered synonymous with victory in the world’s eyes, but we are in God’s. When He looks at you, He doesn’t see a failure. He sees someone made in His image with the power to win.

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Test Day

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I’ve never really liked tests before even though I’m pretty good at them. Any time the word “test” comes up, I think of one of my high school teachers, Mr. Hart. He loved giving tests. He would wear a red contact lens, the ugliest tie he could find and eat a bag of chips while you were taking it. He’d ask, “Is this bothering you,” and then give an evil laugh. He’d ask questions that would earn you a Nobel Prize if you could answer them. His “bonus” questions came from movies like “Monty Python and the Search for the Holy Grail”. Maybe my memory has added to his legend, but that’s how I remember taking tests in his class.

I remember doing a lot of studying for tests to make sure I passed. I read back through the chapter, looked at my notes, made flash cards and quizzed other classmates to prepare. You knew the subject matter, but not what to expect on the test. As a person who played sports, there was extra pressure to pass since the “No Pass No Play” law had gone into effect. I wouldn’t have let myself down by failing, but my team too. So I put a lot of time and energy into making sure I knew the material.

All those memories came flooding back when I read what Paul wrote to the Corinthian church in II Corinthians 13:5-9. He said, “Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. (MSG)”. Paul was saying to do with our faith what I did for tests in school. Read the book (Bible), look at notes (commentaries), make flash cards (memorize scripture) and quiz other classmates (have accountability partners to help you learn and grow).

Just like we had to prepare for what Mr. Hart might throw at us, we need to be prepared for what might challenge our faith. Times of testing shouldn’t come as a surprise to us. They shouldn’t scare us either if we’ve prepared beforehand. If you can read this, you’ve lived enough life to know that you’re going to be tested. If you’re a Christian, you should know your faith will be tested. It’s not so that you will fail, but to make sure you know what you believe. When I give tests at work, I jokingly call them “celebrations of knowledge” to relieve the stress. I’m not trying to get you to fail, I’m trying to showcase how much you’ve learned.

God does that with us too. He’s not up there trying to see if you’ll fail when He tests you. He’s wanting to show you how much you’ve learned and what you need to work on. Paul understood this and encouraged us to test ourselves ahead of time so we could pass with flying colors. When we do that, we won’t take our faith for granted or drift along. We’ll know what we believe, be able to confidently speak God’s Word when the enemy comes against us and live out our faith with a purpose and a passion. What will you do today to prepare for the testing of your faith?

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Flawed Failures

If you are perfect, then you don’t have to read this today. If you are a flawed failure like me, you can keep reading. The good news is that you are just who God is looking for to use. He rarely picks anyone perfect to carry out His plan. If you look at the list of people God has used to do great things through, it’s full of flawed failures. It’s full of people who you probably wouldn’t want to work with.

Moses knew his own flaws and tried to use them as an excuse to not do what God was asking him to do. He stuttered. He murdered. He ran away. He was orphaned as a baby. He had excuses. God sees our excuses as opportunities to connect with others. He sees our flaws as ways to build dependence on Him. He’s ok with you not measuring up to what you think He wants. You actually have what He wants. That’s why He chose you to do His will.

Each of us have a purpose to fulfill. God has a desire to use you despite your flaws and excuses. He has a purpose for your life that only you can fulfill. God is not concerned with your past if you’ve gone to Him for forgiveness. He’s taken your past into account when He planned your future. He knew the struggles you were going to face. He knew where and how you were going to fail and still planned to use you. It’s hard for us to understand because what disqualifies us humanly somehow qualifies us spiritually.

God’s ways are higher than our ways. What we consider wise is foolishness to Him. When we point to the scars, disappointment, failures and sin, He points to the cross. It’s in our weakness that He can truly work. If we rely on our strengths and abilities, we get in His way. When we think we can’t or shouldn’t be used by Him, we are ready to be used by Him. If we had the ability to do it on our own, we wouldn’t rely on Him.

Look at Gideon. When he was approached by the angel, he was greeted with, “The Lord is with you, mighty man of God.” He had strength to accomplish what God wanted. He had the ability and the man power to do it. God took those things away from him so that he would not be able to say it was his ability that defeated the enemy. It could only be The Lord that allowed 300 men to defeat an entire army.

God can and will use our strengths, but He’s really interested in our flaws and failures. He uses those to bring healing to others and to show them that He can use them too. Be open about your past. Tell others about your scars. Your story (testimony) brings hope and healing to others. When you hide who you were, you hide the grace that God bestowed on you. Others need to see that God can forgive a past that’s dark and full of sin. Others need to see that God can use someone as flawed as you.

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