In this new year, how do you measure success? Do you measure success by your position? Your salary? Your home? Your relationships? The road to success is paved with many ups and downs. Some of those downs might be perceived as failures, but your attitude toward any failure can certainly influence your ultimate success.
What happens when you don’t meet your own expectations or the expectations of someone else? What happens when you fall short?
C. S. Lewis once said that when Satan is able to turn a Christian’s focus to their failures, he (Satan) has won the battle. The enemy knows you can be defeated when failure controls your mind.
However, the Bible tells us in 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT) … “God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Our thoughts must align with what God says is true—not the crippling lies of Satan. Let me share with you a few crippling thoughts that could defeat you, along with historical examples of people who were originally thought of as failures, yet today are heralded as extraordinary.
Fear of Ridicule:
“If I fail, they’ll make fun of me.”—People laughed at Robert Fulton’s strange, smoking craft as it chugged down the river, yet Fulton’s Folly became the first successful steamboat in 1807.
“I told you I would blow it.”—Henry Ford forgot to include a reverse gear in the first car he invented and marketed.
Against Change and Innovation:
“We’ve never done it that way. It won’t work!”—The Wright brothers first offered their flying machine to the United States government, but were not taken seriously. A few years later, they signed a contract with the U.S. Department of War for the first military airplane.
Lack of Confidence:
“I don’t think I can do it.”—Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, but he also hit 714 home runs.
Lack of Conviction:
“It really doesn’t matter that much.”—Thomas Edison had over 5,000 failures before he had the right combination for the light bulb.
Not Trusting in God’s Provision:
“I really don’t have what it takes.”—When the great pianist Ignacy Jan Paderewski first chose to study the piano, his music teacher told him his hands were much too small to master the keyboard.
Many spend their lives climbing the ladder of success only to find the ladder leaning against the wrong wall! Has that ever happened to you? There’s a ladder that leads to true success—spiritual success—which reaches every area of your life. To climb this ladder, here’s what to do …
Rungs on the Ladder to Success
- Return to your “first love.”
Let your relationship with the Lord grow deeper. (Revelation 2:4)
- Recall your failures.
Evaluate areas in which you were wrong. (Revelation 2:5)
- Repent with a changed heart.
Experience godly sorrow that leads to deeper growth. (2 Corinthians 7:10)
- Receive God’s forgiveness.
Freedom is found in accepting forgiveness. (Psalm 32:1–2)
- Remember God’s sovereignty.
God is aware of all that happens to you, and He can lift you up out of any situation. (Psalm 75:7)
- Recognize God’s purpose.
God uses trials to grow your faith and to conform you to the character of Christ. (Romans 8:28–29)
- Respond correctly to brokenness.
God responds to a humble heart. (Psalm 51:17)
- Realize your need for Christ.
Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing of value. (John 15:5)
- Refuse to quit.
A correct response to failure builds endurance. (Philippians 3:13–14)
- Reach out to comfort others.
Help others see failure from God’s perspective. (2 Corinthians 1:3–4)
Remember, just because you fail doesn’t mean you’re a failure. When Thomas Edison sought to invent natural rubber, he completed 50,000 experiments and ended with 50,000 failures. An assistant said to him, “Mr. Edison, we have made 50,000 experiments, and we have no results.” Edison replied, “No results! We have wonderful results. We now know 50,000 things which won’t work.”
Success and failure go hand in hand. No one fails all the time, and no one succeeds all the time. We learn how to succeed through our failures. Remember that God can pick us up when we fall. Don’t live for the appreciation and applause of others. Don’t lean your ladder against a wall of worldly success. Instead, lean your ladder on the Lord and you’ll never be a failure.
Remember, in God’s eyes, no one who is faithful to Him is ever a failure. The world honors success; the Lord honors faithfulness
Yours in the Lord’s hope,
If you’re on Facebook, I invite you to connect with me at Facebook.com/June.Hunt.Hope. And if you’re not, take it from me: You’re never too old to start! See you there!