October 19, 2016
Our culture places so much emphasis on success that we can easily forget the value of failure. The reality is that many people find it difficult to even talk about failure. We are a success-focused society.
Success is a good thing. We should give our best energy to whatever task or opportunity we pursue. When we do this, it is possible to finish last in a race and still know that we succeeded in doing our best. We may have failed to win the trophy, but we enjoyed the personal satisfaction of being all we could be.
Failure succeeds when we are honest and vulnerable in sharing our story. Sometimes people learn more from our failures than our successes, because now they know to do something different than we did. It can be helpful to share a financial plan that worked well for us, but it might be even better to admit the consequences of one that did not work at all.
Good parenting involves continual teaching – in words and actions. And because parents are not perfect, it is important to admit our failures. Our children will benefit if they pay attention to our mistakes and learn from how we handle them.
I found benefit in reading about a concept called “failing forward.” The idea is to see failure as an opportunity to grow and learn rather than a defeat that limits our ability to try again. The Bible is filled with examples of people who “failed forward.” One that really stands out is Peter. He seemed to be an expert at saying things that got him into trouble, but he kept trying. Eventually, we see him as a powerful speaker, leader and faithful follower of Jesus.
I am not encouraging people to fail – many of us are doing enough of that already. But I want to see people “fail forward.” When we can admit our failures but keep moving ahead, everyone benefits and God is honored. He is good at turning our failures into successes.
Pastor Bill Ehmann