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How to Grow, through Personal Failures

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5 min read

Talking about personal failures is a very difficult subject… its personal, sensitive, highly emotional, especially where some failures have resulted in huge disruptions in family living arrangements and conditions; poor self esteem, lack of confidence, ineffective earning potential and even negative impacts on friendships. But to not discuss ways to deal with personal failures would be to bury our heads and ‘hope the problem away’. Pretending that its one of those things…just get on with it. The stigma and personal guilt can sometimes feel worse than the actual failure. But, as with all things in God’s kingdom, there’s good news… joy comes in the morning!!

All failures find their roots in decisions. We made decisions that led to or contributed to the failures. Tough I know. But let’s start with the most difficult things, acknowledging our part. But failures are not bad things, they are high value experiences, that we need to share rather than hide away in shame.

Why share a failure?

To help others off course, so that they don’t have to make the same mistakes while making the same or similar decisions. However, all to often we discourage people from taking a particular path, and instead of pointing out the risks of a particular decision or way of thinking we dissuade them completely. This is also not very helpful.

Failures can sometimes be down to one major high risky decision, other times, its a catalogue of decisions. At age 23, I helped a friend raise finance for his business in an entertainment sector about to boom. Once he got the money he bought a new car and blew the rest on electronics and his lifestyle. Needless to say the business collapsed in months. This one is clear cut as to why the business failed, but other times its not easy to put your finger on any one decision and say, that’s why it all went wrong. For example when the financial bubble burst and interest rates went up, a few friends I knew holding property portfolios with high interest rates on buy-to-let mortgage’s, suffered as rents failed to cover monthly repayments. One friend got so badly affected, he sold his portfolio…making a huge loss in the process. His family experienced disruption on a grand scale. But that didn’t keep him down, he was back on the investment path, armed with valuable knowledge on interest rate risks and a determination to get his next investments right.

If you have ever suffered a significant failure or even a small one, you will understand first-hand the emotions and subsequent fear that can define future decisions. We question ourselves about everything. Those around us question also…sometimes in ways that suggest…I don’t trust you any more. It’s almost like we never had a vision, never knew our bearings, never had a plan, never had any successes along our journey, its like this one-event now characterises our entire life.

The opposite is true, joy comes in the morning.

Shared failure-stories are rare but valuable commodities that can last for all eternity. Remember “Peter-gate” – the denial of Jesus. Imagine, God has allowed every believer who hears the Gospel to hear about Peter’ failure. From a human perspective, why does God do this to Peter? That seems hard. From a spiritual perspective, isn’t it good to know a failure can be empowering? When Jesus met Peter again, there was no demotion, rather there was promotion. Promotion after a failure!! We know however that with men the situation is a little different, well a lot different. Men are forgiving of their own mistakes but totally unforgiving of the mistakes of others. So don’t worry with man’s lack of forgiveness, instead just think, with God, your joy is guaranteed.

Its refreshing to hear leaders in all walks of life, but especially the church admit to making mistakes whilst being a Christian, yes. Many more still don’t…but they’re getting there slowly. Show me a human with no mistakes, there’s a human with an ever growing nose!!

A mistake as King David saw it, isn’t reason to rise up against another. Some people (arrogant ones) believe a mistake is the sign of poor judgement, that may be true, however they aim to use that knowledge of your mistake as justification for their aggressive stance and actions against you. Reject that approach. Our mistakes are different and have different impacts from a human perspective. But remember, if a mistake breaks even one law, the bible says actually “the whole law” has been broken, and the reward is the same…death. But thank God for Jesus Christ that through Him no one need die for their mistakes (sins).

So while its difficult, resist any pressure from men, as a result of one or a few failures. Be like Peter, Paul (Saul) and doubting Thomas, stand up in confidence and get the job done, you don’t have to ask for permission, and walking around with a long face is just pride at work. Never again should you be afraid to quote your own mistake as a lesson learned, never again allow mistakes to have power over you.

A mistake has no power, so go Live.

Be Encouraged

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