Failure Can Lead to Success

It looked like Abraham Lincoln was a colossal failure:

  • Lost 8 elections
  • Failed in 2 businesses
  • Suffered a nervous breakdown which left him bedridden for 6 months

Finally, in 1860 Lincoln was elected president, and the rest—as they say—is history.

Michael Jordan said:

“I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I was trusted with the last shot and missed. I have failed over and over in my life—and that is why I succeed.”

The point is, whether it was Abraham Lincoln, Michael Jordan, Tom Smiley or you: people fail. However, what you do with that failure is what defines your future. Perhaps you have read about another colossal failure; it happened to a guy named Peter. We find the story of his failure in Matthew 26:33-35, 74-75:

Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!” Immediately a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.

Peter’s story is real. It is personal. Read through the Gospels and look for Peter’s story. It is the story of grace, love and renewal. Peter was enthusiastic, strong-willed, impulsive, and, at times, brash. But for all his strengths, Peter had a colossal failure.

The Key to Overcoming Failure, Guilt and Shame

Here is the 21st century application: What I do after a failure will define me and my future. Don’t allow past failures to disrupt God’s future plans for you. Philippians 3:12-14 says:

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Admit it
Hiding our mistakes or denying our failures never works. When Peter blew it, he knew instantly. He didn’t hesitate to admit it and make it right.

Forget it
Once you’ve admitted it, let it go. God doesn’t keep a list of things you’ve already been forgiven of and neither should you.

Get Back In It
Once you’re forgiven, it’s over.

The only way this strategy will work—admit it, forget it, get back in it—is to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. He is the power source for turning failure into success. Will you acknowledge Him today?

A New Year’s Prayer
Dear God, I have failed many times. Please grant me the courage and wisdom to admit my failures, forget my failures, and “get back in it.” Help me make it right with those I have wronged. Remind me that no failure is beyond your forgiveness. I want to live beyond fear of my failures. Thank You for hearing my prayer today in Jesus’ name.