How to respond when life doesn't go as you hoped.
One of the hardest things to deal with in life is failure.
In this success-driven world, the idea of not succeeding seems almost impossible to handle.
Yet, strangely enough, failure can actually be positive. Failure makes us stronger, and brings us resilience. Failure helps us to be wiser, smarter and even more forgiving.
Yet, despite this, you’d think that in the business world, failure would be seen to be a negative thing. But interestingly enough, it’s actually the opposite that’s true.
The latest Harvard Business Review dedicates the whole issue to the topic of failure. On its cover it has a quote from a famous CEO who says “I think of my failures as a gift!”
In one of the featured articles it points out that venture capitalists (those entrepreneurs who invest money in start-up or struggling businesses), prefer to give their money to people who have already failed. They know their hard-earned cash is safest with someone who’s made a hard-earned lesson in life.
This reminds me of a story I heard about a person who lost a million dollars through a failed business decision. When it was suggested to the CEO that he sack this person who lost the million bucks, the CEO replied by saying, “Why should I sack him when we’ve just invested a million dollars in his training?”
The positive side of failure
Failure’s often a dirty word. But failure’s far more positive than we often paint it.
This is an important message for us. Our failures often cause us pain, regret and disappointment. Yet, failure is something that is normal, and something that is human.
This is something we’re reminded of in the first chapter of Isaiah. The Israelites had failed to follow God as was expected of them, and in turn, it would be easy to even think that this disobedience showed the failure of God, himself, to lead his own people with success.
Yet, in the midst of the litany of failures listed at the start of Isaiah, we read that God remarkably offers forgiveness to his people.
“Come now, let us reason together,” says the LORD. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool". (Isaiah 1:18)
The means by which he can offer this cleansing from their sin, ironically, is through another apparent failure—the death of his chosen servant, our Lord Jesus Christ. The apparent failure of Good Friday leads to the success shown at Easter Sunday.
If you feel like a failure...
If sometimes you feel like a failure, then remember that’s totally normal. As a Christian, you are part of a long heritage of failures.
Yet, through ‘failure’, God has provided forgiveness. And as fellow-failures, we too should offer forgiveness to other fellow-failures.
And, we should welcome failure as a most valuable teaching too, even though it can often be a most expensive lesson!