Overcoming Failure, Part Two

Winston Churchill said,

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”


Some things in life are outrageously hard and overwhelmingly heavy. It takes patience, perseverance and a “dig-deep” commitment to never give up.

We reject failure by refusing to quit.

Some examples:

  1. Earning a degree when every part of life weighs you down.
  2. Pushing through when the odds are never in your favor. 
  3. Getting up and going on when overwhelming grief fills your soul. 
  4. Piling the sand bags higher because the water keeps rising.
  5. Remaining prayerful when it feels like God has forgotten you. 

Those are examples of not giving up, of choosing not to fail.

Gene Krantz, a NASA Flight Director, wrote a book called, “Failure Is Not An Option,” about the Apollo 13 moon mission that encountered complications and had to return in a crippled space craft. All odds were against them, it seemed hopeless. But it wasn’t. It wasn’t because failure wasn’t an option



Think of failure in one of two contexts:

  1. The failure we choose when we quit, give up, or give out, it’s our choice.
  2. The failure thrust upon us, beyond our control, outside of us, not our choice.

It’s not our choice when the treatments prove ineffective and cancer ends us. It’s not our choice when our spouse leaves and never returns. It’s not our choice when people pretend and hide who they are with devastating consequences. These aren’t about our failings, but the failings of others.

But once failure reaches into our lives we need to overcome it. 


Consider the Source: When failure comes try to determine its source. Is it failure you chose or did life choose it for you? It can be a tough thing to accept, but recognizing the nature of failure helps in overcoming it. 

Neither Final or Fatal: Can we accept that failure is neither final or fatal? There was a time when I believed I had failed. Nothing was going right and I seriously considered quitting ministry. But a mentor helped me to see that my problems and failures were temporary. If I dug deep, trusted and waited on God, things would turn around. Things did. Not quickly, but it happened. I realized that failing wasn’t final or fatal, and that it wouldn’t last forever. I could overcome failure, and I did!

Refocusing: One of the lessons about recovering from failure is the need to  refocus. It begins by asking: What have I learned? What insights have I gained? What goals do I have? What goals do I need to set? Where am I headed? Refocusing becomes a map to help you find the way out. Sometimes we overcome failure by looking for new success. 

Inspiration: Knowing about the failures and successes of others can be inspiring and strengthen our resolve. Looking to a higher source can lift us up and get us going. I’m reminded of Jesus. Some said the cross was his failure. Was it? Did Jesus fail? 

“Run with perseverance the race marked out, fixing your eyes on Jesus. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down on the right hand of God. Consider him who endured such opposition so you won’t grow weary and lose heart.” 

We can overcome failure, we don’t have to let it overcome us.


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