Is failure inevitable?
I think it is. At certain points in our lives we will fall short. We do have to accept that while it’s something we should always avoid, it is an ingredient to success. It is in learning from it that we grow strong and wise. Morihei Ueshiba, founder of the martial art Aikido said:
“Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.”
I am reminded by the apostles who failed Jesus. Here are two of them: Peter and Judas. One was a traitor, the other denied Jesus (and Jesus heard it and looked at him). Their main difference was in understanding the mercy of God. Judas hanged himself, thinking that what he did was unforgivable; he lost hope.
While Peter was restored in Christ; having encountered the risen Jesus, he was asked three times, “Peter, do you love me?” Peter professed his love thrice also, to match the three times that he denied Christ. Peter although filled with guilt, understood the mercy of Jesus. As we all know, Peter is the first Pope. From having no hope, to becoming Pope.
What does this teach us? We may fail, at work or at home, but we do not lose hope — we rely on God’s mercy to lift us up and achieve heights for the path we’ve chosen. Henry Ford said:
“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
Let us derive three things that will help us understand failure “more intelligently”:
1. Failure is a temporary state.
Failure is not permanent, unless we make it so. We do our best to rise from it. Let it not become a place of comfort — some wallow in it. Get out of it, fast. Success is a day to day decision. In fact, success is about faithfulness.
2. Failure is a time to learn.
If we did our best, but still failed, then we learn from the experience. “What could have I done differently?” is a question to ponder.
If failure is a consequence of a sinful act (like cheating) or non-action (laziness), then we have to change our ways, and let the pain of failure teach us to straighten up.
3. Failure strengthens our character and will
The humility we experience in failure “grounds” us. We become more compassionate to those who struggle in life. At the same time, the strength of our will, becomes more resolved. Through experiences of failures, we will not be easily shaken.
Don’t lose hope. God looks upon us with mercy, and will lead us to rise and succeed. “We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8: 28).
Kirby is an author, motivational speaker, trainer, and songwriter. He wrote the book “The Fired Up Life: Passion Principles to Motivate You for Work and Life.” He finished his Masters of Arts in Theology at the San Carlos Seminary Graduate School of Theology in March 2016 and currently pursuing a Doctorate degree in Ateneo de Manila. He was a full-time missionary of Couples for Christ for 16 years and currently the owner of Uplift Learning Enterprise, a training and development company.