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How to Grow Past Your Failures

When you give up too soon

Many times, success is just around the corner. The Prophet Daniel tells of a time when he prayed for days and days, never getting an answer to his requests before God. Then one day, in a vision, he sees a mighty angel.

“Do not be afraid, Daniel,” said the angel. “Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.”

Although God heard Daniel’s prayer and dispatched an angel immediately, that angel was delayed 21 days due to a great spiritual battle: “Now I have come to explain to you what will happen to your people in the future, for the vision concerns a time yet to come” (Daniel 10:12-14, NIV).

I’ve often thought, What would have happened if Daniel had stopped praying on the 10th day, or the 15th or the 20th?

We must always remember—the game is often won in the final seconds. If at first you don’t succeed—you’re normal! Keep on keeping on!

When you ignore God’s advice

The Bible is the owner’s manual on life. It’s filled with practical instructions and guidelines for work, home, finances, relationships and health. When we fail to follow these directions from God, we’re only asking for trouble. How many times have you run face first into failure simply because you ignored the Word of God? “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12, NIV).

If you’ve experienced failure in your ministry, here are some steps for starting over:

Accept responsibility for your own failure

If you’ve made a mistake—admit it! Welcome to the human race and don’t blame others. To blame is to “be-lame.” Losers love to blame—the economy, the boss, their spouse, their congregation, their deacons or even God for their misfortune. Taking responsibility frees you from a defensive posture and gives you the clear-headed vision necessary to determine what went wrong.

Back in 1974, the UCLA basketball team had an 88-game winning streak, and was leading Notre Dame in the 89th game by 11 points. But then they lost.

The headline on the next day read, “Coach Wooden says ‘Blame me!’”

Wooden was a winner; winners never blame others for a failure, and they never make excuses. “A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance” (Proverbs 28:13, LB).

Recognize the benefits of failure

Thomas Edison, commenting on one of his many failed experiments, said, “Don’t call it a failure. Call it an education!” At the very least, failure shows you what doesn’t work.

Failure forces you to be more creative; you look for new ways to do things.

Failure prevents arrogance and egotism. If everything you did was a stunning success, no one could live with you!

Failure causes you to re-evaluate what’s important in life. Failure is one way God gets us to reflect on the direction of our lives.

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Dr. Rick Warren is passionate about attacking what he calls the five “Global Goliaths” – spiritual emptiness, egocentric leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease, and illiteracy/poor education. His goal is a second Reformation by restoring responsibility in people, credibility in churches, and civility in culture. He is a pastor, global strategist, theologian, and philanthropist. He’s been often named "America's most influential spiritual leader" and “America’s Pastor.