How to Fail Successfully

How to Fail Successfully

This morning, we celebrate Mother’s Day!  We cannot even begin to emphasize just how critically important mothers are to us.  To be completely honest, not a single one of us would be here without one!
I felt very strongly that the Lord gave me a message to share this morning on how to fail successfully.  When Becky reminded me that it was Mother’s Day, I figured that I should go a different route with the message.  After struggling to come up with another direction for things, I outright asked God why He wasn’t giving me a revelation or some insight for mother’s.  He said that He did and that moms feel like failures often.
Ladies, have you ever felt like a failure as a mom?
For sure!  Any mom who wants the absolute best for their children has had those moments when they just want to throw their arms up and give up.  They have those moments when they observe their children and feel like complete failures.  In fact, some of you may have felt that way just a few hours ago trying to get everyone rounded up and ready to come to church.
This morning, God is reminding us of His truth, however.  Just because we fail does not mean that we are failures!  If we leave this place remembering only one thing, remember this truth.  Just because we fail does not mean that we are failures!  As James 3:2 reminds us, we all stumble in many ways.  Although we may stumble and fall, it’s not over yet!  Though this page in our life may not be our proudest, we daily have the opportunity to start afresh!  Our failures of yesterday do not have to define who we are today!
You may be thinking to yourself that you have certainly failed as a mother.  Your children are grown and their lives are a mess.  Well, have you ceased to be their mother?  Do you not still have the opportunity to be the godly mother that you always wished you would have been?  Has God forgotten how to bring beauty from ashes?  Is anything too hard for our God?  Until we’re taken from this earth, we have not completely failed yet!
Remember this awesome, Biblical truth regarding Timothy’s faith.  His faith was not a generational blessing passed along from his father and grandfather.  It was from the Godly women in his life!
2 Timothy 1:5
I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
There is something powerful about a faithful, Spirit-filled grandma!  How many prayer warrior grandmas do we have here this morning?  Yes!  Although you may have made your share of mistakes as a mother initially, now your children and grandchildren can learn from those mistakes and be richly blessed by your faith.  Love on those kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids and pass along your faith to them.  God’s certainly not finished yet!
This morning, there is very good news for us all, especially mothers, who may feel like failures.
As a follower of Jesus, failure is always an option.  He is not offended by our failures, He is not intimidated by them, He does not bow His head in shame of us because of them.  God is never surprised when we fail, He actually expects it!  The very fact that we choose to put our faith in Jesus begins with a confession that we have failed Him and desperately need Him to forgive our failure and to help us to be successful.  If you do not love your children any less when they fail us, then why would we believe for even a second that God’s love is somehow lessened toward us when we fail?
Failure is more than an option, failure is a reality.  Righteousness is not always defined by the lack of failure, but actually is defined by perseverance; the absolute refusal to give up.

Proverbs 24:15-16 (MSG)
Don’t interfere with good people’s lives;
don’t try to get the best of them.
No matter how many times you trip them up,
God-loyal people don’t stay down long;
Soon they’re up on their feet,
while the wicked end up flat on their faces.

Women, and mother’s especially, have this amazing ability to persevere.  It seems that no matter what life throws their way, they are able to gracefully roll with it, get back up, and keep moving forward.  It’s no wonder that women were created with this awesome ability, though.  They have to deal with us guys.  I’m not sure if you’ve ever heard the story of the wife that just keeps nagging her husband about finishing his projects around the house.  The husband responds, “Listen, I said I would finish it and I will finish it.  You don’t have to keep reminding me every six months!”
The truth is that God measures success and failure much, much differently than we do.  We view success as goals being set, then neatly and orderly being accomplished.  We are very results-driven and motivated.  God, however, is far more concerned about what happens within us than what we actually accomplish.  He is more concerned about who we are than what we do.  Think of men like Joseph, David, and John the Baptist; women like Eve, Sarah, Esther, Rahab, and Hagar.  They were complete and utter failures at many points in their lives by worldly standards.  However, God enabled them to be tremendously successful!  They faced struggles, they felt the weight of shame and failure, yet they became the awesome successes that God considers them to be.

Who we are is actually molded and shaped far more often by the Holy Spirit through what we would view as times of utter failure than when we think we successfully accomplished something.  It is actually through failure that we learn the most and grow the most.  James wrote it this way:

James 1:2-4 (MSG)
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.

Now, does this mean that we should intentionally set ourselves up to fail so that we can grow? No, by no means!  That is foolishness!  However, a lesson taught is soon forgot; a lesson lived is wisdom gived.

The Roman church was using this same wrong mindset and logic and were rebuked for it.  They believed that they could keep on sinning to receive more of God’s grace.

Romans 6:1‭-‬2‭, ‬16 NLT
Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it?
Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.

Although we do not intentionally do so, it is still a reality that we will all will fail.  So, how do we fail successfully?

1. Admit it

This is often the most difficult step to take.  If you’re like me, it’s easy to admit that we failed, but it is difficult to man or woman up and accept that responsibility.  Our sinful, fleshy selves like to find a scapegoat to pin it onto so that we’re not fully responsible when we fail.  Yes, it is a wise and critically important thing to look back and to figure out where things went wrong.  However, we do so only for a short season, we do not camp out in the past.  Also, if we do so with the intent to learn from our failure as to not repeat it.  If we plan to analyze our failure with the motive and intent of passing the buck to someone or something else, then we need to tear off that rear view mirror and press onward.  We must admit that we’ve failed with all excuses aside!
Over and over and over again throughout the pages of scripture, we are reminded of the critical importance of confession.  God was often quoted in the Old Testament saying, “If they will confess their sins…” that He would come rushing in to save the day and make everything right.  The disciple’s prayer that Jesus taught us to pray includes the confession of our sin.  Paul taught us to confess or sins to one another and to pray for each other.  John reminded us:
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Healing and restoration begins the moment that we choose to admit our failures, accepting full responsibility for them.
2. Ask God’s forgiveness and forgive yourself
As we just read from 1 John 1:9, we must then seek out God’s forgiveness.  Yes, the blood of Jesus was shed for all sins past, present, and future.  However, we must still seek out His forgiveness in order for that blood to be applied.  In Leviticus chapter 5, there was a prescribed a guilt offering that those who sinned, but had not realized that they done so, so that they would not be held responsible for this unintentional wrongdoing.  If this was a foreshadowing, then even now we should pray and also seek forgiveness for all of our failures, even if they are unintentional.
God is quick to forgive!  As soon as we ask His forgiveness, it is forgiven.  Our sins are as far as the east is from the west, as far as the depths of the ocean floor.  Forgiving ourself, however, can be even more difficult.  Although we are forgiven, we are still left with the scars and reminders of failures.  God intentionally leaves behind consequences of our sin to lovingly discipline us and to teach and remind us not to repeat the same failure over again.  What God intended for good, our enemy uses for evil.  Satan loves to remind us of our past failures to condemn us.  Remember what Romans chapter 8 declares, however, that there is NOW (when? NOW!) NO condemnation for those who are Christ Jesus.  Ignore the devil’s accusations and he’ll flee.  You are forgiven and free!  If Jesus has forgiven you, then please, please, please: forgive yourself!
3. Dare to hope!
Until the Lord calls us home, our story has not yet reached it’s ending.  No matter how many times we fail, still God’s mercy remains!
Lamentations 3:19-23 (NLT)
19 The thought of my suffering and homelessness (or wandering)
  is bitter beyond words.
20 I will never forget this awful time,
  as I grieve over my loss.
21 Yet I still dare to hope (YES!!!  DARE TO HOPE!!!  WHY?)
  when I remember this:
22 The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
  His mercies never cease.
23 Great is his faithfulness;
  his mercies begin afresh each morning.
God’s faithfulness will ALWAYS be greater than your failure!  God’s love will always be greater than our apathy!  God’s mercies are new every single morning!  This is why we dare to hope.  Even when we are suffering and wondering, even when our circumstances are bitter beyond words, even when we believe that we will never get through this awful time, we can still dare to hope.  This rings true even when our own poor choices and failures have placed us into these difficult seasons of life.  We can still dare to hope, we can still crawl back up and stand firmly on God’s word and promises.  Even when we have failed Him, never, ever will He fail us!  King David writes it well in the Psalm he wrote here:
Psalm 40:1-3
1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
  he turned to me and heard my cry.
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
  out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
  and gave me a firm place to stand.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
  a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
  and put their trust in him.
4. Learn from it!
Yes, we’ve failed.  Our future, however, can either be defined by or improved by our failures.  The choice is ours.  Paul wrote:
Philippians 3:12-16 (NLT)
12 I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. 13 No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.  15 Let all who are spiritually mature agree on these things. If you disagree on some point, I believe God will make it plain to you. 16 But we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
We mustn’t allow failure to erase forward progress, but rather, serve as a stepping stone toward even greater progress!  No, we’re not perfect, but we press onward to possess that perfection for which Jesus posses us.  We choose not to live in the past, but to learn from the past.  After all, it’s been said that those who do not know their history are doomed to make it’s same mistakes.
If we fail, we’ve made a mistake.  If we repeat that same mistake again, it was not actually a mistake, but rather a choice that we have made.  Unless we enjoy lives of hardship, trouble, and pain; unless we intend to be failures, we cannot continue to intentionally set ourselves up to fail.  We must make the choice to learn from our past and enter into a successful future, walking in God’s freedom, blessing, and prosperity!
Yes, we will fail, but we can choose to fail successfully.  We can admit and confess our failure, seek God’s forgiveness and forgive ourselves, learn from our failure, and proceed forward into God’s plans, purposes, and hope-filled future for us!
Mothers, we love you, we’re eternally grateful for you, and we want to remind you that you are not a failure!  Dare to hope and always fail successfully!