The Role of Failure

June 8, 2015


We usually trust God as a last resort. We try everything else first, at least this has been my experience. God loves us so much that He will do anything to draw us into an intimate, trusting relationship with him. For most of us, failure is the factor that God has to use to get our attention. Failure isn’t the problem—it’s how we interpret it.

We all internalize messages we receive from our parents and siblings. These messages might be very positive, such as:

  • I love you!
  • You are terrific!
  • You have great strengths! You are awesome!
  • I believe in you!
  • Failure is no big deal. Keep going. You’ll get where you need to go.

But sometimes the messages might be negative or conditional:

  • I can’t believe you are so dumb!
  • You can’t do anything right.
  • You’d better not mess up again!
  • They might never provide you a with a word of encouragement only words of correction when you do something wrong.
  • I love you if. . . .

If we interpret failure as a colossal statement about our identity, we will react (or overreact) to it in any of several ways, including:

  • Denial: “What failure? It didn’t happen.”
  • Minimize: “Oh, that’s no big deal. Who cares?”
  • Make excuses: “Hey, I couldn’t help it. Give me a break.”
  • Blame others: “It wouldn’t have happened if Katie hadn’t messed up. It’s her fault.”
  • Withdrawal: We avoid interaction with those who know or who might bring up our failures.
  • Driven: Instead of wilting and withdrawing when we fail, some of us feel compelled to prove ourselves.
  • Learned helplessness: Some of us have internalized the message, “You’re incompetent! You can’t do anything!” And we’ve quit trying.
  • Hurt people hurt people: Those who are victims of failed relationships become the victimizers of others.
  • Spiritualize: Instead of embracing the reality of failure and learning from it, we hide behind a superficial spirituality and say, “It doesn’t matter. In Christ, it doesn’t really hurt at all.”

Maybe, just maybe, God is calling you to get onboard with the plan He has for your life! Click here to learn more about what is involved in having your LifePlan conducted.

Interested in talking with Virgil about coaching, consulting, training or speaking with your leaders? Contact him at

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