Failing Forward

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The American Dream. It’s often characterized by a big house, nice car, good-looking family and enough money to take lavish vacations and send our kids to top universities. So we work hard, hoping one day we can achieve all we desire and earn the respected title of–failure? I don’t think so.

No one likes to fail. But the truth is it happens. No matter how close your life may be to the manmade standard of the American Dream, you’ll encounter some type of failure along the way, and that’s okay. Our concern shouldn’t be with if we fail but rather how we fail.

Proverbs 24:16 says, “For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity.”

What is Solomon saying here? He’s saying that God doesn’t ask his people for perfection; He asks them for progress. Just think about all the great men and women God used in the Bible—David, Peter, Mary Magdalene. They all faced some type of disappointment on their way to success. But that success could only be obtained once they understood they weren’t a failure simply because they encountered one.

It reminds me of how my friend, Peter Daniels learned to face the fear of failure. Peter came from an underprivileged background with his parents living as third-generation welfare recipients. He failed every grade in school, leading him to become a drunken 26-year-old brick layer, in a seemingly impossible amount of debt. But after dedicating his life to the Lord, Peter knew God was calling him to something greater. In his heart, he knew God had called him to start a business.

Now, as all of you business owners know—that’s not as easy as it sounds. But Peter, determined to follow God, tried several times–16, to be exact. Each time he was met with failure. With bills to pay and mouths to feed, he wondered if he could sustain another letdown. Even his wife discouraged him. “Just lay bricks,” she’d say. “Just play it safe and quit trying.”

But Peter didn’t quit. He understood this principle that we should all strive to understand—the key to success isn’t to fear failure but to fail forward. It’s to learn from past mistakes and persevere through our stumbling until we stumble into the success God has called us to.

Sure, Peter could’ve given up. But if he would have, he’d be missing out on the amazing life he’s living today. As one of Australia’s wealthiest, most influential citizens, Peter is certainly living his dream.

So how can we do the same? How can we live out the dreams God’s calling us to in the midst of our failure? It starts with recognizing failure is necessary for progress. Then, it takes us keeping both faith and joy in the midst of life’s challenges. We’re not being

rejected

in our failure; we’re being

perfected

by God! We can rejoice in our stumble because we’re on our way to success!

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