If God Uses Our Failures, Shouldn't We?

Jun 24, 2010, Written by Sue Miley

Everyone hates to fail.

At the same time in one way or another we all do fail.  As a Christian business owner failure seems to taunt us from the sidelines the same way Satan tempted Eve in the garden and tried to tempt Jesus in the desert.  If we fail, not only will we have real worldly consequences of our defeat, we sometimes feel that we did not glorify God in our business.

What kind of city on a hill am I when my business shuts down?

If I am not successful it may send the message that running a business on Christian values just doesn’t work in this world.

And this train of thought begins to weaken the bonds of our faith as we contemplate:

How will I support my family if the business isn’t successful?

I can’t take that chance because if it fails I may have to lay off people or reduce salaries.

Soon our fear of failure has us avoiding perceived risk and creating limiting boundaries that many times lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Small failures begin to shrink the boundaries.  We are so consumed with the fear that this small failure could have been so much worse that we shut the initiative down.  We stick to the tried and true and we are inflexible to needed change to stay relevant in the market place.

Businesses don’t succeed without some experience in failure and a certain measure of risk.  How can we take our failures and use them to create success?

We have to analyze the failure to figure out what didn’t work.

I know it is painful and we want to block the whole thing out of our minds.  We don’t want to discuss our foolishness or lack of competency with others to get perspective and insight.  But we have to.  If we don’t want to let the failure have power over our future we need to glean from it the learning and wisdom that is available.

Was the plan wrong or did we just not execute fully?

Did we do great on the sales side but then not deliver on product or service quality?

Did we build it with hopes that “they would come” and not have a sales or marketing vehicle in place?

If you are honest with yourself the answers are there.  You will learn something from the failure.  Something you can use in the future.  Don’t let the failure be for nothing.  Get the valuable learning at least! 

We have to get back up and try again.

I have read so many stories about famous people who failed many times before they were successful.  Stephen King and JK Rowlings were rejected dozens of times before they were published.  Can you imagine if they had given up?

Mother Theresa was not granted permission to begin her ministry to minister to the sickest and poorest until several requests and many, many years.

If we look at Peter in the bible we see a man who learned from his mistakes.  Peter started out strong.  He got out of the boat and walked on water when Jesus called him.  (Matthew 14:27-30)  He even took the risk of boldly identifying Jesus as the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20).  Then he totally messes up and denies Jesus three times on the night of His arrest.  That was a huge lack of faith and fall from grace for Peter.  He miserably failed Jesus Christ directly.

Many of us would have gone off to hide after that.  Our shame and humiliation would have us go back to the fishing boat and live out our life in quiet desperation.

But not Peter.  He went on to do incredible things for Christ’s church.  He helped others to stay strong in their faith even in the face of persecution.  He saw first hand the risen Lord and knew the rewards of eternal life awaited him.  He boldly shared this with the early church.

We have to trust God and believe that His Holy Spirit will guide us.

As an entrepreneur it is already in our dna to control things.  But, we have to remember that if we panic in our failure and scramble to fix everything in our own strength, we are more likely to fail again.

Remember that our definition of failure is probably different than God’s.  He would care more about our character development than the worldly impact of the business failure.  Can we learn patience and trust?  Can we look to God in all of our ways, even in our business?

If the faith of a mustard seed can move mountains, what could it do in our business endeavors if we are aligned with God’s will and walking in the Spirit?

I know it is hard to embrace failure and I would be lying if I said I did this with a joyful heart.  But the alternative, to hide out and retreat after failure, is not an acceptable alternative for a believer.  If God is to work through us and if we are to make an impact for His Kingdom, we have to be available.  We have to be willing and obedient.  Whether in our personal life or business life, God can and will use us. 

Let’s take a lesson out of Peter’s book and remember that God gives us everything we need to succeed in life!

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.