I was featured recently on a pretty popular parenting blog. Once I submitted my article they requested a short bio that would be included at the end of the article.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had to write about yourself, but if you have, you know how exhilarating it is….I say all of this in my most sarcastic voice.

It’s hard work to boil who you are down to three sentences. You need to include who you are, where you live, and then list one or two accomplishments. As I was writing my bio, my brain was trying to rack up all sorts of my achievements to list without sounding like I’m full of myself. 

The cursor on my Evernote moved forward as my fingers typed out random results.

“Chris has ridden across the country on his bicycle”…I’ll just leave out the part where I separated my shoulder and collarbone and had to sit out for a week.

“Chris has been an entrepreneur for over ten years”…I’ll skip the entire part of my story where I was hired as a creative director only to be let go two weeks later because the company didn’t have the budget to keep me.

“Chris has designed for hundreds of churches and church plants all around the world”…I’ll leave out the one time I misspelled a church’s name on all their print items and had to pay over $700 to have them reprinted.

After much time, I was finally pleased with what I had chosen to leave in that brief bio. However, that’s when I felt the familiar deep, dark lie weasel its way into my soul.

It’s easy to start believing this highlight reel (a.k.a. my brief bio) is a realistic snapshot of my life thus far. That the parts I left out didn’t actually happen and that my life has just been an incredible streak of good luck and talent.

We all know that’s a lie.

It’s easy to fall into that trap of wanting to forget your failures. I’m going to go ahead and say that I—we–need to rebuke that type of thinking right now.

I want to embrace my failures.

If I’m honest with myself, the times that I have been successful are because of my ability to fail and move forward. Without failure, we wouldn’t know what success looks like.  None of us want to fail though, do we? We don’t like to walk around and gloat about that time we lost all of our money on an investment, or the time when our boss fired us for being incompetent. We leave these portions of our story out because we want people to hear an untainted version of who we aspire to be.

Why would we want people to know our failures?

I would argue that people need to hear about our failures. We should tell people of our failures so that it may give glory to the narrative of resurrection.

Failure brings to light that God can raise to life again what once was dead.

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What does scripture say about failure?

“Mortals, born of woman, are of few days and full of trouble.”
Job 14:1

“I’m glad in God, far happier than you would ever guess—happy that you’re again showing such strong concern for me. Not that you ever quit praying and thinking about me. You just had no chance to show it. Actually, I don’t have a sense of needing anything personally. I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. I don’t mean that your help didn’t mean a lot to me—it did. It was a beautiful thing that you came alongside me in my troubles.”
Philippians 4:11-14

Scripture is chalk full of failures. Let’s be sure to understand this. I could read scripture after scripture of Biblical heroes who have failed. In fact, let’s go through that list.

  • Abraham should have stayed in the land and trusted the Lord; he fled to Egypt because of the drought.(This wasn’t Abraham’s only mistake, but we have a list to get through.)
  • Moses was trying to help his people but ended up killing an Egyptian.  Later, against the command of God, he struck the rock in his anger.
  • David should have been out in battle with his men. Instead, he stayed home and committed adultery with Bathsheba and then plotted the murder of her husband.
  • Peter, who was pretty full of himself, denied the Lord, as did the rest of the disciples who fled before the evening our Lord’s arrest was over.

Everyone fails.

We need to accept our failures. When we try to hide our shortcomings and failures we don’t experience God’s acceptance.

Rennan Manning says it best in The Ragamuffin Gospel,

“In Sunday worship, as in every dimension of our existence, many of us pretend to believe we are sinners. Consequently, all we can do is pretend to believe we have been forgiven.”

God has this incredible catalog of our past mistakes. We fail often. He, however, doesn’t remember us for that. Going back to the verse in Philippians,  “Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.” I am so appreciative of a God who loves me for who I am and for who I am becoming, rather than a God who holds my past transgressions above my head.

The Application

Mark Patterson, pastor of National Community Church in Washington D.C. and founder of Ebenezer’s (one of my favorite coffee shops) defines failure in an eloquent way.

“When I’m going through a tough time emotionally or relationally or spiritually, I figure I’m getting an education in those areas. When it gets really tough, I think of it as graduate work. Everyone and everything become part of my education. God redeems them and uses them to shape me into the person He wants me to become.”

So what happens when failure comes knocking on your door?

  1. Own it.

Don’t hide behind your failure. Own it. Through the guilt, shame, fear, whatever it is you’re feeling, push it to the side. You made a mistake. You failed. That’s ok.

You know who else failed?

Warren Buffet was rejected by Harvard Business School. He could have taken that as a sign he wasn’t cut out for the business world, but he didn’t.

You are not the only one to fail, and you will not be the last.

  1. Get Feedback

Get honest feedback from your peers and advisors. Check your pride at the door and ask honestly what you can learn from this situation.

  1. Name the opportunity

Can an opportunity be created out of this? The people who made Play-Doh initially were marketing it as a wallpaper cleaner. It obviously didn’t work too well on walls, so they repackaged it and BAM. Play-Doh is born. I’m still not sure if you’re supposed to eat it, but it tasted good as a kid.

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Today, may you know that the God of the universe no longer keeps a catalog of your past failures. May you embrace your failures and not leave them out of your story. Embrace your failures into who they are shaping you to be.

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