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Do you have the habit of failing forward?

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Do you have the habit of failing forward?

by Dave Havir
The writer pastors the Church of God Big Sandy
and is a regular columnist for The Journal.

BIG SANDY, Texas -- Recently I was preparing a sermon with the goal of helping people to deal with the mistakes in our lives.

The purpose of my sermon was to help my friends deal with failure. Sometimes the failure is sin. At other times the failure is only a mistake.

Sometimes believers have a problem thinking they are better than everyone else.

One bad side of religion tends to influence people to puff up their own actions and to view other sinners with contempt (read Luke 18:9-14).

At other times believers remain trapped in the quicksand of their own sins. They let failure stymie their growth.

All have sinned

Have you ever made a list of the sins committed by the people in the Bible who are described as faithful?

The list would be too long to print in this short article. Consider just a few.

  • Noah (who was previously saved from the Flood) got drunk (Genesis 9:21).

  • Abraham (who is lauded for his faith) laughed at God's words (Genesis 17:17).

  • Sarah (who is also listed in the faith chapter, Hebrews 11) later also laughed at God's words (Genesis 18:12). And then she denied laughing (verse 15).

And the list goes on and on.

I don't cite examples like these to encourage people to sin. But I do mention these examples to remind you that the pillars in the Bible were sinners -- just like me and you.

We realize that God expects us to repent. When we read John 8:11 we realize we should accept God's forgiveness and seek to change our behavior.

Helpful book

I found material in a book titled Failing Forward (copyright 2000) by author John C. Maxwell to be helpful in our efforts to change our behavior. I thought I would share some of the information with you.

Dr. Maxwell is founder of The Injoy Group, which is described as "organizations dedicated to helping people maximize their personal and leadership potential." Each year he speaks in person to more than 250,000 people. But he has influenced more than a million people through his tapes and books. He is the author of more than 20 books.

In the inside cover of Failing Forward Dr. Maxwell writes:

"I want to help you learn how to confidently look the prospect of failure in the eye and move forward anyway. Because, in life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you are going to deal with them. Stop failing backward and start failing forward!"

15 steps

Dr. Maxwell spends the rest of the book describing "15 steps to failing forward."

Here are the 15 steps.

  • Realize there is one major difference between average people and achieving people.

  • Learn a new definition of failure.

  • Remove the "you" from failure.

  • Take action and reduce your fear.

  • Change your response to failure by accepting responsibility.

  • Don't let failure from outside get inside you.

  • Say good-bye to yesterday.

  • Change yourself and your world changes.

  • Get over yourself and start giving yourself.

  • Find the benefit in every bad experience.

  • If at first you do succeed, try something harder.

  • Learn from a bad experience and make it a good experience.

  • Work on the weakness that weakens you.

  • Understand there's not much difference between failure and success.

  • Get up, get over it, get going.

I hope this list of steps interests you enough to influence you to buy or borrow Dr. Maxwell's book. His support information for these steps could help you fail forward.

Treasure in you

The beauty of being a believer is that we don't have to rely solely on valuable information we learn from others. We also have access to the great God of the universe.

We believe that our Father allows us to stumble and is ready with an outstretched hand to help us (Psalm 37:23-24).

We believe that we as believers may fall, but we have the opportunity to rise again (Proverbs 24:16).

And, if we believe that we have the power of God within us, we can accept Paul's description of life in 2 Corinthians 4:7-8.

He wrote: "We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed. We are perplexed, but not in despair. We are persecuted, but not forsaken. We are cast down, but not destroyed."

Good information and the power of God help us to deal with our sins and with our mistakes.

With God's help we can fail forward.


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