Is Failure Always Bad?

by Christine Sine
one way?

one way?

This morning I had hoped that we would have good news to share about a potential grant for the Cascadia project. Unfortunately that is not so. Our grant application was rejected and so we are in re-imagining mode. Is this really bad news though?

Not surprisingly, this morning I have been thinking about failure and the number of articles I have read over the last few months that suggest it is actually good for us.

in today’s post-recession economy, some employers are no longer shying away from failure—they’re embracing it. According to a recent article in BusinessWeek, many companies are deliberately seeking out those with track records reflecting both failure and success, believing that those who have been in the trenches, survived battle and come out on the other side have irreplaceable experience and perseverance. They’re veterans of failure. Read the entire article

Another article on Seven Reasons Why Failure is a Good Thing suggested that failure has many positive benefits. It helps us learn, grow, become resilient, create new opportunities and in long run succeed.

Failure to get the results you wanted is not a negative thing; it is simply an opportunity to try a different method. It is also the opportunity to start again….. Fail fast and recover quickly to try again. Use every failure as an opportunity to learn and to grow as a person. Remember that every failure is like one step on the stairway to success. Above all else, remember this: If you never fail, you will never succeed. Read this article

What I don’t like in these articles is the implication that worldly success is the goal towards which we are moving and God’s successes I am aware often look very different from the world’s successes. Reading the Bible encourages me to think that God sees what we think of as failure in very different terms too. Most people in Jesus time would have thought that his life ended in failure. He had the most successful healing ministry in the history of the world yet deliberately turned his back on it to walk towards Jerusalem and the cross. The moment he did that people started to turn away. Even his closest disciples could not understand that the Cross was the greatest success in human history.

I often think that when everything is going well for us we are tempted consciously or unconsciously to rely on ourselves and not on God. When things don’t turn out the way we hope it sends us back to our knees to pray, to discern and to seek the loving heart of God. So this morning that is where I am at, seeking above all to sit in that place where God’s love flows in, over and around me. So I thought that I would end with this quote from Elaine Heath’s The Mystic Way of Evangelism, which has given me great encouragement as I pray

The minister of the future, Nouwen wrote, must be a mystic, one “whose identity is deeply rooted in God’s first love.” Those who would lead us through the night must be schooled in contemplative prayer., for they can give only what they have received. Coming home to God’s first love, they will come home to their true selves. Then they will know how to lead us toward heaven and will help us see how to live so that God’s will “is done on earth as it is in heaven.”  The call to give ourselves in ministry is first and always a call to come home to love.” (p83)

So please pray with us that in place of God’s love and kindness we will discern God’s way forward.

You may also like


Coe Hutchison May 18, 2012 - 9:32 am

Christine: I am so sorry to hear about the grant decision. But my thoughts this week have been along the same lines as yours however from a slightly different angle. I have been asking the question, “Is the situation I find myself in really an interruption or is it an intervention?” Is it a failure or an interruption in my plan for my life? Or is it really God intervening in my fast-moving, self-planned life, in order to teach me, correct me, bless me, turn me, repent me, love me, guide me and to give me true life? I have to slow down enough to look for and see God in the current situation instead of always wishing and even praying for a different situation or outcome or day. So that is the way I am trying to live. I am praying for all of you and God’s direction. God bless you.

Christine Sine May 18, 2012 - 9:44 am

Coe, I am constantly learning about the need to slow down and listen – can’t say that I always do real well at it though which is why I am constantly learning!!! You are so right. I suspect that God is often sit back there saying OK I will be patient until you really turn to me to discern the way forward.

Joanie H May 18, 2012 - 1:40 pm

I am extremely humbled by God’s amazing timing for this post. Although I am truly saddened to hear about the grant rejection, your post was an “encouraging” word that I desperately needed to hear. Today. Thank you for helping me to “adjust my glasses” that I might see more clearly and be reminded that this journey is about seeking Him first, following His path and knowing that His plan will unfold in my life in His timing and for His purposes. Failure. How I loathe that word. It is my Goliath, but I have One who is able to do ALL things. ~ even failure. Time to stop, be still and seek His next steps.

Christine Sine May 18, 2012 - 3:12 pm

Thanks Joanie for your comments. I am slowly learning how often we need to adjust our glasses as you so aptly put it to be more in sync with God’s perspective

Leave a Comment