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Failure is often a gift of God

As a younger man, I used to look at my failures and misinterpret what God was doing. When I was fired from my first job, I saw that as me failing – a demotion.   What I see in retrospect is that failure was God’s tool to move me to a posture of dependence. As long as I was in a posture …
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
As a younger man, I used to look at my failures and misinterpret what God was doing. When I was fired from my first job, I saw that as me failing – a demotion.
What I see in retrospect is that failure was God’s tool to move me to a posture of dependence. As long as I was in a posture of self-sufficiency, I wasn’t particularly useful. The Bible says, “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Heb. 11:6)
God had to pry me out of that place of competency and failure was his tool to do so.
The problem is that I misinterpreted failure as rejection. I
saw myself going backward when actually, God was promoting me. I had
bought into the American model of advancement, not God’s.
Three years went by and I had climbed back into that place of self-sufficiency again. It wasn’t that I was arrogant or haughty. I was just overly focused on efficiency and doing everything as quickly as possible. The ministry I was building was growing quickly, but was doing so in a messy way. I was putting my business school skills to work and missing the fact that people were burning out.
When my friend and ministry partner asked me to step down from my position, I didn’t see him as God’s tool. I didn’t see God giving my poor perspective a needed adjustment. I saw my own failure and misinterpreted it as rejection once again. We had four young children and Karen was pregnant with our fifth child. My role was to provide for them and all I could see is that I was performing poorly at that job.
It took a few years, but in that place of dependance, I learned to rely on God in a new way. Prayer became much more important. My faith grew and I actually had something of value to pass on to the young disciples God sent my way. It was in that place of failure that God birthed AIM and it was there that he birthed faith in me.
Why did it have to be so complicated? Why do we so easily miss what God is doing? Who knows, but let me encourage you to learn from my mistakes. Perhaps you have gone through hard times and wondered where God is. Have you felt like a failure in the process? If you’ve been operating out of a paradigm of self-sufficiency, it’s normal to feel that way.
What I learned during my season of failure is that God was giving me a gift – the gift of faith. I just couldn’t see it at the time. Take another look at what’s going on around you. God is at work.

Comments (16)

  • i so agree. i’m a failure at everything i’ve ever done…& i’ve done my very best,(which is to keep getting up, keep going, keep working…). our Lord showed me the revelation about failure being a gift many months ago…exactly when i needed it. this lovely word from my brother in Christ is sweet confirmation of God’s Love being so pure that we often misunderstand it. blessings,…marilyn in new york. on facebook as facebook.com/mhealer3

  • Amen – super word! The promise in Rom 8:28 is ALL GOOD ALL THE TIME – even in failure.
    I have long loved Brennan Manning’s quote that is closely related to what you’ve said here: “The dominant characteristic of an authentic spiritual life is the gratitude that flows from trust—not only for all the gifts that I receive from God, but gratitude for all the suffering. Because in that purifying experience, suffering has often been the shortest path to intimacy with God.”
    He stops short of actually calling it a gift – but in fact, it is. Amazing what this perspective shift does…

  • Definitely a good word, something I’ve seen God do in my own times of failure, but failure is never fatal, unless we lose sight of Him in it all.

  • I love that quote from Brennan Manning. If we’re really walking with God we’ll trust him enough to thank him for everything he brings our way.

  • Very good! I love Bill Johnson’s qoute – “God disciplins us so we can survive his blessing”!! Thanks Seth

  • Holy Spirit bumps:)So encouraging…definitely passing this one onto the hubby to share. Thanks pops!

  • Thank you – great encouragement in a time that feels very much like failure, but God keeps giving me glimpses of another way of seeing it, and this post is a glimpse đŸ™‚

  • What a crock of poop.. god didn’t create man… man created god.. get a grip dude you failed because you failed to do your job or some other reason.. and you had enough sense to keep trying ..and not throw your arms up as so many others would do.. not because of some invisible guy in the sky.. your life is in your control.. no one elses.. want me to prove it? get in a plane.. at about 12,ooo feet.. jump out and pray on the way down for a parachute and see what happens.. rest my case.

    • Not a crock at all. I’ve got actual proof and therefore hope. You on the other hand, not having experienced God’s reality, have to hide behind pseudonyms like “Hawk.” He is real – he made your mitochondria and the atoms, electrons and quarks that compose them.

  • Dear Hawk, Any crazy man can jump out of a plane and stare death in the face. Forget the parachute God will not be providing it , whether you believe in him or not ,you are right . But what God is providing is a safe landing for the believer even after his death .
    Now Hawk how can you disprove that ! You can’t so as a famous scientist said, its a better lottery to believe than not to believe. So invite God and He will make the invisible visible as he has done for many of us GUARANTEED !. God made you to know Him and Love Him . The crock of poop is where you will land after death without God ! An eternal dunghill !

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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