This is a great read from Rick Warren. Thanks Rick for your continued wisdom.
Failure is one of God’s primary tools in making you the kind of person—and leader—He wants you to be. He’ll use failure to mold you, shape you, and develop your character. The truth is, we rarely learn anything from success. When we succeed we immediately think, “It’s just because of my sheer natural talent.” We don’t figure out why we succeeded.
But if we’re wise we’ll use our failures to our advantage. Wise people make the most of failure. It’s a stepping-stone to greater days.
So how can failure benefit me? There’s lots of ways, but here are three of the most important.
1. God uses failure to educate me. (Psalm 119:71) Mistakes are a learning process. You figure out what doesn’t work and eventually you’ll figure out what does work. We only learn certain things through failure. It’s just trial and error. At Saddleback, we’ve done more that didn’t work than did. Eventually, we find something that works, hold a seminar, and pretend like we knew what we were doing all along.
2. God uses failure to motivate me. (Proverbs 20:30) We don’t usually change when we see the light; we change when we feel the heat. Sometimes God has to use a little pain to get us to change and steer us in a new direction. Remember when God dried up the little brook that Elijah depended upon for refreshment (1 Kings 17). God wanted him to move on. Sometimes it takes failure to make us do what God wants us to do.
3. God uses failure to help me grow. (Romans 5:3-4) Failure can actually cultivate our character and help us grow. Romans 5:3-4 says we should rejoice when we run into problems and trials because they “are good for us.” Why can we rejoice in failure? God uses problems to cultivate our character. Failure has a way of softening our hearts. It makes us sensitive to others. It makes us less judgmental. It makes us more sympathetic.
Failure in our lives does not automatically educate us, motivate us, or help us grow. Failure only benefits you if you respond correctly. I know a lot of people who have been through problem after problem, and they’re still jerks. Why? They haven’t responded in the way God wanted them to so God couldn’t use it.
You may want to forget your worst failures, but God wants to turn them into teachable moments.