Recovering from Failure

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Karen Ball & Erin Taylor Young

12 – Recovering from Failure

The New Year is a time for reflection and review, but too often we find ourselves falling into a trap of feeling like a failure. How can we set new goals when we haven’t achieved our old ones? In this episode, we give you simple steps to avoid the snare of failure and move forward with confidence.

Show Notes

How often do we look on New Year’s Day as a time to set goals? To determine what we will and won’t do this time around? And how often do we find ourselves taking stock…looking back at the year that just ended, at the goals we made a year ago, and focusing on…

Our failures.

At some point in our lives we’re all going to fail at something, so we need to understand how to handle that with grace and move forward.

Too many of us allow failure, especially if there’s repeated failure, to chip away at our spirit and undermine what God really wants to accomplish in us. We focus on the failure and end up entrenched in garbage.

Steps to moving forward:

Realize God is rooting for us.

He’s thrown away the garbage and He doesn’t want us to keep digging it out.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12

Ask ourselves:

  1. What should I learn from this?
  2. What changes should I make as a result?

Get the right perspective to move forward.

  1. Living in our failures can be comfortable.

It’s easier to maintain the picture we already have of ourselves then to re-create our image. We need to realize that it will take effort to move passed a failure that may be defining us and be willing to do that work.

2. Sometimes we believe God forgives us, but we can’t forgive ourselves.

Who are we to not forgive where God has granted grace and forgiveness already? When we do that, we’re saying our verdict counts more than God’s, and we’re perverting God’s justice.

“Always think carefully before pronouncing judgment…..Fear the LORD and judge with integrity, for the LORD our God does not tolerate perverted justice.” 2 Chronicles 19:6-7

3. Sometimes we have lingering consequences from our failures, and that makes it hard for us to forget them and move past them.

All we can do is deal with these consequences with a sense of grace and peace. God’s grace is there to sustain us through them. His power is made perfect in our weaknesses.

Moses is a great example of coping with lingering consequences. After all his faithfulness and all the things that he put up with in dealing with the Israelites and leading them out of Egypt and through the wilderness, he had one failure when he did not honor God as holy and follow His directions accurately. Because of that, Moses was not allowed to enter the Promised Land. If anyone had a right to be upset by consequences, it was Moses. And yet his life wasn’t defined by that. Instead, Moses is listed in Hebrews as one of the great examples of faith. Moses moved forward from the failure. His life wasn’t consumed by the consequences.

“…But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

Final Thoughts:

In this new year, as you look back at the year that’s just ended, it’s okay to consider what you wanted to accomplish, what you did accomplish, even what you didn’t accomplish. But as you do so, fix your focus not on the garbage on the counter. Instead, look with God’s eyes. Look at what the successes and failures have taught you. What they’ve developed inside of you. If the overall message is one of discouragement, surrender that to God. Let Him throw the garbage away. And remember instead that He is for you! And He will use all of what’s happened—the good, the bad, even the ugly—to transform you into a truer reflection of His Son. Learn from the failures, but don’t be defined by them. Instead, be defined by what God says about you:

Jeremiah 31 (Karen’s paraphrase)

“You will find blessings even in the barren land,

for I will give rest to you…I have loved you with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.

I will rebuild you…

You will again be happy…

Tears of joy will stream down your faces,

and I will lead you home with great care.

You will walk beside quiet streams

and on smooth paths where you will not stumble.

For I am your father…

You will be radiant because of the LORD’s good gifts…your life will be like a watered garden,

and all your sorrows will be gone.

I will turn your mourning into joy.

I will comfort you and exchange your sorrow for rejoicing…will feast on my good gifts. I, the LORD, have spoken!”


We’d love to hear from you!

Have you been able to move forward after a failure?
What helped you?


Don’t let your failures define you! (Click to tweet this)
Failures: Make them work FOR you! (Click to tweet this)
You are more than your failures! (Click to tweet this)


  1. Linda says:

    Too many of us allow failure, especially if there’s repeated failure, to chip away at our spirit and undermine what God really wants to accomplish in us. We focus on the failure and end up entrenched in garbage… I have been guilty of allowing those failures to “chip away at my spirit” too often in the past year- to the point of just wanting to quit entirely. I have been unable to write much of anything since late July. But this past week, I began to understand why God has had my writing on hold. On Tuesday January 12, after a devastating stroke, my mother went home to be with the Lord. Had I not had time the past few months to dig deeper into God’s word through Bible study and through listening to podcasts such as this one, I would not have been as prepared to let the Lord lead me through this time. I am slowly recognizing the failures that I have experienced with my writing are simply God leading me where he wants me to go in the time that is most perfect to say what I need to say. It is so true that nothing is ever wasted in God’s economy. He uses every thing in our lives to draw us and others closer to Him. Blessings.

    • Karen Ball says:

      Linda, what a wonderful testimony to the fact that God sees our lives from a perspective we can’t have in our human limitations. Our God dwells outside of time, and with that eternal, complete view He knows exactly what we need–and will need. May He continue to lead and guide you into His perfect will for you. And may He touch others through your work.

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