Have you ever felt like you are a complete failure? I have failed at so many things but the one thing I struggle with the most is the ability to communicate. Which is ironic as I have the privilege of being the Communications Director for the Vineyard! It came to a head over a year ago. Yet again, my employee evaluation highlighted my need to communicate more effectively (12 years running!). I had just about had enough. I was beyond frustrated in my inability to get a handle on communicating in a way that didn’t send people running for the hills. Seeing no help coming my way from my place of employment (don’t get me wrong; my co-workers are fantastic!), I finally asked Pastor Luke for coaching. Isn’t funny how God puts the right people in our paths?
There were two things that Pastor Luke started me doing. First, I needed to pray before every meeting and second, I needed to answer my phone with a smile. I can’t say that it was a miracle cure but it certainly helped! I still struggle. I can get pushy and use words that hurt. God constantly convicts me of this and I sometimes find myself in prayer throughout the day asking for forgiveness. But you know what? I haven’t stopped trying. I haven’t given up.
My inability to communicate may seem like a complete failure to you. I have found, however, that failure is really just a blessing in disguise. It’s just an opportunity to try again. Matter of fact, failing just propels us forward, if we let it. There are 3 things you need to know about dealing with perceived failure: doubt, purpose, and opportunity.
Doubt. Doubt is a joy stealer, a blessing taker. Why do we doubt a God that is so mighty and powerful that He made time stand still for Joshua (Joshua 10:12)? I was so down beaten over the whole communication thing, I really started to doubt my God given talents and abilities. My doubt started to overshadow my trust in God. Not only do we not trust in ourselves to make the right choices but what that can translate into is trusting God to lead us where He wants us to go. You can’t trust God and doubt at the same time. You need to pick one or the other. I choose to trust in God. Making the choice to trust God and let go of my self-doubt was a matter of giving up control. I needed to trust that God would lead my actions and my words. I needed to pray for His guidance and wisdom and discernment. Doubt takes us on a long winding journey to get back to God’s purpose and plan for us.
Purpose. God has purpose for our lives. He says in Jeremiah 29:11 “I know the plans I have for you says the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future”. God has our best interests at heart. He wants us to be prosperous, to love Him, and to love others. God’s purpose for our lives are sometimes revealed in the smallest of ways. I still struggle but I know I have purpose. God is building me up to do something wonderful that glorifies His kingdom. It’s been a long journey though. For every step forward I sometimes take two steps back. God is in front of me, leading the way. He waits for me to catch up. He takes me on winding paths to reveal areas of my life that need polishing. Sometimes the journey is long but it shows me my purpose, His purpose.
Opportunity. Henry Ford stated that failure’s just an opportunity to start over more intelligently. God gave us that opportunity through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for us. Through Jesus Christ, I have the opportunity the start over each time I think I fail. I have a loving and kind Father who wants the best for me. When you think that you have failed, take it is a learning opportunity and try again. Never give up. Opportunities to improve are always there. Grab them, ask God for guidance, and keep at it. I’m not done working on myself. I know I will never be perfect and, thank goodness, I don’t have to be. All I want is to be at a point in my life where I can speak words of love and encouragement and not be hurtful and hateful.
So this is my encouragement to you: don’t give up. God is waiting for you to turn to Him and ask Him for help. Stop doubting yourself and listen to God speak to your heart. Turn your failures into learning opportunities. Strive to glean all you can from your journey. Thomas S. Monson said: one of God’s greatest gifts to us is the joy of trying again, for no failure ever need be final. No, it’s not final. God has His hand on us and leads the way. Fail forward, my friends. Fail forward.