Wednesday, October 12, 2011


As much as I hate to admit I have failed I have had those experiences where I didn't win. I have experienced the feelings that followed being beaten either by a person; of course I was a child!. or by a situation.

When you have failed in an enterprise that you had so many hopes that it would succeed because of your time, concentration and energy the emotional feelings of failure can be as traumatic as watching a love one die. In a sense failure is like death. Because when failure becomes your reality something in you does die. It may be your hope. Your vision. Your plans. It could be a relationship or a business.

I've never dealt well with failure. Many years ago I wrote my first novel. It was the year that my son Quincy was born. The novel was autobiographical as I drew comparisons between myself and the protagonist in the novel. He was a teenage boy who fell in love in a girl. The boy was a Christian, the girl was not. In a desire to be with the girl the boy compromised on what he believed. Months later the girl broke his heart and the boy spent the rest of his high school years pursuing meaningless relationships. (That really does describe my high school years).

A year after writing that novel I secured the services of an agent. He spent an entire year trying to get me a publishing contract but he didn't close the deal. The day I received my manuscript from the agent I conceded that my first novel was a failure and I didn't have a story worth publishing and I didn't write anymore for more than ten years.

My reaction to that failure was to walk away from the novel and the desire to see it published. I decided to cut my losses and move on. I didn't believe in fighting for what I believed in and what I dreamed could be.

But since then I have learned how to live after a failure. I have a different mindset now than I did then because I've still had some failures but what I know now is that you can have a new season after a failure and you can even have a new beginning after failure. This is what I have learned:

1. MINIMIZE THE EVENT AND MAXIMIZE THE LESSON: After you've gotten over the hurt of your failure stop concentrating on what happened. Give yourself a couple of days to reflect and mourn on what happened and how it affected you, then take a seat, take a breath and review what you learned from your failure. Take my word for it, the lesson is greater than the failure. If you can extract a lesson from your failure than you can turn your failure into success!

2. RECOGNIZE THE CAUSE OF THE FAILURE. When my first novel wasn't published I made myself believe that I was the failure. But it wasn't my failure, it was the agent's failure. I blamed myself for someone else inadequacies and that caused me to stop writing for more than a decade. In taking a look at what caused the failure you should rightly take responsibility for what you did to cause it but then you should refuse to take responsibility for what someone has done.

3. KNOW YOUR LIMITATIONS: Sometime we fail because we try to do too much on our own. We try to execute plans that we are equipped to carry out. When you recognize what you can't do then you will seek the help of others. You will seek the help of those who are skilled in areas where you are not. We often fail when we don't have a team. When we don't have support. Failure is often the result of pursuing private concerns without partners. Everybody who wants to win needs somebody who can help them win.

After you've failed you can live again. Let the words of Psalms 73:26 challenge you. "My flesh and my heart faileth; but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever."

Life after failure is living where you trust God to give you the strength to continue on. I didn't do that after my novel wasn't published. I sought meaning in other things. I replaced my calling to write with my pastoral calling. I was in God's will, because he had called me to be a pastor  but I wasn't in God's perfect will because a big part of my destiny was in my writing. Every now and then I would sit at my desk in my office at the church and the desire to write a story would speak softly in my spirit. But I wasn't strong enough to seek God for His strength to empower me to do what I was born to do.

And then living after failure is knowing that God is your portion. If you didn't receive what you wanted then you have to recognize that God has assigned you something else. And sometime we find that something else after failure. Because God is your portion he has a place for you. He has a plan for you and he has people for you.

Confucius said, "Our greatest glory is not in ever falling, but in rising ever time we fall."

Today I am including the link to the free chapter in my novel DO YOU WANNA BE MADE WHOLE?  In this chapter two characters in the story are trying to find life after they experienced failure in their marriage. Read and enjoy if you haven't haven't already read this novel.



  1. Good post and sound advice.
    Wanda B. Campbell

  2. Interesting article, Bernard.


    Tom Blubaugh
    Night of the Cossack