“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong..” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Why do people fear failure? We view failure as a Waterloo. We see it as the plague of plagues and as the worst thing that could happen to us. Perhaps the greatest problem is we associate failure through the lens of how other people view us. The idea that they may not hold us in high regard can be responsible for us holding back, instead of moving forward.  All because we fear failure.   

As a result, the fear of failure has many people in neutral or paralyzed or playing the game of cover up. We ignore our mistakes and hide our sins because to admit them would be to admit that we are a failure. People don’t get married because they fear the inevitable bumps in the road. Others refuse to tackle a job or take on a responsibility for fear of failure. Still others fail to be generous because they fear the future and its possible failures. But as we learned in the life of Samson, failures can and do happen. And Samson was not alone in that regard. 

When Abraham should have stayed in the land and trusted the Lord, he fled to Egypt because of the drought. And this was by no means the last of Abraham’s failures. Moses, in trying to help his people, ran ahead of the Lord and killed an Egyptian. When David should have been out in the field of battle, he stayed home and committed adultery with Bathsheba and then plotted the murder of her husband. Peter, in spite of his self-confidence and his boast, denied the Lord. 

There is a fundamental pattern and principle here. Sometimes God must engineer failure in us before He can bring about success in us. I want to say something up front. This is not to make excuses for sin or to place a premium on mistakes or failure. This does not mean that a person must fail before they can be a success, but our failures, whether in the form of rebellion or just errors, oversights or good-old-fashioned blunders, can become tools of learning. The point is, we must never think that God cannot use us because of past or present failures.

The bottom line is we can grow through failure if we remember that: First, we are accepted in the Lord on the basis of grace, not our performance. Second, we are human and, as a result, we are not now perfect nor will we ever be. God still has a plan for our lives. And third, God is not through with us yet, and we need to be ready to do His will without fear of failure.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How might someone’s past failures keep them from moving on with their life? How does fear of failure sometimes keep people from doing what they know to be right? Why are people so afraid of failure? Is failure always a bad thing? Why or why not?
  2. Have you ever been afraid to try something new because you were concerned about the possible consequences? When is this kind of fear healthy? When is this kind of fear unhealthy?
  3. What steps do you need to take this week to reduce fear in your life?