The Greatest Hits of Failures

Before becoming president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln had filed bankruptcy and lost several elections. Years before Steve Jobs launched an iPhone with Apple, he was fired from that same company. Before Disney became the ruler of a Magic Kingdom, his first company went out of business and he lost the rights to first created character Oswald the lucky rabbit (which led to the creation of Mickey Mouse). Before Apostle Peter became the man who boldly preached the first sermon post-Christ ascension (Acts 2:14-41), he denied Christ three times (Matthew 26:75). 

Looking at the second half of these stories, one would think that they had missed their chance to open doors of opportunity for the first half. Going bankrupt, being fired and losing the things that matter most would seem like a final blow to the legacy of a person. Throughout history, however, stories are written were people overcome adversity and shine brighter on the other side.

Missed chances or mistakes aren’t always a final chapter of someone’s life. In many cases, those missed chances become milestones of people’s later success. Instead of being final chapters, some people are able to take their mistakes and make them the first chapters – which allows them to write the story of their greatest achievements after.

I have come across similar moments in my life. I have seen our ministry events lose support or a venue at the last minute. I have had book ideas I knew were from God end up back on the shelf.  I have seen my prayers for salvation of friends and family tarry.

Similar to others I have mentioned in this article, bankruptcy is part of my history. I have also been fired. I lost more than $500,000 during a decade long gambling addiction. I watched as that addiction caused my friends to reject me and my family to distance themselves from me.

Thankfully, Jesus has a plan for each of us to restore what was lost (1 John 5:4), to turn around our mistakes for our good (Romans 8:28) and to let us write the best chapters of our lives even after the greatest hits of failures (Ephesians 2:10). 

I once heard a man say, “Failure is not the opposite of success, mediocrity is.” Mediocrity will allow a person to stay where they are and never achieve what God has for them because they think that have enough. Failure will allow a person to get back up and fight for more because they aren’t willing to settle for what they have. Failure isn’t the opposite of success, failure often is the road that leads to it.

I don’t think about their failures when I think about the stories of Disney, Lincoln or Peter. Yet, in my own life, I often dwell on my past frustrations, missteps and lost opportunities. I don’t believe this is the life God wants me or you to do. I may have had setbacks but I have also seen myself find a great wife, have a family, write books and serve others through ministry. My mistakes haven’t kept me from those things only shown me the other side of failure.

In his letter to the Philippians, Apostle Paul writes that in his own life he focuses on one thing – which is to forget his past and looking forward to what lies ahead.  More than most, Paul knows the depth of making mistakes. He murdered Christians before becoming one himself. His past failures could have stopped him not just from writing the best chapters of his life but the books of the Bible we read and study today. God forgave the mistakes of Paul and turned his life around for good. Can’t God also do the same for you?

If Jesus were here today and asked you to summarize your life to Him, would you focus on the problems or the blessings? Would you tell Jesus that your mistakes were the first chapters of your life or the last ones?

No matter what you have done. No matter what has happened to you. There is time to discover the plans God has for you and finish strong. The best stories to listen to and movies to watch are the ones where someone has a major setback but fights to overcome adversity and wins in the end. I know your life has adversity or at least some sense of wanting more. Christ is the answer to overcoming your struggles and the opener of every door of opportunity in your life. 

John Simmons is the President of Testimony House Ministries. He writes a daily blog for Testimony House each week day. He is the author of God Has a Sentence for Your Life and Finding Faith. Follow John on social media @newjohnsimmons. You can also watch John hosts various live streaming programs on the Testimony House Network each week.