We live in a world that loves success and fears failure. Some of the most successful people point to their failures as critical components of their success—I know this is true for myself. But it seems that people spend more time and effort trying not to fail than trying to succeed.
Don’t get caught in this mindset. Failure offers incredible opportunities for personal, professional, and spiritual growth if you learn to handle it the right way. So my encouragement to you is this: Don’t fear failure—master it! “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7).
In Matthew 25:14–30, Jesus told a parable of a man who went away on a journey and gave three servants varying amounts of money. Two of the servants managed to double their money in the time he was away while one chose to fear what would happen if his investment failed and did nothing. Upon his return, the master was upset with the man and, in essence, fired him. The servant who was controlled by fear of failure ended up as bad off as he thought he would be if he had lost his master’s money.
People who focus on avoiding failure make poor decisions, and they waste a whole lot of energy worrying. Failure is a part of everyone’s life—your boss’s, your CEO’s, your pastor’s, your mentor’s. All of them failed, a lot, before they got to where they are.
No one sets out to fail or designs a plan around failure, but even the world’s best scientists know that most of their experiments will fail before they eventually find the breakthrough. Knowing and accepting that mistakes are part of the process is critical to making progress, particularly when the way forward is difficult or unclear. Failure will be a part of your life, just as it has been part of mine, but that doesn’t mean it has to define you.1