Episode 7

Failure Isn't Fatal

Published on: 13th September, 2021

You’ve probably felt like you messed up royally at some point. Failed yourself. Others. God. But don’t count yourself out. Failure isn’t the end, and what to do when it happens is simple.


[00:04] - Intro

[00:32] - I recently experienced a personal failure at a writers’ conference.

[01:42] - Current culture makes us think that success should be easy and leaves us unprepared to handle failure well. 

[02:25] - Most successful entrepreneurs and innovators were serial failures.

[02:47] - God knows how many times you’ve struck out, but He looks at forward potential.

[03:14] - The Prodigal Son and the story of Peter’s denial both show that failure doesn’t mean we’re “done”. 

[03:50] - One of the big problems is that we have our own perception of what is supposed to happen. We don’t always see what God has in the works.

[04:44] - To deal with failure well, we have to accept that we might not have all the puzzle pieces.

[05:13] - You still might have to deal with the consequences of a failure, even if you are forgiven.

[06:09] - When you feel like you’ve failed, don’t count yourself out. Be transparent and ask for help.

[06:56] - Prayer

[07:50] - Outro/what’s coming up next

Key takeaways:

  • After getting feedback about my novel at a writer’s conference, I felt like I’d failed. 
  • Culture has fed us the idea that success is easy to achieve and that there’s something wrong with you if you fail. We’re not prepared for it well. But most successful people failed multiple times, often in huge ways.
  • God is aware of every failure you make, but He always looks at what you still are capable of doing. The Prodigal Son and Peter’s denial are examples that show that God doesn’t count us out even when we miss the mark.
  •  We don’t always have all the puzzle pieces about what God is trying to do, so our perception about whether we’ve failed or succeeded isn’t always accurate.
  • Forgiveness after a failure doesn’t mean you won’t have consequences to deal with.
  • When you fail, be honest and transparent and ask for help, rather than hiding what’s happened or how you feel.

Relevant Links:


  • Be upfront with others and God when you fail. Be genuine with your sorry and trust that God will still use you.
  • Visit patreon.com/FaithfulOnTheClock to become a supporting member of the show.

What’s coming up next:

Naggy Nancy. Narcissistic Newman. You know them. But when you encounter difficult people like this at the office, what should you do? How would God want you to deal with people who stress you out and cause trouble? Learn practical strategies for keeping conflicts under control when others don’t make it easy in Episode 8 of Faithful on the Clock.


Hey everybody, the time has come for yet another show. I'm Wanda Thibodeaux, and you're listening to Faithful on the Clock the podcast all about getting your faith and work aligned. Today I'm going to be talking about failure and why it's not the end of the world when it happens. Come on with me and let’s do a little exploring.


Okay. So we've all had those moments where we feel like we've just totally struck out, you know, whether that's, you know, you just burnt breakfast or you bombed your last presentation, and I want to tell you about an experience that I had with that. So you might know, my main job, I'm a writer, and I’ve been querying a fiction novel for a number of years. And recently I went to a Christian writers conference, and when I was at the conference, I had a one-on-one session with an agent who essentially very politely told me that my book would not make it or wouldn't be successful because it straddled the secular and Christian markets too much. And even though I knew that she was absolutely right about what she was saying, it was still just this awful moment where, I really just wanted to go off and eat a bunch of carbs and hibernate for a few months on the couch, because this was a book, you have to understand, that I had been working on for years. So it was something that I had really put a lot of time and energy into, and it was really this kind of devastating moment. And it was like, oof, God, why does this feel so awful?


And the first thing I kind of thought about was that, you know, I think these days, we’re fed this idea that success ought to be easy. You know, capitalism, it’s this idea that anybody can make it. You know, you just have to want it bad enough. And I think that’s created this kind of culture where, if you don’t win, if you do fail, well, then you think that there’s something wrong or lacking about you. We cognitively know that everybody fails, but we don’t really anticipate failure very well, and we’re not prepared for it, and when it happens, your first instinct isn’t to just accept it as part of life. Your first reaction is just to say, oh my gosh, what on earth is wrong with me, and you start nitpicking out all your flaws.


But if you really look at history, some of the most well-known inventors or entrepreneurs, and statistically, they’re striking out way more than they’re hitting the ball. Walt Disney, for example, he was millions of dollars in debt just before he made Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. Thomas Edison, he made something like 1,000 attempts at the light bulb before he came up with something that worked.


And the big takeaway from that is, no matter how many failures we might have none of those failures necessarily disqualifies us from having overall success. You know we are going to fail because we're not God, we're not perfect, we're not omnipotent. And even though God knows how many times you struck out, he's always looking at your forward potential and what you are still capable of achieving.


And scripture is full of examples of this. The story of Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-31, for example. You know, the younger of the two sons, he went out and royally screwed up, lost everything his father had given him. But the father still celebrated when he came home. He didn’t care about the money or any of that. And then in John 18, Peter, who was one of Jesus’ closest disciples, he completely lost his way and denied Jesus three times. But that same Peter was the disciple who ended up being the entire foundation for the early church.


I think some of the issue, too, is, we’re always defining success on our own terms so often. We have our biased perspective on what’s, quote, “supposed” to happen. And when those things don’t materialize, it’s disorienting. You know, think about the disciples and Christ’s first followers, and a lot of them, they weren’t thinking about having their sins forgiven, they were thinking that Jesus was going to free Israel from Rome, and that he was going to be this great warrior like King David. So you can imagine what must have gone through their heads when they saw Jesus up on the cross, to think that this person that they’d followed could have let himself be arrested and killed, or to know that they hadn’t been able to protect him. But of course, as God’s followers today, we can look back and know that the crucifixion wasn’t failure at all. It was a victory of massive proportions.


And so I think one of the keys to handling failure well is to just remember that sometimes we don’t have all the puzzle pieces, and that even when things don’t work out the way we expected or wanted, we’re not stuck. And we don’t even need to know where God is taking us. We just need to trust Him to get us there. Let me say that again. You don’t need to know where God is taking you. You just need to trust Him to get you there.


Does that mean there’s never going to be a consequence when you fail? No. I mean, if you make a bad business call, maybe it’ll cost you a couple thousand, maybe even a couple million. If you look at King David and Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11-12, you’ve got King David who basically stole Bathsheba from her husband, he had her husband intentionally sent to the front lines of battle so he would die. That sin was a HUGE failure. And the consequence of that sin was that the son he had with Bathsheba died. You know, David was supposed to be God’s anointed, and here he was, essentially doing murder for his own gain. But in the end, David repented and found forgiveness. So it’s important to remember that bearing a consequence doesn’t mean you can’t do better, and it doesn’t mean that God or even other people always will hold what happened over your head. You really can get up and dust yourself off and still make good things happen.


So if things don’t go your way, don’t count yourself out, because God certainly doesn’t. And what we see in scripture is that when God’s followers failed, more often than not, they didn’t stay silent about it or try to hide it. They confessed what happened. They admitted it, and when they said they were sorry, it wasn’t just for show. So whether you pray to God or you go to a coworker you think you let down, just be transparent about it. Ask for help and show that you’re willing to make it right however you can, because, you know, I’ve said it before, but today’s companies, they’re not looking for perfect. They’re looking for integrity, and they’ve got a lot of respect for people who can take ownership when something goes wrong. And in the end, failure is just an event. It’s never a definition of who you are.


So as always, let me say a few words to God for a second.

God, none of us like to feel like we’ve missed the mark. But the fact is, we all do--Romans 3:23 reminds us that everybody has sinned and fallen short. But when we’ve failed, let us see it. Don’t let us stay in the dark about it. Because as awful as it might feel to know we’ve failed, it’s much worse to be blind to how we hurt others or You. It’s much worse to not know how we can grow and do better and serve. So when we mess up, let us confess that, and let us remember that we don’t have to be perfect to be perfectly loved. In Jesus’ name, Amen.


That is everything the cook put in the pot, as I’ll say. And as I leave you today, my hope is that you will see your failures not just as opportunities to learn, but as opportunities to lean into God’s strength. Just like God found Elijah in the desert after he’d run away and got him back in the game, God will always find you, too. Next week, we’ll be talking about how to handle all the difficult people in your office. You know the ones. Stay tuned for that, and until next time, be blessed.

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Faithful on the Clock
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast meant to get your Christian faith and work aligned. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
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Wanda Thibodeaux

Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.

Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.