The Key to Learning and Growing
by C.A. Phillips
Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. James 1:2-4 (NLT)
Let’s tell it like it is: failure stinks. If you’re familiar with the Enneagram test, I am a ONE – Perfectionist. So, for me, failure feels fatal!
As I’ve gotten older, the James scripture above is one I have revisited often. Why do I keep coming back to it? Because trials arise more frequently as you journey through life – and especially for parents as your kids get older and begin making mistakes of their own. The long and the short of it is that we need reminders that trials, failures, and time spent in the pit don’t have to be wasted. If handled properly, they become catalysts for the greatest things God wants to do in and through you.
I hope you caught the first word in that last sentence. IF.
You’ve likely heard the phrase that “Failure is our greatest teacher.” It’s not a wrong statement. It’s an incomplete one. It needs the word “IF” as a caveat.
I think Richard Blackaby said it best. He shared that failure isn’t what teaches us, and it’s not what leads us to personal or spiritual growth. Instead, says Blackaby, focused reflection on failure is what leads us down the road James mentions: endurance, being complete, lacking nothing.
So, the next time you make a mistake, or life throws you a curveball, don’t dismiss it; but, also don’t become bitter as a result. Instead, spend time with God and with yourself, reflecting on what you’ve been through.
After all, how can you overcome failure, if you don’t know what caused it?
C.A. Phillips is a lifelong sports enthusiast and youth baseball coach, and currently serves as the Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Amy, and his two sons, Chaz and Chandler.
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