My friends, I don’t feel that I have already arrived. But I forget what is behind and I struggle for what is ahead. (Philippians 3:12-14)

Reviewing 2015, you’re probably confronted with failure and its cousin, regret. I certainly am! My list would exhaust your tolerance! However, most of the time failure gets “a bad rap.” So, I would like to offer a corrective especially for those of us who, because of failures, consider ourselves to be failures.

First, you are not a failure. You may have failed in 2015. Even worse, you may have repeatedly made the same mistake. Nonetheless, failure is not your identity. One’s performance is NEVER one’s identity. Of the two criminals crucified with Jesus one of them said: “Remember me when You enter Your kingdom.” Jesus said to him, “I will. Today you will join me in paradise.” The criminal had zero success; yet, he was unconditionally accepted by Jesus. Take this to the bank for yourself! YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE! Joyce Meyers got it right—“We will all fail in life, but nobody has to be a failure. Failing at a thing doesn’t make you a failure.

Second, though “we all miss the mark” (Romans 3:23), failure can be productive! As a matter of fact failure most often is the road to success. “Unbelievable!” Yes, I know all too well. So, note the witness of the following successes—

  • Henry Ford: “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
  • Winston Churchill: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.”
  • Johnny Cash: “You build on failure. You use it as a stepping stone.”
  • John F. Kennedy: “Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.”
  • Dale Carnegie: “Develop success from failures. Discouragement and failure are two of the surest stepping stones to success.
  • Benjamin Franklin: “I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.”
  • Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
  • Michael Jordan: “I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
  • Mickey Rooney: “You always pass failure on the way to success.” 
  • Soichiro Honda: “Success represents the 1% of your work which results from the 99% that is called failure.” OK! Enough already!

Third, what we do with failure is more important than failure itself. Yes, it’s difficult to believe; but it’s fact! “Remind yourself, in the darkest moments, that every failure is only a step toward success, every detection of what is false directs you toward what is true, every trial exhausts some tempting form of error, and every adversity will only hide, for a time, your path to peace and fulfillment” (Og Mandino). The absolute evidence is the cross of Jesus!