how do we describe it
How do you define failure? How do you define success? It’s one thing to read the definition in a dictionary, it’s another to describe it in regard to your own life. For someone who fears failure because of their strong perfectionist streak in them, it can be hard to nail down what success is because if we define success, it’s possible that we may not meet it and then be considered a failure. Or, because we do not want to fail, we set the goals of success so low that we aren’t pushed to grow and instead settle for less, giving ourselves the comforting thought that we have met our goals and are successful. This has been a struggle for me and I have found three powerful steps to help me move past my fear of failure.
the lesson from Moses
As an infant, Moses was taken up out of the water by the Egyptian princess. He was raised inside the palace walls and treated as one of the royal family. Being part of this reign and rule would mean success and power – at least in the eyes of men. But, when he was grown, Moses left his noble title and instead chose to go back to his family roots with the Hebrew nation. As Hebrews 11:24-26 (ESV) describes it, “By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.”
Moses didn’t know what was coming when he chose to leave the palace for the humble homes of Goshen. He wasn’t aware of the quest that God would call Him on or the giant tasks that God would fulfill through him. What he chose was the disgrace of being associated with Christ over the treasures of Egypt. He was willing to put off earthly treasures at the time for a great reward someday.
Moses went on to lead 600,000 men, plus women and children, out of Egypt and towards the Promised Land. He spoke to God through a burning bush, took commandments from Him on a mountain, and felt God’s glory as He passed by while Moses hid in the cleft of a rock. Moses turned from the temporal success and glory of Egypt towards the promise and hope found in God. Because of that choice, he went down in history as a great leader of God, even being listed in the Hall of Faith in the book of Hebrews.
shifting our perspective
We obviously aren’t going to lead millions of people through a desert or get our names listed in the Bible, but our choice today is still the same. Where are we going to seek success? We have two choices: we can seek after success in the hands of men or chase after success in the hands of the Almighty. One direction is a certain failure, the other is a near-certain failure. Doesn’t sound like fantastic choices does it? But, when we remind ourselves that God is always working things out for good, it makes the decision clearer. With humans, and ourselves, we are doomed to fail in the end. With God, things may look bleak, and failure imminent, but all things work out for good.
When it comes to setting goals and defining success, we can be fearful of failure. Negative self-talk tells us that we’re a failure before we even begin. We may not be able to see past the stack of our deficiencies to focus on the faithfulness and goodness of God. When we become stuck in this rut, it’s important to remind ourselves of 1 John 3:20, “For whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.”
a 3-step process
God already knows that we will struggle with self-doubt and need His reassurance. He knows our heart and He is greater than any condemnation that we bring upon ourselves. Coupled with the knowledge that God works all things for good and that He is greater than our self-critical heart, we can give our desires and fear of failure over to Him.We can trust Him to bring about the best for us and that if it’s not good, He’s not finished.
Redefine what success is from your earthly point of view into what it looks like in the eyes of God. (Hebrews 11:24-26)
Recognize the negative self-talk that you are feeding your soul and Replace it with the promises of God. (I John 3:20-24)
Release your fear of failure into God’s hands. A beautiful breath prayer to say over in your mind as you slowly breathe in and out is Lamentations 3:24, “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
download the worksheet
Do you process better when your thoughts are written down? Click the button below for a free download of the Fear of Failure vs God’s Promise of Victory worksheet!