Sunday, March 4, 2012

Stepping from Failure

     Failure. It is no doubt a word that sends chills and darkness into souls, so mean and menacing, cold and pervading. There is no other word that deflates a child more. As parents we hopefully are not the ones to utter such despicable syllables. Much to our dismay, the world will whisper them for us. Children will see they “need” those items being peddled on television to become “successful.” Homeschooled children are fortunate that as their teachers we can help them master a skill without marking their papers with those forbidden, humiliating, red-inked ‘F’s.’ What can failure teach? Where can failure lead?
     Below are some basic points. These are not meant to be new epiphanies, but rather time-honored practices. Busy moms and dads have a tendency to need a reminder. An idea we have utilized before gets lost in the hustle and bustle of life. It’s when our memories are stoked, the fire burns brightly again.

Failure is a time for learning. Parents can re-label those into learning opportunities. In fact, it is when we have to practice a skill or rework a paper we learn the most. Instead of “Look what you did,” it’s, “Let’s take a look how we can improve this assignment.” I am quite sure the Apostle Paul became better at preaching as time went on. His first oration may very well have been something quite less.

Failure can lead to a different avenue or mode of operation. Moses had to ask for help knowing he wasn’t a natural-born orator. God has not gifted us equally. After a few tries at a new pursuit, it is perfectly okay to ask for assistance. God gave us families to help us along in life. No one was created to go at it alone. The world may try to create super-boy or super-girl that wants to conquer all, but those are the people that grow up to find they are alone. Teamwork is a blessing. Think outside the box if the task must be accomplished. One way is not always the only way.

Failure can build up perseverance. Are you going to quit after a failed attempt or keep trying to master that skill? Sir Winston Churchill, voted Greatest Briton in 2002, overcame a terrible lisp and clinical depression. Besides being remembered as a former prime minister leading during World War II and author, he is recounted as a great orator. Certainly, he persevered. As he claimed and as I second his statement, “Never, never, never, never–in nothing, great or small, large or petty–never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” It’s up to our children how far they reach and whether they get there. Aim for perseverance.

Failure can be encouraged away. We have a responsibility to build our children up. Encourage their hearts and souls to pursue God’s will for their lives. If the child wants to try again at whatever task is at hand we can encourage them to do so. Sometimes, all it takes a little more love and encouragement to give them the necessary boost in confidence.

Failure doesn’t stand up to the positive. If they choose not to continue the attempt or are simply unable to complete it, encourage a new pursuit. Let them move on and reiterate what was learned. When the positive is pointed out to them, children will carry that throughout their lives. On the other hand, failure remembered in a negative light can be crippling.

Failure reminds us to look back at whence we came. Deuteronomy 1:31 reminds us, “and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.” God has done so much for us all. In a desert period it is beneficial and heart-warming to ponder where He has led us from and where He has led us to. Failures are small in comparison to the bigger picture.

Failure allows us to realign our vision. It is time to sit down and figure out what you want to accomplish. What’s the big picture? Were expectations set too high? Once that big picture is in focus it is time to set up snapshots or smaller goals. Break down the picture into small pieces. Often, failure is a result of taking on too much at once or having unrealistic aims. Anyway, if you don’t get to the end, at the very least you have accomplished small goals. Confidence is boosted, as well as courage.

     Lastly, failure is about perspective as I hope to have pointed out by now. Our children are primed to learn how to handle failure. May we lead them biblically and uplift their souls. All throughout the Bible God shows us how our plans are not always His plans. Our days are ordained, which consequently, so are our failures. Each one is a stepping stone to our sanctification for the glory of our Lord. Keep on!

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