God loves to turn around the things that you think are absolutely hopeless. How does God take a minus and turn it into a plus? How does He take the negative things in our lives that are bad and use them for good? He makes a cross out of them.
Just because God has called you and decided to use you in ministry does not mean that you aren’t ever going to fail. You are going to fail in your ministry sometimes and you’re going to make mistakes. And when you fail, you are still God’s person. You’re still called and you’re gifted and you’re anointed and filled with His Spirit.
What really matters is how you respond to your failures. Coming soon, I want to share with you some right ways to respond to your failures, but for now, I’d like to share with you three ways NOT to respond to your failures …
1. Don’t clam up. Don’t take your failures out on yourself. Don’t blame yourself, become self-critical or self-destructive. If you do, you’ll walk around under a cloud of self-condemnation and guilt. The past can’t hurt you unless you allow it. Ask God to forgive you of your failures, accept His forgiveness, and then forgive yourself. Don’t take it out on yourself. A lot of people clam up—hold it all inside.
2. Don’t blow up. Don’t take your failures out on others. Often the guy who’s a failure at his office is a tyrant in his home. He goes home and yells at his wife. The wife turns around and yells at their older boy. The older boy yells at the younger girl. The younger girl kicks the dog. The dog bites the baby. The baby jerks the head off the baby doll. Passing your angry or frustrated feelings on to others never works. It just hurts more people.
3. Don’t give up. Don’t withdraw into a shell. Sometimes you get hurt in a ministry situation and face the temptation to say, “I don’t want to mess up again, so I’ll give up. I just won’t serve God anymore.” The fact is, every situation in life will either make you bitter or better. And it’s your choice. The difference between “bitter” and “better” is the letter “I”—I make the difference. It’s my response.
Next week, we’ll talk about how to embrace your failures, move past them and be stronger than when you started. Check your heart today to see if you’ve clammed up, blown up, or given up, and decide differently. Decide to be better!
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America’s largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book The Purpose Driven Church was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also the founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.