Success is simply doing our best and failure is about not making the effort. When we compare ourselves with others, we set ourselves up for not just failure, but also the fear of failure. When we compare ourselves, we can end up feeling as if “I’ll never measure up, impact that many people, have skills like that” etc. The Bible says: “Everyone should look at himself and see how he does his own work. Then he can be happy in what he has done. He should not compare himself with his neighbour.” Galatians 6:4 NLV.
To move past the fear of failure, we must remember that everyone fails but failure need not be final. Recognise the benefits of failure and resolve to stop comparing ourselves with others. We have to move our dependence from what ‘I’ can do and focus on what Jesus wants to do through us. To overcome the fear of failure, we must first adjust from a ‘me’ focus to a God focus. Often our feelings of failure come from a focus on ourselves and our own abilities or lack thereof. We need to purposely redirect our thinking to see things as God sees them and remember that God is still in control of our lives and has placed purpose in us. God wants us to succeed and Ephesians 3:20 remind us that God can do far more than we could ask or think.
The second thing we need to do is to accept God’s forgiveness. Sometimes we feel like a failure because we have failed at something significant. We need to remember that the forgiveness of God is great. If we have blown it in some way, let’s seek the forgiveness of God and find a new start. Jesus came to cancel the failures in our lives and to reinstate or give us new tasks to accomplish. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins”1 John 1:9 (NIV).
We then need to remind ourselves of God’s faithfulness in the past. We need to look back and remember how God has already worked in our lives. We have had some successes and need to remember that the God who worked in our lives in the past is the same God who wants to work in our lives today. If God did it before, He can and is willing to do it again. We need to increase our faith. Sometimes our feelings of failure are overcome by increasing our faith in our God. This means stepping up and stepping out in faith and trusting God more. Sometimes our fear of failure is our failure to trust God.
Finally, we need to allow others to help. One of the greatest helps we find in times of pain, frustration, and failure (in addition to God and His Word) are our family and friends. Often, we feel like a failure because we try to do everything ourselves. We can all use encouragement, and that’s why there are so many verses in the Bible that talk about our relationships with one another. Chief among these is Hebrews 3:13 (NIV) “But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today’, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” We are to encourage, support, pray for and bear each other’s burdens. Let others in and accept their love, encouragement, help and support.
Where are you afraid of failing? At a job interview? Losing your job? Marriage? Being single? Being a bad parent? A spiritual failure?
Whichever fear of failure is gripping your heart, God wants to do so much in our lives, but He won’t if we don’t allow Him.