Pastor Rick Warren: It’s Never Too Late to Start Over, Part 2: Get Going Again

By Jocelyn Hu

God is a God of second chances and fresh starts. And if you're alive and breathing and reading this post, God obviously isn't finished with you yet. Don't quit, and don't give up, even when you've experienced failure. Instead, allow God to use failure to move you forward.

In my last article, I talked about five reasons we often experience failure, and today I want to share with you the four ways to recover from failure and move forward.

1. Accept responsibility for your own failure. 

Proverbs 28:13 says, "A man who refuses to admit his mistakes can never be successful. But if he confesses and forsakes them, he gets another chance." When we refuse to admit our mistakes, they are wasted. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with others. Most of us are experts at passing blame on to others. It's part of our natural sin nature. We blame the economy, we blame the weather, we blame fate, we blame luck, you blame your parents, you blame your spouse, you blame the government.

But God says if you want to start over - if you failed - just admit it. I don't know where we get the idea that we have to pretend that we're perfect. We're not. You're not perfect! And neither am I.

In 1974 after an 88 game winning streak, UCLA basketball lost to Notre Dame. They lost in a game that they had been ahead by eleven points. The next day in the headlines John Wooten, the coach, said "Blame me." That's the mark of a winner. He doesn't pass the buck. He said we just got overconfident.

2. Stop regretting and start repenting. 

When you've had a major failure, stop regretting and start repenting. The Greek word for repent means to change your mind, to look at it a different way, to change your direction, to change your heart. You don't just sit around a moan, "I'm a failure. I'm a flop. I can never be used by God again. I'm wasted. I'm worthless. God's going to set me on the shelf." Stop regretting and start repenting.

2 Corinthians 7:10 says, "The sadness that is used by God brings a change of heart that leads to salvation and there is no regret in that. But worldly sadness causes death." There are two kinds of sadness mentioned in this verse: Godly sadness and worldly sadness.

Godly sorrow motivates you to change. It brings a change of heart. It motivates you to do something. It motivates you to change. Worldly sorrow is demoralizing, depressing, and it causes death. One of the most devastating emotions in life is self-pity. You never learn anything at a pity party.

Almost every success in life is built on a failure. You learn from it. I'm convinced that some things are only learned through failure.

3. Forget the former and focus on the future. 

Philippians 3:13-14 declares, "Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

What memory in your life are you allowing to continually manipulate you? Every time it comes up you think, "I wish I'd never done that! I regret that!" And you're manipulated by it. Some of you are allowing your past to control your future, and that's a mistake. Your past is past. You can't change the past by worrying about it. Let it go and focus on the future. It's not so much where you've been, but what direction your feet are headed now that counts. The past doesn't have to control you anymore.

I don't care what your failure is in life. You are not washed up unless you choose to quit, unless you choose to give up, unless you choose to reject the grace of God. The choice is condemnation or confession. You can either live in condemnation or you can confess it and get on with life. Forget the former and focus on the future.

4. Trust God to work it all out.

In Romans 8:28, "We know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good." God is working out a pattern in the fabric of our lives that's going to be beautiful. It all fits. But sometimes from our point of view it looks like a jumble, a mess. We look at our lives and think, "How can anything good come out of this?"

I used to worry about the source of the problems that come into our lives a lot more than I do now. Is this problem from the devil? Is this problem from other Christians? Is this problem from the Lord? Is this problem something I've brought on myself? The longer I grow as a Christian, the more I think I understand that it doesn't really matter the source of your problem. It doesn't matter if the devil brought it on or other people caused it or if you caused it yourself. God will still use it. God has a way of overriding our big mistakes. He works them all out.

God wants to take your greatest failure - that area of greatest failure that you want to hide and keep secret - and He wants to turn it into your greatest strength. He wants to make a life message out of it. What is your area of weakness? Whatever it is, that's what God wants to work on, if you stop regretting, and stop having a pity party and let Him work in your life.

 

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failure, God