I’ve been absent from the blog for nearly two months after over a year of posting either daily or weekly. At first, my health issues took over, and I was just too overwhelmed to post. Then, I started thinking about the direction this blog should take. While I’ll likely still post about ADHD from time to time, for now, I’ve decided to return to the original topic of my blog: my Christian faith. I thought it was only reasonable to be upfront about this for those who may have followed my blog for information about ADHD.
43 Reasons I Don’t Feel Like a Failure
A few weeks ago, there was a discussion on one of my Facebook groups about the fact that many of us feel like a failure on an ongoing, daily basis. I mentioned that I used to feel like a failure all the time but had experienced some victory in my life in this area recently. I promised to share more about that victory. It has taken me a few weeks to compile this list of verses and explanation why I don’t feel like a failure.
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: I’m a huge failure. I’m a failure because of my sin –a failure who is in desperate need of a Savior because I was dead in my trespasses and sins until Jesus saved me. Everyone on this entire planet is. This failure is the leveling of the playing field. Everyone is a failure in need of a Savior.
When other people make us feel like failures by pointing out our failure-ness, they’re either
1) not saved and don’t know that everyone including themselves is failures
2) unsaved religious people who think that their works will save them
3) saved people who think that their works make them better than other people or make them closer to God.
(Another option is that we actually have sin in our lives. I’ll address that in a minute.)
Even Paul, who was a pretty amazingly awesome Christian and actually talked to Jesus called himself “the chief among sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). Anyone going around making other Christians feel inferior does not have a godly attitude or the mind of Christ which would first and foremost include humility.
“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:5-8
The following are 43 verses (in a somewhat random order) that help me when I’m tempted to feel like I’m failing at life. I’m not a failure, because… well, you’ll have to read the list for yourself:
1. Everything will work out for my good if I’m actually saved. He has a plan and a purpose for those who are His. That plan is that we become like Christ, and that plan has been in place since the beginning of time.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom He predestined He also called, and those whom He called He also justified, and those whom He justified He also glorified.” Romans 8:28-30
2. I’m surrendered to God’s will on earth whatever it may be.
“In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
As we forgive our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
3. Like Mary, Jesus’ mother, I’m surrendered to God’s will even if it makes me look bad. When, by God’s Spirit, Mary was found to be miraculously pregnant while still a virgin, she declared that she would surrender herself to God’s will even though in her culture and under Hebrew law she faced possible stoning for what others would see as her failing and falling into sin (because she was pregnant out of wedlock). You can read the whole story in Luke 1.
“And Mary said, ‘Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your word.’ And the angel departed from her.” Luke 1:38
4. No matter what goes wrong, God knows, and He’s taking care of me.
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.” Luke 12:6-7
5. God knows exactly what’s going to happen. He’s in control.
“[Man’s] days are determined, and the number of his months is with You, and You have appointed his limits that he cannot pass.” Job 14:5
6. God has given us everything we need for true, godly success. If I don’t have it, I don’t need it. If it seems that I need something for success that I don’t have, I am probably judging myself by human standards and not Biblical or eternal standards.
“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence.” 2 Peter 1:3
7. God knows my thoughts, my heart, and my intentions. He knows what’s going to happen before it even happens. Any struggle of mine is no surprise to Him.
“O Lord, You have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You discern my thoughts from afar.You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it.” Psalm 139:1-6
8. Before I was even born, God knew what was going to happen.
“I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:14-16
9. Everything, even our trials and troubles –even evil people we encounter– have a purpose in God’s plan.
“The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.” Proverbs 16:4
10. God uses that which seems useless to mortal, sinful man in His plan. So, what may seem to be failings to those around us can still be used of God. Often times, we don’t even understand what God is doing so that we can’t boast.
“For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:25-29
11. Those around us who are not saved will not understand what God is doing in our lives because God’s ways are beneath man to understand.
“The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit.” 1 Corinthians 2:14
12. God is doing greater things than we can even imagine through His power at work in us. How can I allow myself to be discouraged by feelings of failure when Scripture says that He is working in me?
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:21
13. I’m not big enough or strong enough to upset God plans.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9
14. Even if I fail, God will sustain me.
“The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again.” Proverbs 24:16a
15. God is directing my path and leading my way. How can I be a failure if God is leading me?
“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.” Psalm 37:23-24
16. Even great men like Paul struggled with their own shortcomings. It didn’t keep God from using them in mighty and incredible ways.
“I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do… What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.” Romans 7:15, 24-25
17. If I’m Christ’s, God doesn’t condemn me. He looks at me and sees the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ covering my sin. If God doesn’t condemn me, why do I let myself or anyone else condemn me or make me feel like a failure? The only opinion that matters is His.
“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2
18. God allows weakness, and shortcomings in our lives to keep us humble and dependent upon Him. So that if anything good happens, we will give praise to God and not ourselves.
“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
19. Even when I physically can’t do anymore and am at my end, God is my strength and He is my eternal reward which is far more important than this physical life now. I can comfort myself with this fact.
“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 37:26
20. I have only truly failed if I fail to remain faithful to Christ until the end.
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: 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. Philippians 3:13-14
21. Oftentimes I feel like a failure because those who have the world’s values are judging me by their value system. If they hated Jesus and the things He stood for, they aren’t going to appreciate me when I hold to the same values He had. Unfortunately, even many who claim to be Christians also have values that are not in line with Christ.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you.” John 15:18
22. Our Christian lives are based upon grace –God’s favor that we can’t earn and don’t deserve. We aren’t good enough: but God loves us anyway! We shouldn’t feel like we are beneath everyone else. We should live in the grace. If there is real, actual, Bible-verse-to-back-it-up sin, we should absolutely address it. But, most of the time, when we feel like a failure and that we are not good enough, it is because we fail to understand that we were never meant to be good enough. We were meant to throw ourselves, our not-goodness, onto His mercy and grace. If I was good enough, I wouldn’t need Him, I would get the glory, and He wouldn’t be glorified in my life.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” Ephesians 2:4-8
23. God is continually giving me mercy in spite of my struggles.
“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 2:22-23
24. God knows we are human, fallible, and sinful. He is compassionate and atones for us (ie: makes reparation for our failings).
“Their heart was not steadfast toward Him; they were not faithful to His covenant. Yet He, being compassionate, atoned for their iniquity and did not destroy them; He restrained His anger often and did not stir up all His wrath. He remembered that they were but flesh, a wind that passes and comes not again.” Psalm 78:37-39
25. In the Parable of the Talents about the master and his servants, the only servant who was a failure was the one who hid his talents (his faith and spiritual gifts) and didn’t use them for the master (God). Unless you are hiding your talents and not living your faith, you are not a failure. You can read the whole parable in Matthew 25:14-30.
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” Matthew 25:21
26. This earthly life is meant to be a battle with struggles –Paul calls it a fight. There is no reward mentioned for those who never struggle and have smooth sailing. Struggling isn’t failing. Struggling is fighting! The goal is to stay true to Jesus through the struggle. The only way not to struggle is to give up. For the Christian, that is not an option.
“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:6-8
27. Even great Bible men could have felt like failures– if they had let themselves if they didn’t understand that everything that happens is God working in our lives. To many people, Paul’s description in the following passage would seem like failure. It certainly wasn’t living a great life by human standards
“Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.” 2 Corinthians 11:24-31
28. Whatever is happening in my life serves God’s greater and higher purpose that He can understand, but I cannot.
“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8-9
29. Even if the Lord allows me to be a failure by human standards, I should be content with whatever use He has for me. He created me for a purpose that I do not understand, but what I do know is that I don’t have the right to ask the Almighty God why He has chosen to make me a certain way.
“But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” Romans 9:20-21
30. I shouldn’t resent how the Lord is using me or question Him, because –as the Maker– He has the right to do with my life as He pleases even if my life looks like a failure to those who judge me by human standards.
“Woe to him who strives with Him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, ‘What are you making?’ or ‘Your work has no handles’?” Isaiah 45:9
31. We are all failures at life because of sin. It is only by God’s grace that we have life and victory over sin. We were dead in our trespasses and sins until Jesus found us. Now, everything we do is because of Him because He made us alive.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” Ephesians 2:4-6
32. Everything we do is because He is in us, sustaining us. How can I feel like a failure when He is living in me?
“For ‘In Him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are indeed His offspring.’” Acts 17:28
33. The life I am leading is actually Christ living in me. Would I actually call Christ a failure? Of course not.
“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
34. If my failure is actually a sin (i.e. if I can find a properly applied chapter and verse in the Bible that says it is sin –not just someone’s opinion), then I can ask for forgiveness and He is faithful to forgive.
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9
35. God’s word comforts us when we are down. When I feel like a failure, I can turn to Scripture for comfort and understanding.
“Your words are what sustain me; they are food to my hungry soul. They bring joy to my sorrowing heart and delight me. How proud I am to bear Your name, O Lord.” Jeremiah 15:16
36. Feeling like a failure is not a feeling of peace. God gives us peace. Trust Him, His timing, and His ways.
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” Colossians 3:15
37. In Joseph’s life, there was difficulty after difficulty, but even things that others did to intentionally try to harm him (such as his brothers selling him into slavery) God used for good. This tells us that God is able to use even the difficult, frustrating, overwhelming, and horrible situations in our lives. While He may not make us assistant rulers of a kingdom like He did Joseph, He can still make some good come from it. You can read the whole story of Joseph and how God worked in his life in Genesis 37-47.
“As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20
38. If God is sovereign even over the rulers of the nations of the earth, He is definitely sovereign over my life, and nothing that happens is out of His control. I don’t need to fear that my failings will upset His plans. You can read the whole story about Daniel and King Nebuchadnezzar that this verse is taken from in Daniel 4.
“The Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom He will and sets over it the lowliest of men.” Daniel 4:17
39. Because of God’s grace and justification, no one can condemn me. There is nothing anyone can do or say to take away God’s love from me. Regardless of who accuses me, I’m victorious in Christ.
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:31-39
40. The command to us as believers in Christ is to gather for ourselves eternal treasures. That means that we will seem poor –and seem to be making poor choices– to those around us who are not saved because they do not have eternal goals like we do. We will seem like failures to them, but that is because they do not live in light of eternity.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21
41. This next passage is talking to believers about how they live their lives. We know it’s to believers because verse 15 says “he will be saved.” Basically, the things that we do with our lives with be tested one day to see if they have eternal value. Anything that’s eternal (influencing souls, developing my own character, encouraging other believers, witnessing, etc) will last, but anything that is temporal (how clean I kept my house, how nice of a car I had, if my hair was done, how much schoolwork my kids did, etc) is all temporal and will burn because it doesn’t have lasting value beyond this life.
“According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 1 Corinthians 3:10-15
42. This prayer of the Psalmist has been my prayer for many years: that God would help me to continually see that my time here on this earth is short and that I should be grateful for the years I have even if during those years I’m afflicted by illness and see evil in this world. I have prayed that I would use the time I have wisely, focusing on eternity and what has eternal value, because there are no do-overs in Heaven.
“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Return, O Lord! How long? Have pity on Your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with Your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as You have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.” Psalm 90:12-17
43. In any areas in which we do fail, the Spirit helps us, interceding for us.
“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” Romans 8:26-27
These scriptures and many more help me keep my focus on eternal things, on God’s values. I feel the worst about myself when I start to judge myself by the world’s values or values that falsely claim to be the Bible (but are not really). With God’s values, I’m wrapped in His grace and His love if I’m saved. If I am focused on eternal things and living for Jesus, I am not a failure.
If you’re not saved, or not sure that you’re saved, please follow this link. The Gospel was written so that we may know we have eternal life. It isn’t enough to whisper some prayer, but if you’re actually saved the proof of that salvation is that you will become progressively more like Jesus Christ. For instance, the fruit of the Holy Spirit as listed in Galations 5:22-23 will become part of who you are. If you are not exhibiting fruits of the Spirit, you need to reevaluate if you are really saved.
It is my prayer that this list will encourage and strengthen my sisters in Christ who are being made to feel like failures for not living up to the world’s standard. You, my friends, have a higher calling, an eternal calling in Jesus!
If you’re struggling with yourself worth in Christ or feeling like a failure, please comment (make sure your name is included) and I’ll pray for you. I would be honored to lift you up to the Lord. I also covet your prayers as my health issues are significant.
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