From Failure to Success

When we feel discouraged, we can ask God to help us turn things around. The Bible reveals the causes of spiritual failure and spiritual success.

I remember it like it was yesterday—the thrill I felt when, at 5 years old, I could finally run faster than my older sister. She was four years older than I was, and for the first time I could do something better than she could.

After always feeling unsuccessful, success felt wonderful!

We all want to be successful

Everyone has an inner desire to succeed. This desire can be strong, and at times we can become very competitive. We want to run faster, jump higher and endure longer.

Our goals change as we grow older and we strive to succeed in other areas of life. Some seek success in professions such as health care or business. Some become pilots or astronauts. Others become musicians or authors. But no matter what path we take in life, we all have one common factor—we all want to succeed.

But there is another common factor. No matter how successful we are, sometimes we feel like a failure! Why is that? Are there changes we can make to reduce or eliminate this feeling of failure? Actually, there are changes we can make that will set us on the course for success.

While physical success in life is important, true happiness can only be achieved through spiritual success. Our relationship with our Heavenly Father is a spiritual relationship, and this is the most important area where we must succeed. This website is dedicated to helping people grasp spiritual concepts that touch their lives. Spiritual success is a concept that is extremely important.

God wants us to be successful

Our Creator does not want us to fail or to feel like a failure. He created us with a definite purpose in mind. You can read more about the meaning of our lives in the article “Purpose of Life.”

God provides us with Bible stories to help us learn how to succeed. The children of Israel provide us with many examples of how to succeed (or fail) in fulfilling God’s purpose for us. Their examples can be very enlightening as to why we sometimes feel like a failure. Time after time they rebelled against God and worshipped false gods. Many times they turned away from the way of life God outlined for them.

God is merciful and longsuffering, and He exhorted and encouraged His people to turn back to Him. During the reign of King Zedekiah God allowed Judah to be taken captive into Babylon for 70 years. But after that time He promised to bring them back to their homeland. To encourage them in their captivity, God inspired His prophet Jeremiah to tell them:

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).

God wants us to have hope, to have a future—a successful future.

So what are some things we can do to avoid the emotional anguish of feeling like a failure? Our Creator gives us solid advice on how to accomplish this.

In referring to His inspired words in the Bible, God says, “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success” (Joshua 1:8, emphasis added throughout).

God says we should diligently study His words and spend time thinking deeply about them. If we do this, we will do a much better job living our lives according to His instruction and His way of life. In so doing, God says we will have good success.God says we should diligently study His words and spend time thinking deeply about them. If we do this, we will do a much better job living our lives according to His instruction and His way of life. In so doing, God says we will have good success.

Look only to God for guidance

Doesn’t it seem completely logical that a created being would look to its Creator for guidance? Yet we as humans often fail to make this logical connection. Often we look elsewhere. Often we look to our society and its standards for guidance. However, there is an evil ruler behind our society, Satan (John 14:30). When we unwittingly follow him, we will feel like a failure because, in fact, we are failing.

God tells us that if we will always look to Him for our standards to live by, we will experience blessings in this life and a hope for even greater ones in the life to come. Notice what He inspired to be written about King Uzziah: “He sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God; and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5).

Easier said…

So we must obey God and seek to do His will in order to succeed. But there is a common saying that rings true in this case. The saying is, “It is easier said than done.” We know we should be looking to our Creator for guidance; we should look to Him for standards to live by. He created us and His inspired words are our “user manual” that we must live by. We know this, but we sometimes find it difficult to live by.

The apostle Paul experienced this same frustration in his life. He had a strong desire to obey only God. However, he shared with us in the book of Romans that he, too, sometimes did things according to our society’s standards—according to Satan’s standards.

When Paul slipped up, he, too, felt like a failure. We can find his lament recorded in the Bible for our benefit. Paul said, “For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice” (Romans 7:19).

He continued by describing how he felt like a failure. He said, “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24).

We all can relate to Paul’s feelings of failure. For we, too, walk down this path from time to time.

But Paul did not throw up his hands in defeat. He purposely asked the question, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” so that he could accurately answer it for us.

“I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25). Paul recognized the absolute necessity to look to God our Father and Jesus Christ for direction in our life—based upon God’s truth. Satan has done such a thorough job of deceiving all of mankind (Revelation 12:9) that many have lost sight of God’s truth.

Turn from the traditions of men to the commandments of God

Jesus Christ said, “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). God’s truth comes from God and His Holy Bible. It does not come from the traditions of men. Many people observe pagan traditions of men and justify them as being acceptable to God. But this behavior will always lead to a feeling of failure.

Notice how Jesus described this mentality: “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? … Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy about you, saying: ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth, and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men’” (Matthew 15:3, 6-9).

If you would like to learn more about some of the traditions of men and their origin, be sure to read our article “Holy Days vs. Holidays.”

Action steps

So would you like to make some changes in your life to overcome feelings of failure? If you are serious, God has a plan for you that will work. But it will require effort on your part. You will need to:

  • Study the Bible daily. (Be sure to couple this with prayer and occasional fasting.)
  • Meditate on what God tells you (not what our society tells you).
  • Remember, your worship of God must be based on His truth (the Bible).
  • Turn away from the traditions of men. Turn instead to the holy commandments of God.

Our booklet Change Your Life! offers you some valuable guidance to the passages in God’s Word that will assist you in making these changes. You will notice the difference. And, just as I did as a small boy, you will remember the feelings of success.

Remember, Satan’s standards are a road map to failure. God’s standards are a road map to success!

For more, read the other articles in this section: “Christian Living: Living the Way Jesus Wants.”

About the Author

Larry Lambert

Larry Lambert

Larry Lambert is a pastor for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association.

Read More

Get the Latest

InSights Blog

Get the latest blog posts from Life, Hope & Truth straight to your inbox.


Never miss a post! Sign up to receive the week's latest articles, blog posts and updates.



Discern is published every two months and is available in digital and print versions. Choose your preferred format to start your subscription.

Print subscriptions available in U.S., Canada and Europe


Please choose your region: