Failure Vs. Failed

Sometimes, I look at all the relational and leadership mistakes I’ve made, and I disgust myself. 

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Life is hard and often brutal. Emotionally things are tough at times, and the physical and spiritual challenges many of us face every day are draining. I know I’m not the only person to have a tough year. A few things, like a pandemic, alongside some political and racial unrest, made 2020 terrible. Without question, this will go down as my most challenging year ever. And when you’ve lived as many years as I have (and I survived the 60s), that’s saying a lot. After a blowout with my dear wife a couple of weeks ago, I thought to myself, “I’m a failure.”

I’m a failure as a husband. I’m a failure as a dad. I’m a failure as a friend. I’m a failure as an author. And, I’m a failure as a pastor.

A few of you are thinking right now, Yep, about time that guy figured out how messed up he is! Others might be shaking their heads or picking up the phone to assure me I’m not that bad. (Gee, thanks.) I’ll be clear: I’m not fishing for compliments or wallowing in my misery—no need to call the suicide hotline on my behalf.

I’m just telling you how I feel (at times).

Sometimes, I wonder what’s wrong with me. Sometimes, I question my calling. Sometimes, I look at all the relational and leadership mistakes I’ve made, and I disgust myself. Sometimes, I doubt if my dreams will ever come true. Sometimes, I ponder why I don’t have more friends (or why I lost the ones I had). Sometimes, I read a truly great book (like anything written by Bob Goff), and it makes me wonder why anyone reads anything I’ve written.

I could go on, but you’ve heard enough, I’m sure. Yes, it does sound like a pity-party, huh?

But here’s another thing to consider: Most of you, at some point in your life, have felt the same way.

You look at what you have or don’t have, or at what you’ve done or haven’t done, and you think, I am a failure . . . . (For the .001% who cannot relate, I am truly happy for you, but this blog is for the rest of us who struggle from time to time.)

Okay. So what? Why are you such a Debbie-downer, Kurt? Thanks for sending me into another nosedive, Bubna! If I wanted to face my failures, I’d call my mother! I know. Sorry.

But here’s the point, and I want you to read the next line very slowly:

Just because you fail doesn’t make you a failure.

We all fail. Everyone. Often. It’s called being human. We all blow it (and some of us regularly). Uh, and how can I say this gently? I suggest it’s time you get over the fact that you’re not perfect.

Stop focusing on what you did wrong, and simply keep failing forward. 

In other words, face it, own it, and keep growing. Feeling sorry for yourself and wallowing in self-pity about being a failure is dumb. Whining and self-flagellation is foolish and a waste of time and energy.

Why? Because if the God of the universe says you are okay—you’re okay. (And He does say that about those of us who are in Christ.) If God, who knows everything about everything and knows me better than I know myself says, “Kurt, you are chosen, and special, and royal, and holy” then, who am I to argue with Him? Jesus knows I fail.

God is never as surprised by my failures as I am.

Yet, the one who loves you and me more than His own life never calls us a worthless failure. We fail, but we are not a failure in His eyes. You and I are priceless and precious to our Heavenly Father. We are broken, yes. Imperfect in practice, yep. We fail at times, indeed.

But we never need to live under the label: Failure.



Once we, too, were foolish and disobedient.

We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures.

Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other.

But—when God our Savior revealed his kindness and love,

he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done,

but because of his mercy.

He washed away our sins,

giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.

Titus 3:3-5 (NLT)


This is an updated edition of a post originally published on Kurt Bubna

Featured Image by Tom Crew on Unsplash


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