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Successful Failures

“For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again.”1

Chances are you’ve read about all of the following failures who ended up making a great impact in their chosen field of endeavor.

For example, as a young man Abraham Lincoln went to war as a captain and returned as a private. Winston Churchill failed sixth grade. Thomas Edison's teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” Albert Einstein didn’t speak until he was 4-years-old and didn’t read until he was 7. Louis Pasteur was only a mediocre pupil in undergraduate studies and ranked 15th out of 22 students in chemistry.

Henry Ford failed and went broke five times before he succeeded. F. W. Woolworth was not allowed to wait on customers when he worked in a dry goods store. When Bell telephone was struggling to get started, its owners offered all their rights to Western Union for $100,000. The offer was disdainfully rejected with the pronouncement, “What use could this company make of an electrical toy.”

An expert said of Vince Lombardi: “He possesses minimal football knowledge and lacks motivation.” Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team. Babe Ruth is famous for his past home-run record, but for decades he also held the record for strikeouts.

Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor because “he lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Charles Schultz of “Peanuts” fame had every cartoon he submitted rejected by his high school yearbook staff—and Walt Disney wouldn't hire him. After his first audition, Sidney Poitier was told by the casting director, “Why don't you stop wasting people's time and go out and become a dishwasher or something?” When Lucille Ball began studying to be actress in 1927, she was told by the head instructor of the John Murray Anderson Drama School, “Try any other profession.”2

What we learn from these people is that none of these people gained instant success. They suffered rejection, setbacks and failures—but they had a passion for what they wanted to do and stuck with it until they made it. And for those of us who believe God has a purpose for our life we need to do the same, and in the words of Winston Churchill: “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never, Never, Never, Never give up.”

Suggested prayer: “Dear God, please help me to discover my God-given life purpose and with Your help pursue it with great enthusiasm and never, never, never, never give up. Thank You for hearing and answering my prayer. Gratefully, in Jesus’s name, amen.”

1. Proverbs 24:16 (NKJV).
2. Source: Self-Efficacy Site (website URL no longer working).


All articles on this website are written by
Richard (Dick) Innes unless otherwise stated.