Nobody likes to lose or to mess up in life, but it is a reality and part of life. Even the scriptures tell us that those who follow God in righteous paths will fall from time to time, but the difference is rising again to get back in the race of life. As the saying goes, “you can’t keep a good man down.”
Proverbs 24:16 (ESV) — 16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.
The question then for all of us is: how are you going to “pick up the pieces and get back in the race?” The road to a strong and confident comeback begins with assessment. There are a few questions to ask when things have not turned out as you’d like:
- What was outside of my control?
- Did I really give my best effort?
- What could I have done differently?
- What is something good about this situation? (or could be good)
- How can I come back stronger and better?
When we consider things outside of our control, we have to consider the efforts and the condition of others involved as well as the outside influence upon the situation. Sometimes we may overlook the other people that have influenced our outcome or other outside influences. We may see teammates who have not given a full effort but never consider what they are going through in life. We consider fellow employees or supervisors who have operated with less than stellar integrity. We may even see how the circumstances from weather or even culture have taken a toll on our expected outcome. The bottom line is this: who is really in control? God is in control. If He has allowed you to fail, fall, or flounder, He has a purpose that is higher than you may understand.
Isaiah 55:8–9 (ESV) — 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Deuteronomy 32:4 (ESV) — 4 “The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he.
James 1:17 (ESV) — 17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.
Romans 8:28–31 (ESV) — 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 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. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
What is His higher purpose? To conform our character to that of the Lord Jesus Christ. He uses our successes and our losses in life for our good. He is perfect so we need not question Him, especially when we consider what all He has done and has planned for our glorious future with Him. God is for us!
The real question after all is said and done is: “Have I really done my best?” This is called giving ourselves to excellence rather than perfection. Too many times we are unrealistic in our expectation of ourselves, so we beat ourselves up when we haven’t achieved the picture of perfection in our performance or situation. In reality, God is the only perfect being. As it says above in Deuteronomy 32:4, “all His ways are perfect.”
Philippians 3:12–15 (ESV) — 12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you.
You and I are not perfect so the judgment we should have in our performance is not whether it was perfect, but did we give it our best. If not, then the next question in the line of personal assessment needs to apply, “what could I have done differently?” Again, this is not time to beat up yourself; rather it takes the defeat as a learning experience to make you better instead of bitter.
As you assess the situation in a post defeat or setback, it’s also good to ask yourself – what is something good about this situation, or what could be good about it? We often say in a way of consolation that there is a lining of good in every situation so why not step back and look for something good, even if means saying “what could be good?” meaning you can’t see it now but maybe it’s there. God back to God’s promise to work all things together for good in Romans 8 and take your eyes off your defeat as you focus on God’s ultimate purpose for your life and future.
Finally, a focus on coming back from defeat stronger and better means you are not letting the setback stop you as you determine to come back. Perhaps it means you change your strategy or your focus to include strength training for your mind and spirit as well as you body. Perhaps it means renewing your focus on spiritual things. Whatever it is that needs to change about you personally will mean you come back stronger and better than if you had not experienced the temporary setback.
Applying these five principles to a setback of any sort will result in an improvement in your confidence as you face the next challenge. Don’t let a setback make you bitter by focusing on the defeat or beating yourself up, rather use it to make you better as you assess the situation and apply what you discover.