“How Is Failure Part of Life?” - Andy Crouch

Video / Produced by The High Calling

In a highly competitive professional environment, admitting failure is not typically seen as a good idea. We carefully cultivate our own success stories, possibly with very good reasons for doing so. As a result, we have lost a lot of our vocabulary for productively talking about failure.

Andy's right: to succeed creatively, you have to be able to fail creatively. Learning from mistakes, being willing to take risks, exploring uncertain possibilities—if we can't do these things, it's really tough to grow. Doing so takes humility, perseverence, and, most of all, faith.

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I've come to realize that all creativity leads through failure . . . takes you through failure. And some creativity leads you to failure; you just end up in failure. So all creativity requires the willingness to fail, and I don't know any creative endeavor where you don't fail before you succeed . . . at least when you're learning. But as you go on in that field, if you are doing what you're meant to do, the demands get bigger and bigger. The levels of failure that you have to contemplate or go through to get to success get greater and greater. Paul ends up at the end of his life writing, and he says, "Almost everyone I trusted has deserted me." He writes to Timothy and says, "Please come visit me." At that moment in his life—and his life is about to fail, be cut off by the Roman Empire—he looks at most of what he's done and says it's deserted. So the calling to the creative life, to the culture making life is not a calling to more and more clearer success. It's a calling to more and more creativity, which may or may not succeed. All of which is going to put you at risk for failing, and all of which then has to be put in the hands of God.