Is success the most important thing in life? It depends on how we define success. Many people achieve their goals, but what cost did they pay to achieve them? Was it through deception and betrayal? Was it by abandoning their principles and sacrificing their integrity? Was it by neglecting their family and friends and even forgetting about and, in some cases, outright abandoning God? They may be successful. But ultimately, they are failures. Success can be a form of failure.
King Solomon, who went on a sinful binge, of sorts, said, “Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere” (Ecclesiastes 2:10–11). He had seen it all and done it all, and it didn’t satisfy him.
We can do worse than fail. We can succeed and be personally proud of our successes. We can succeed and worship the accomplishment rather than the One who helped us reach it.
Sometimes failure can be good because we can learn from our mistakes. And failure can be good even when we do something that is wrong—if we learn from it and if we learn to fail forward.
That means after we have done something wrong and have tasted the bitter results of it, we say, “I really don’t want to do that again.” So we put safeguards around our lives, taking precautionary steps to never fall into the same trap. If that is the case, then we have learned something from our failures.