On November 23, 2008 I was pulled into a meeting with two bosses. It was a short meeting and very direct. I suppose, it’s the only way to have a meeting like that. I have a small journal that I regularly wrote in during that season and I currently keep it in my desk. I took some bullet-point notes during that meeting because I had heard that when someone is giving you tough feedback, you should stay engaged and take notes. The bullet points read like this:
I’m fired from (insert place of work here).
- “Lack of leadership ability”
- “Lack of relational capacity”
- “Questionable work ethic & drive”
- “Youthful arrogance”
(Boss 1) & (Boss 2) believe I’ve “failed.”
Now I don’t’ know if you’ve ever had a game over moment like that, but it can be earth shattering. In that moment, everything I believed about the good work I felt I was doing and the lives that I impacted, none of it mattered, because my direct bosses had lost faith in my ability to do the job I was hired to do.
The question that I had to wrestle with was this:
What do you do with those pesky little words, “You’ve failed?”
If you’ve ever been labeled as someone who failed, chances are you may have internalized that to mean You’re a Failure. And if you’re like me, from an early age, you believed that failure was something you couldn’t come back from. I don’t know if it was the books I read, the movies I watched or the lessons I heard, but for some reason… failure was a dirty word in my brain and when I heard the words, “You’ve failed” what I also heard was, “You are a failure.”
And that is a lie of the enemy.
I’m going to tell you three little truths about failure and identity, and I hope this helps you as you face failure at some point in life or maybe you need this to heal from something in the past.
- Failing doesn’t make you a failure, it makes you more experienced.
- Failure defines a result, it’s not a conclusion.
- Failure defines an act, not a person.
Regardless of the magnitude of your failings, you’re in good company.
Don’t let yourself to be defined, unless your definition is child of God. That’s the only identity that ultimately matters.
After that meeting, on the very next page of my journal, I made my own bullet-point list:
“I have a different perspective…
- I lead differently and it threatens them.
- I see my role as an orchestrator and director, they see it differently.
- They are under financial stress and they need to make cuts.
“His love endures forever…” – Psalm 136”
In other words, I told myself and reminded myself that my identity does not rise and fall on the opinions of men, but on my heavenly Father and His love endures forever.
Your heavenly Father wants you to know the same thing.
In His Love, Micah