How to Compost Your Failures

This is a guest post by Mary DeMuth. She is an author, speaker and book mentor. She has published twelve books, including her most e-book recent, The 11 Secrets of Getting Published, and her most recent novel, The Muir House. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

I lamented that I’d let weeds take over my flowerbeds. I didn’t have garbage can space, and my composter died in a windstorm, so I was left with a pile of uprooted weeds. They screamed failure to me.

A Compost Pile - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jml5571, Image #16223881

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/jml5571

That is, until God whispered, “You can compost them right there. They can mulch the dry soil. Provide natural fertilizer.”

I thought about that a moment and realized God was telling me something compelling. In essence He was saying, “Compost your failures.”

Truth: Your failures, whether they’re relational, vocational or ministry-related, are fodder for future growth. They are not wasted. Used properly and with the right perspective they become the very thing your success feeds off.

But how can we compost our failures? Four ways:

  1. Use your situation to exercise your optimism muscle. As Thomas Edison famously said, “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.” See your failure as an opportunity to change the way you talk to yourself.

    Instead of saying, “I’m a loser” (which is not true), compost the failure by saying, “I’m closer to the next goal” or “At least I know that tact doesn’t work.” For more thoughts on this, read this quick post about killing catastrophic thinking.

  2. See the failure as a holy redirection. Here’s where a healthy view of God’s sovereignty over your life benefits you. Perhaps the failure was God’s way of redirecting your focus.

    In one period of my writing career, I focused quite a bit on marketing techniques, none of which worked for me. Over and over I’d try proven techniques only to fail, fail, fail with absolutely no return-on-investment for the effort. At my lowest point, I realized that if I had performed all the right marketing steps and succeeded, I would’ve taken glory for it.

    Instead, I learned to redirect, to first lay every effort before Jesus, to let Him be the director of my career. My failures resulted in His much needed redirection. Your failure may be a beautiful gift, as it uncovers the idols in your life.

  3. In the failure, be proactive and ask a coach or trusted friend to look at the situation from the outside. You may have a blind spot you’ve not been able to detect, something that’s held you back for years. You may have failed several times in the same way.

    A trusted business coach will be able to ask the right kinds of questions to help you discern what needs to change in your life. If you’re willing to grow beyond your issue, you’ll no longer sabotage your success.

  4. Realize that long-lasting kingdom success comes when God shows up in your weakness. We wrongly think that to be successful in life we must perfect ourselves, walk through all sorts of self-improvement hoops. But the beauty of the gospel is that God’s strength is only made perfect in our weakness. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

    When we are strong, we push out God. But when we are weak (which is often the case in the midst of failure), God can show up. He can move through us to change lives. He can do the impossible. Remember the old quote, “When God wants to do an impossible task, He takes an impossible person and breaks him.”

Failure is a gateway to new things. It’s the stepping stone to new life. Seen properly and discerned rightly, our failures will be the very things we look back on with affection, thankful for a God who lets dreams die, composts them, then creates wildly beautiful life from their death.

Question: How have you seen God use your failures? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com Patricia Zell

    Failure is the springboard for success–life is nothing but a trail of trial and error. Or, in other words, success rarely happens the first time out–time and effort are far more important than just having a great idea. For myself, my favorite and most frequent prayer is, “Father, I have no knowledge, understanding, and wisdom about this situation. Please give me Your knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.” God is faithful.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      True, success is usually hardwon after much trial and error.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Thanks for the prayer quote Patricia!

  • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

    Though I had been successful in my last job (Children’s Pastor), things were getting harder and harder for me. I knew it, the elders knew it. The job had been changing, and it no longer fit who I was.

    This led to me transitioning off of staff, and for the past year I’ve been working with at-risk kids in the most impoverished area in our state. It’s still challenging, but I love that our family is together in this ministry opportunity, plus it’s closer to the passions and skills of both my wife and I.

    http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Enjoyed reading your blog. I like how a “pessimist” pokes fun at himself. Your blog has a clear focus–ministry in Allendale County–and offers to inform a reader of the challenge of working with at-risk kids. I hope you continue to find joy in your journey as you serve the Lord in a special way.

      • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

        Thanks for reading the blog. Funny that you mentioned “joy” — just this morning I was reading about how giving to the Lord is an act of worship, and sharing with others should be out of joy. Needed that reminder, especially after “pessimistically” looking at the data about this area.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Very cool that you noticed how your job was morphing away from you. I’m glad you have a missional family and are serving Him in that.

    • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

      Thanks for sharing this story of encouragement. Hope you are enjoying the current role of unit director.

      • http://missionallendale.wordpress.com/ Joey Espinosa

        I have been enjoying it, though I am now transitioning out of that role as well. I believe that God is honing me, to narrow in on where He wants me.

  • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

    God worked amazingly through a semi-failed business venture.

    I had been released from a job at a bookstore and I thought it was the perfect time to launch a computer repair business. Well, I did not do well on my own.

    After struggling for 2 or 3 years, God opened a door through a friend. He had heard about the work I was trying to do. He invited me to come work with him part time doing IT work at a business.

    A few years later he left the position. However, before leaving, he asked me to take on his old position full time.

    God used my failure to move me from a low paying job to meager pay to doubling my income.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      That is a wonderful story, Joe! Thanks for sharing it. Glad you have a good job!

      • http://www.jmlalonde.com Joe Lalonde

        You’re welcome Mary. It was a trying time for sure but in the end it turned to a blessing.

        Now I’m wondering where he will lead me next.

  • http://tangoleadership.wordpress.com/ PoulAndreassen

    There are certain things you
    do not realize until you read them, and through your article I have come to
    realize those few but interesting and effective way to personal developmemt.

    I liked the quote “When God wants to do an
    impossible task, He takes an impossible person and breaks him.”

    Thanks once again!!

     

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Poul, glad I could put words to your realizations!

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      True! God used the down and out.

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    Thanks, Mary, for some good thought fertilizer (and I mean that in a positive way). I know failure has made me teachable and teachable has made me learn some important lessons. If I’d had early success, I think I would not have found so much joy in the writing journey. I’m still not successful in the publishing world but, as you suggest, I have a greater love for writing and a deeper love for my main writing Influence, Jesus Christ.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I have said the same things in terms of my books selling. Had my first book been wildly successful, who knows what that would’ve done to my heart.

  • Pingback: How To Compost Your Failures | Charlie Lyons

  • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

    Aptly said and timed, Mary. I have a 10 year old ministry that is extremely sluggish, and it may just be time to start a compost pile. Good news is that other opportunities are opening up.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yeah, sometimes God uses failure as redirection and sometimes He asks for perseverance. May He show you the next step.

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      How’s the compost pile coming, Chris?

      • http://www.jeubfamily.com Chris Jeub

        I redesigned the ministry website (www.trainingminds.org), which should help some. Things are still trucking along, but I have had to take on some parttime work. Thanks for asking, Ben!

        • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

          The site looks great! Might it help to have your “Stay connected for free” prompt on each article as well?

          Press on!

  • http://twitter.com/andersencarol Carol Andersen

    insightful and encouraging!  Thank you Mary

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      You are most welcome, Carol.

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    Compost your failures! Brilliant. Going to use this one in my course teaching managers on leadership and collaboration. 
    About #3, coaching. As a sometime coach, I recommend giving the coach a good briefing and then be specific about where you want insights. Coaches light up the path without telling us what to do. If you want to be told to do, ask for mentoring.  

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Well this makes me happy. So glad I could be a part of your leadership training!

      Yes, asking for specific mentoring is very helpful.

  • Steve_karum

    In my short life I’ve seen how failure shapes my thinking. In looking back I remember and that memory cuts a new ‘rut in the road’ of my planning, self talk, and prayer. 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I do so much planning that God can’t get a word in edgewise! :)

  • http://www.lifeofasteward.com Loren Pinilis

    Your emphasis on God using failures to keep us humble is insightful and encouraging. I’ve noticed the same thing in my life. Often times, the failures were when I was trying to do things in my own power. It hurt to fall flat on my face, but now I’m glad God let me.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yes, oh yes how I resonate. I’m glad God’s grace catches us.

  • Mark

    My use of alcohol and subsequent addiction destroyed me
    mentally, emotional, physically, materially and spiritually.  However once I  surrendered my life  to God’s  and turned over my will and my care to Him my
    life has totally changed.   The beauty of
    the experience is that God has made me fit for His service and to be of service
    to others.   As a person who has
    recovered from a seemingly hopeless life I have become well equipped to
    understand the person who is addicted, understand the root causes of that addition
    and I am in a place where I can, with God’s help, help someone who may die from
    their addiction.   My worst nightmare has
    turned into my biggest asset.  And that
    well earned empathy is helpful in all areas of my walk with God, not just
    addiction.   There is a spiritual
    solution for every problem!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      That’s the beauty of redemption…watching God turn our darkness into His light.

  • Jill Farris

     Really great article.  May the Lord be the strength in our weakness so that we can point back to Him and say, “He did it!” (2 Corinthians 12:9). I can say that same thing with my parenting; 8 children with two immature, selfish parents and, by the Grace of God, they are kind, loving and Jesus centered!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yes! And 8 children! You go, girl!

  • Sweetie

    As an educator, failure on a learner may mean many things, it may be they were unprepared, it may be a lack of focus, a stress block, or behavior pattern that doesn’t allow focus. It may be an inappropriate expectation, a modality issue, or something as simple as no fuel from skipping breakfast. The evaluation isn’t about who is best or worst, its about the measuring the skills of objectives.  In the very failing, the measuring allows the needs to be discovered, the vulnerability to be uncovered. Often though, the responsibility involved much more than the current situation in class, home, or instructor…situations outside that moment’s reach contributed to the experience.  When we fail, we often take on enormous personal responsibility, guilt, etc for our failure, and while personal inadequacies, skills, and choices need to be reviewed, when it may just be that it is not our time to go in that direction or not the direction that was our path. It may have involved inappropriate expectations or impossible roles in a project. If we truthfully review situations, at times we were in a “no win” situation outside whatever we personally contributed to the success or failure of a past experience.  Other times we made choices that directly fueled our failure.  The gift of failing is the opportunity to identify that which is ours to own, both productive and unproductive in our lives, and the choice to learn from it or seek learning where needed.

    Personally, while my failures have never been a welcome experience, the release that was present in retrospect and the peace that the change of direction they brought to the table were now obviously for my good. Mary, thank you for the gift of cultivating us through your writing.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I love that you brought this back to the classroom. I bet a lot of us have experienced failure there and let it be a noose.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    I always enjoy your posts, Mary. This one hits especially close to home. Failure is the best teacher, and one of the best places to fail is Toastmasters. There is nothing more embarrassing than failing in front of a group of people while doing a speech or presentation. It’s one of my worst fears. Yet over the years, my Toastmasters club has rescued me from unexpected failures from time to time. They are always encouraging and give me great evaluations and tips to get better. I can honestly say these failures have been my best learning experiences. The great thing about Toastmasters is you can practice your presentation there and correct it before you go live at work, church, or in front of a paid audience.

    In reference to your post, we had a newer member at Toastmasters give a memorable speech about composting a few months back. He passed compost made from household scraps around and showed us how easy it was to do. He also showed us the great flowers that it produced. Composting is the ideal metaphor for our failures, because without it we’ll never bloom.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I agree. Failure can be a great teacher. Kudos to you for staying in Toastmasters and learning!

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    Success is great but failure is where we connect.  Everyone has experienced failure, we’ve just got to be willing to share it and learn from it.

    Thanks for this post, Mary!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      My pleasure.

  • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

    I failed when I went to college.  Fortunately, the Holy Redirection kicked in and became apparent in my life.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Love that, Ben. Glad the holy redirection gave clarity.

  • Michelle66 Quinn

    Great post. Perfect timing.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Glad to hear that, Michelle.

  • Anonymous

    Mary,

    I love the idea that our failures need a paradigm shift. Most of us will get 10 words of affirmation/praise, and yet we hold onto our failures and criticism allowing them to paralyze us in fear.  I wonder though (out loud) if this is a message that you can only “hear” when you get to a certain age? I don’t think I could have heard this message in my 20′s.  That is certainly not true for all 20 somethings-

    Anyway, great post! Keep up the great work!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I still struggle (and I’m double 20s)! But I do believe it’s a choice. I can choose to freak out about the one negative comment, or I can see what God has to say through it and move on.

      • Anonymous

        That’s good stuff.  The moving on is the hard part! Ha, good reminder to all of us, thanks!

    • http://twitter.com/thegospelwriter Wanza Leftwich, TGW

      I was just thinking this morning how when someone shows you love, it is remember at the moment but if they criticize you it can be remembered for a lifetime. 

      • Anonymous

        thegospelwriter,

        Yeah, I am with you 100%!

        • Anonymous

          Barryhilljr,

          Thanks for your insight this morning!

    • Anonymous

      Barryhilljr, Jon Acuff covered this very thing in a couple of posts – here is the one I found for you: Quit giving the haters PhDs. | Jon Acuff’s Blog He also talks somewhere about “critic’s math”  - how 1000 compliments + 1 criticism = 1 criticism. Read, laugh, think! (He is So Very Right!)

      • Anonymous

        Cabinart,
        Thanks for that- I’m gonna go check it out on his blog now! Not sure why I didn’t see it in my RSS feed.

  • http://struggletovictory.wordpress.com Kari Scare

    This is a great post on how to take what seems like a negative and turn it into a positive by the grace of God. I especially like what you said about “Your failure may be a beautiful gift, as it uncovers the idols in your life.” That has been proven to be true so many times for me. I also realized that I focus too much on self-improvement at times, which can take the focus off of God’s working in my life. I need to focus first on Him and then on the changes He wants me to make as He leads me toward perfection. Thank you Jesus!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I’ve sometimes been guilty (well, maybe a lot of times) of managing my own relationship with God instead of letting Him be in control. Great point.

  • http://www.facebook.com/BarbaraIsaacCroce Barbara Isaac Croce

    love this post! Failure is not a failure unless I say it is.  Failure is simply a sign that I must re-evaluate what is happening.
    Visiting fromwww.mylifeasanadventure.com

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Great point, Barbara!

  • Djl4009

    Hi – I had two mini-failures in ministry this very week, back to back, and for awhile they gnawed at me…until early this morning (like 4:54am!) when God redirected my thinking. In both instances, I needed a ‘paradigm shift’, a new way to approach my teaching and my planning, which He gave me. If the failures hadn’t occurred, I would never have questioned my assumptions or methods for doing my work – it was the failures that motivated me to look for the corrective approaches of doing what I am tasked with doing. So now, I am energized instead of demoralized, as I anticipate how God will work through these new approaches.

    Thanks for your article – its wonderful reinforcement! I’m printing it out and keeping it on my desk…in case I need it for the next ‘failure’.
     

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I’m so thankful this article reinforced what God was already doing.

  • sue k

    I love this analogy. And it is the perfect time of year to ask God what should be plowed under to fertilize new seeds. God has laid the verse, from 2 Cor 12 on my heart lately, “…for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Timely reminder.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      True, Sue! That reminds me I need to attend to my garden!

  • http://twitter.com/thegospelwriter Wanza Leftwich, TGW

    “If you’re willing to grow beyond your issue, you’ll no longer sabotage your success.” Such a timely word for me – I had to do something today that I did not want to do. It dealt with my ‘issue’. However, I did what was right because I don’t want to travel this road again. After reading this post, I definitely know I made the right decision. I’m thanking God that I no longer sabotage my success. 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Yeah, I hate it when I have to circle back around to an issue because I still haven’t learned my lesson. :(

  • SHINE EYE dee

    ive had many many failures each time a new adventure sometimes hard sad or even funny. I somehow became a singer after gettng a degree in design then being told im going blind. I love singing its still hard sometimes im still trusting and living with my dreams never believed id be doing this , i put believing and trusting to the test and ive done two main stage festivals didnt start til i was 40 years old no training just faith, ive recorded three tracks for a famous man, ive been approached by american tv and radio its strange. I no longer live by fervant work and selfish gain instead im evolving into what i dont know yet. I gave up the fight and now just go along with what feels right in my heart .  
    SHINE EYE dee   

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing that. Keep singing!

  • http://www.facebook.com/lafreeland Lori Karvasale Freeland

    Great post, Mary. I’m hating the social media/marketing this week. I needed to hear that:)

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      That part of the writing journey can be extremely frustrating. Hang in there.

  • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

    For years, I nurtured attitude crops of apathy, anger, and contempt toward my husband, blaming him for my failure to thrive. When I finally recognized “our” farming failures as my own and asked God to plow and re-plant my heart, a hearty new marriage sprang to life (now twenty-three years, still growing strong!)

    But then I had lingering worries about the impact of my old attitudes and actions on our children. Had I scarred them for life?

    Three years ago, our daughter wrote us an anniversary letter that still brings tears of humble gratitude. I’d only hoped that our kids could “get past” our past. But her words gave Romans 8:28 new depth as she described what she’d learned from my failures and how she’d witnessed God’s power to transform decay into new life.

    http://cherionethingivelearned.blogspot.com/2009/08/gift-of-grace-daughters-thanks.html

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      What a gift your daughter gave you. Isn’t it cool how God even uses our parenting failures to grow our kids?

  • http://twitter.com/meganwillome Megan Willome

    My failures? That’s really all I have to offer.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      So true.

  • http://www.melissaknorris.com Melissa K Norris

    For years I wrote towards the goal of landing an agent and a publishing contract for years. It wasn’t until I asked God what His plan was and asked for His direction, instead of my own will, that things changed for me. In fact, I just wrote a post sharing how God used my ectopic (tubal) pregnancy to reach me and bring me under His wing, which led me to my agent. http://melissaknorris.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/how-god-uses-hardships-for-good/

    Thanks for sharing, Mary.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      What a hard, good story! Congrats on landing Barbara Scott as an agent. She’s terrific.

  • Ramon Presson

    It’s the imagery of composting that opens chapter5 of my book, “When Will My Life Not Suck?”  (pp.45-46)

    “Compost is death in a container. But compost death is quite alive, breeding, simmering, cooking up an overly ripe soup that is absolute dessert for plants and shrubs. It reminds me of a Japanese proverb: “Don’t waste your pain but burn it as fuel for your journey”.  When a commodity is very costly, you don’t waste it. Think about what your painful experience cost you ( peace, trust, time, self-confidence, money, health, a relationship, a dream). To merely bury it or move beyond it is to some degree wasteful. There is much to be learned for your own edification and renewal, but you also become an valuable and credible resource to others.” 

    By the way, one of the best “composting experts” I know is the Apostle Paul who took both his pre-conversion achievements and status, as well as his guilt & shame, his failures, crises & thorns and churned it all up into a life giving additive that transformed the soil of men and of history. And still does.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Great paragraph about composting! Woot!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this post, Mary. I’m considering your #2, since I have been focusing on marketing for awhile and not seeing any tangible results. And, I’m wondering if there is a pattern, and who might be able to see it for me. Ick. More fun to just go to work!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Marketing is very frustrating sometimes because we don’t always see tangible results. I’m so sorry! I’m so there.

  • http://www.chrisbranscome.com Chris Branscome

    First of all, thank you for coming up with something to replace all of the old tired cliches for “learn from your mistakes.”  “Compost your mistakes” implies more than learning, and encompasses the fact that mistakes themselves can be steps forward, not just educational opportunities.

    It’s encouraging to read this, and it resonates the way I’ve been thinking about recent events.  I’ve been seeking a new career direction, and a way to move away from Houston, but so far, the doors I’ve pushed on haven’t opened.  While this hasn’t been due to mistakes, these closed doors, like mistakes, could be discouraging, but it’s been helpful to think of them as God giving me direction.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Redirection is hard, isn’t it? Especially when the way forward isn’t clear. Hang in there.

  • http://www.failuresneverfinal.com Colleen (FNF)

    I praise God that he led me to find this blog – the posts are often just what I need to read at that exact moment.  Today’s post makes me think of the quote (that I just put up on my site today!) that says: “Failure is an event, never a person.”  What a great reminder that we are not defined by the events that unfold in our lives – the failures nor the victories.  We are God’s children and we ARE exactly what we need to be.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Great, great quote!

  • http://golfwisdomlife.com Larry Galley

    Mary – As a guy who recently had two auto accidents within a twelve hour period, both his fault and the second totaling his car  (no one seriously hurt and insurance not cancelled – thank you God), I can vouch for the sanity and appropriateness of your suggested approach as excellent triage for the spirit.  Thanks for putting it into words.

    Larry Galley

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Oh my Larry. Ouch! So sorry you went through that.

  • http://www.katyabaxter.com Katya Baxter

    Mary, thank you for these words. We all need a reminder to continue to push forward in faith without dwelling on the past failures and let the Lord do what he needs to do in us in the process. 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks Katya. You have a pretty name.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    God has used my failures.  And he’s had plenty to choose from.  But even though I can see him use them, it sometimes doesn’t lessen the sting of failure, at least not for me.  But, in spite of me, things still happen here to build the Kingdom.  Thanks for the encouragement. 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I’m with you. I don’t like failing either. :(

  • http://www.jennajeske.com Jenna Jeske

    Over the past 3-4 years, God has taken everything away from me that I found worth in besides Him.  I’ve definitely felt like a failure many times, but God has redeemed my struggles and has taught me about contentment and finding my worth in Him only.
    In May of 2008 I graduated from University.  I had applied to graduate school to get my Psy.D.  I didn’t get in.  I was devastated and thought my life was over.  Then, I was given the opportunity to move 25 hours away to Saskatchewan, Canada to work at an inner-city ministry.  I ended up meeting my husband here – he is the most wonderful man God could have ever blessed me with.  But our first 2 years of marriage were frought with painful trials – ministry burnout for both of us, job loss, depression, major financial struggles, 2 painful church splits, and 2 miscarriages.  On August 30th, we celebrated our second anniversary, and through everything that has happened, we have grown so much closer to God and closer to each other.  I now have true contentment, peace, and so much joy! 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      How amazing that His redirection meant blessing and growth for you.

  • http://www.facebook.com/walter.sawatzky Walter Sawatzky

    Mary, this piece is rich!  I have seen and experienced the value of an “outside” perspective (your third #) many times both as life coach and client.   The coach’s incisive questions and direct feedback can speed up and enrich the composting process…    We have a worm composter in the basement which produces a steady supply of highly potent “castings” to fertilize our house plants and more.   From now on, I’ll see myself as a worm helping people compost their failures as they transition into fuller embrace of their God-given purposes!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Thanks Walter. LOL on seeing yourself as a worm!

  • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

    When I read this post I immediately thought of 2 Corinthians 12:9
    “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made
    perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my
    infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” I like how you included these versus’ in the post.
    It’s believed that the apostle Paul had an eye affilcation that he asked the Lord to remove (three different times) and this was the response he got and how he responded to the Lord.
    Great post mary!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      That is my favorite verse, Kimanzi!

    • http://bentheredothat.com Ben Patterson

      Thanks for the scripture.

      • http://talesofwork.com kimanzi constable

        you’re welcome brother!

  • http://www.hope101.net Lori Tracy Boruff

    I’ve been feeling pretty down lately looking at all the prayers, work, vision,dreams God has given me and yet seeing no financial fruit. I guess I’m measuring my success by my checkbook because in my heart I want to be a big giver but all I have are small offerings.  Yes, the word Failure came out of my mouth as I talked with a friend who unexpectedly stopped by today.

    How funny we talked about the very things you mentioned in your blog. We prayed.

    Your blog is perfect timing. In my ear God is whispering – Lori, I know. I’m in it. I care about your heart. Hang on.

    Lots of times failures come before a big break through. Whether it’s the enemy trying to get me to give up or God building my spiritual muscles – I’m blessed today by my praying friend and your words Mary!  Thank you for your insight and obedience to post it on this day – just when I needed it.

    I feel like skipping!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Hooray for skipping!!!!

      And I hear you about equating God’s blessings with cash. I get discouraged too in that way.

  • Barbara @ www.Therextras.com

    Timely message for me – don’t believe in coincidence.  Thank you!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Me neither! :)

  • Nancy

    In September 2010 I chose to resign as pastor of the church I had been leading rather than cause further problems and difficulties by trying to remain. Because I know that problems are never one sided, I have spent many months seeking out God about where my fault was and what I needed to do to correct those faults. Part of what God led me to do was subscribing to this newsletter along with reading all I could on leadership. God led me to John Maxwell’s ‘Failing Forward’ and He even provided me with a copy of Jud Wilhite’s ‘Torn’. All of these things have helped me to compost my failure. I have learned much over the past year, not the least of which was leaning on God like I had never had to do in my life. God has blessed me in that I have recently been called to a new church where I can put to use all that I have learned and all that I look forward to continuing to learn from here and other sources. Thank you.

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Having to lean on God is so good. I’m sorry you had to walk through this, but thankful that you’re leaning into God’s healing and leading and teaching.

  • http://relevantbrokenness.com Marni Arnold

    I absolutely love this post! Gosh…it is awesome! So true…every word of it! And how amazing is it that so many still love by the identity of failure instead of utilizing only what it’s good for…fertilizer for growth?! I know I still struggle with it at times…but I am so thankful to God for giving me such wise counsel (husband, friends and accountability partners) to help me out of those moments…and in turn, I can help them too…so we don’t have to live by failure’s identity!

    Thank you so much for this post!

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Marni, I’m so glad this post resonated with you!

  • StephanieTram

    At risk of being too transparent for some, I will admit to having a mental illness due to 20 years of abuse that started when I was 6. This year I went to treatment for some issues and came away diagnosed with something that terrified me. It screamed FAILURE at me so loudly that I nearly quit on life. Then the depression became too great for my therapist to feel he could help and in one feel swoop, he quit the job and didn’t even give me references for where else I might find help. FAILURE AGAIN…But GOD… led me to a lady who has been meeting with me for 4 months. During this short time more progress has been made than in the whole previous year. What looked like failure beyond my ability to recover, was God directing my steps to someone who truly could help. Thanks

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      Jesus, please heal Stephanie from the trauma she experienced as a child and a young adult. Use this woman to give her insight into how very much You love her. Amen.

  • http://www.extremejohn.com Extreme John

    Very inspiring article. Everything in here makes life even more purposeful. As a business owner, I often get frustrated when I stumble at some points in life and failures keep dragging me but indeed these failures have allowed me to grow up even more and feed my success. 

    • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

      I don’t like failing, but as I look back, I can see how much growth comes as a result.

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  • Berta

    I never throw a “failure” away. I simply shift it to an idea file. As I find more information I add notes to help flesh out a new work later. 
    http://snapshots-bertad.blogdpot.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/bernard.fruga Bernard Fruga

    “Positive Psychology of Failures” – a Polish psychologist Dr. Pawel Fortuna has just written such book (Polish edition to be published early 2012); being his friend I had chance to review the draft of the book.  Dr. Fortuna is probably the first psychologist touching the topic so deeply. I do agree with his opinion that learning from failures is the key condition for achievements in every aspect of our life.  And today when I saw the guest post on the Michael’s blog, I could not believe the coincidence: just a month ago I was telling Dr. Fortuna to consider an English version of his book and the first name of the publisher to talk about that came to my mind was Thomas Nelson Publishers.  And today we are encouraged to read, think and discuss about the gift of failures presented by Mary DeMuth! 
    Mary, if you are interested I can help you getting in touch with Pawel Fortuna. You both might wish to exchange views on the failures. I am sure this is a BIG topic!

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    I have my share of failures and success in my life. Of course, there are ups and downs. Failures have taught me great things in life. More importantly , failures have led me to  be a man of mental grit with persevering trait.
     
    When I read your post, I was reminded of Winston Churchill’s famous quote, “

  • http://www.angelashelton.com Angela Shelton

    Love this. Thank you for the reminder. 

  • Dvtomassoni

    Thank you for your “right on post”. For many years starting from when I was a child, I felt I was a failure and damaged goods. In 2004 I cried” God if this is all life is, I don’t want it”, the very next day he sent to me a man of the cloth that most definetly got my attention and my first “God moment”.

    One of the things I learned was embracing my uniqueness and share my failures and rising from the ashes.

  • http://twitter.com/WilliamJSpencer William J Spencer IV

    I am glad God talks to others in the garden also.  Failure can become fun if you view it as an opportunity.

  • Joe

    I like the composting comparison. I have been in farming for over 30 yrs. I drew the same type of comparison with what has been described as “toxic waste” – that would be cow manure. Yes, uncontrolled it is toxic waste. It can pollute streams causing devastation by robbing vital oxygen and propigating micro ogranisims that kill off life.  At first glance we can think of failure as cow dung. It can stink, carry many diseases and pollutants. But controlled and allowed to “cook” and then applied appropriately to a field of seeds can turn death into food for human consumption – when you think about it the results are quite amazing. Like the article, failure can be a pathway to destruction or pathway to life……..we make choices everyday. Guard your mind and speak truth into it. See the picture of life not the picture of death. I have always been blown away to plant a small kernal of corn and then harvest an 18 ft plant within 90 days always with the help of cow dung….how amazing is that and how God has a sense of humor in it all as well.

  • http://www.distractedbyprayer.blogspot.com Shannon @ Distracted by Prayer

    Thanks, Mary.  Knowing a bit of your story, I’m even more impressed with your resilient message.  People of faith often seem the most reluctant to risk because of a fear of failure.  More of us need to read and reread this post! 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/ayomide.akinkugbe Ayomide Akinkugbe

    Oh, How I love this line : “Your failure may be a beautiful gift, as it uncovers the idols in your life.” So true. . . Ruin is a gift!And this line got me smiling real big : “When God wants to do an impossible task, He takes an impossible person and breaks him.”. I already love your heart, Thanks Mary for sharing  :)

  • http://specializingintheimpossible.wordpress.com/ Laura Johnson

    Most of my life when I ‘failed’ somewhere I took it very personally. In my mind my value as a person diminished. Now, I view failure as an opportunity to learn! The greatest people failed multiple times before reaching greatness. If I want to be great…..bring on the failures! ;)

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