Correcting Our Course When We Have Failed

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

James reminds us that “we all stumble in many ways” (James 3:2). Many fathers feel hampered by past mistakes, and feel like giving up altogether. Perhaps they made mistakes when they weren’t following Christ, or reacted wrong to a number of situations. While we should take to heart the sins God convicts us of, we should recognize that God does not leave us there. Some fathers must deal with family members harboring deep resentments and even hatred toward them. Some fathers raised children who no longer speak with them. But God has a plan for these fathers, too.

How can we correct our course following failure?

1. Pursue a right relationship with God.
Our first order of business following failure is to put our life in order. We must do this immediately, because our relationship with God comes first. We must put everything aside for the moment, and re-align our relationship with God. He will then give us spiritual sight to assess our situation and chart a way forward.

2. Do not feel haunted by past failure, but use it as an incentive to live righteously. Once we confess our sins to God, He no longer holds them against us. Yet past failures can serve a useful purpose. They can remind us of pain we need to avoid in the future. Few hurts run deeper than fractured relationships. But the restored believer can now pursue godly relationships and begin to make a difference.

3. Live for Christ before those you may have hurt.
When we have failed people, we like to avoid the people we hurt the most. But then they would not be able to see the changes God makes in our lives. It can be quite awkward trying to win over people we’ve hurt. Perhaps we need to spend less time “winning over” people, and more time demonstrating godly character. They may tag you with “hypocrite” and write you off with their words. This could go on for a prolonged stretch of time. You may have to brace yourself with verbal taunts of how you used to live. But remember the assuring words of the Apostle Paul:

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Paul writes in this chapter about the power of Christ’s salvation. If God forgave us, we need not grow discouraged, though others, even close family members, will not.

Finally, you may or may not restore every relationship. But your godly example will testify to others of God’s forgiving mercy. We all have failed, and we have all failed others. But rejoice in your heavenly Father’s salvation and forgiveness.

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