Burton W. Cole
Are You Brave Enough to Fail?
Failure is a part of success. Really.
Frank E. Peretti talked about that very thing last month at the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference in San Antonio.
We rate Frank Peretti as a HUGE success. He’s been dubbed “the father of Christian fiction.” It was his mega-successful novel “This Present Darkness,” published in 1986, that blasted faith-based novels to new heights of popularity and prosperity.
Guess what? Initially, “This Present Darkness” failed. So did Frank.
“There were so many rough times in my life and I was full of questions, wondering what God was doing. But He was doing,” Frank said. “Boy, the Lord sure can take His jolly time doing it.”
Frank spent five years writing “This Present Darkness.” When he finished, almost every publisher turned it down. It was too weird. It didn’t fit. It just wasn’t right, they said.
Thomas Nelson Fiction finally took a chance on it. When the novel was released… it flopped.
The book sat on the shelves not doing much of anything for a year or longer. Frank went back to work painting surfboards in the local factory. He figured his dream, what he thought was his calling, of being an author was ruined.
“Do not build your life on your dreams and your goals. They will change,” Frank said. “Some will fail. Some will take you where you didn’t know you were going to going.”
Instead, get your feet planted on the Lord Jesus Christ, stand firm on the Solid Rock, and let God direct your life, Frank said. Yes, the passions God instills in us help us know where He’s leading us. But the journey hardly ever is how you imagined it.
A couple Christian singers who happened across “This Present Darkness” started mentioning it at their concerts and in interviews. People got curious. A few more books went off the shelf. Then some more. And more. “This Present Darkness” became a best-seller more than a year after it was released.
About twenty-five titles and millions of books sold later, (including the Cooper Kids adventure series), Frank released the novel “Illusion,” in 2012. It bombed. Yep, even famous, big-time authors can fail. Again.
Frank offered this advice:
“You have to fail at least half the things you try or you will never know the things you are capable of doing. If you never failed, you never tried.”
Remember, failure is a lot easier to live with than the regret of never trying.
“Practice doesn’t make perfect. Practice makes better. If you are a perfectionist, get out of the game.”
Live with the rough spots, practice to learn your craft, and keep moving forward.
“What is worth doing is worth doing poorly.”
That is, just because you can’t do something well now doesn’t mean you should sit down and quit. You aren’t going to be an expert the first time you try something.
Ask your mom. The first time you tried to walk, did you? Nope. You fell down. Probably dozens of times. But you kept getting up and doing it again until you learned to walk. Maybe now you can even run five miles or ten miles. But you didn’t start there. The first time you tried, you fell down and went boom.
What we need is a long-term perspective, Frank said. “In the short-term, you have failures. In the long-term, you find God’s greater plan.”
(This post originally appeared on the Storyteller Squad on Oct. 14, 2019.)