5 Steps to Recovery from a Failure

You’ve failed. It was huge. Perhaps you did it on purpose. Maybe it was an accident. You may have stumbled into gradually over time or suddenly.

Bottom line: You did it. It was wrong. There’s no sense denying it now.

What you do next will determine if – and how well – you recover.

Here are 5 steps to recovery from a failure:


Be honest with yourself and others who need to know. Quit hiding from the truth. Stop making excuses. Your story is your story. Hiding only delays recovery. Own what you did and take responsibility for your actions. It’s a sign of maturity, but few make it to this point. Be one who does. You may have consequences to deal with – don’t try to run from them.


Ask God for forgiveness. If you are a believer, He’s already paid your penalty on the cross, but you need to acknowledge your sin to keep the relationship pure. Ask any injured parties for forgiveness. You’re not responsible for their granting of grace – only for your attempt to live at peace with them. Your hardest step may be to forgive yourself.


Create a new path. Consider the right way to do things next time – so you won’t face the same failure again. Do you need new friends? A new environment? Should you step away from a position for a time? How can you ensure those around you, whose trust you’ve broken can trust you again? Develop a plan of recovery – steps you need to take to move forward again.


Commit to your plan. They may mean new accountability. Commit to the people you love. Commit to yourself. Commit to walking a new path and writing a new story. You can do anything with the discipline and tenacity to see it through. Believe in the power and sufficiency of God’s grace in your life.


We should learn from every failure. You do not have to be defined by this season of your life, but you should mature from it. Move forward – looking back not to feel bad about yourself, but only enough to remind you to never go there again.

You can do it!

Have you ever recovered from a failure? What would you add to my list?

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28 thoughts on “5 Steps to Recovery from a Failure

  1. Admitting is the hardest part but it helps you advance to the other steps. The more clear you are about your failure and the reason it occurred the more you will learn and benefit.

  2. Amen to all those points. I would add that when you have truly repented, you will desire for inner transformation. While it is good and helpful to have an understanding of the whys, bottom line, you have to hunger for and trust in God’s Spirit to bring lasting transformation in that area. Receiving God’s grace is the only way to avoid getting caught in a net of shame and returning to the sin. Also, not blaming on the enemy but being aware that he is seeking to destroy you. Staying covered with armor we gave been given and submitting to godly authority.

  3. I think it's important to distinguish the nature of our failure. Was it a sin? Was it an honest mistake? Was it setting the bar too high?
    That's an important place to start because it determines our path to recovering from the failure. Sometimes, we need to give ourselves a break and relax from our own unrealistically high expectations. We need to rest in God's grace. Other times, we need to come to grips with the seriousness of our sins and repent.

    It's also important to remind ourselves of God's sovereignty and his ultimate ability to redeem anything. We may have failed, but God can take that failure and turn it into ultimate good. That goes right along with your fifth step of growing as a result of our failure.

  4. I think recovery from a failure requires acceptance that you failed. Accept if for yourself. And then… let it pass and move on with a new plan. Access what happened. Learn and move on. Never take too much time brooding in your failure. Speed is good medicine for recovery quickly.

  5. Great points Ron,

    Dealing with failure by yourself isn't always the most effective. Too often, shame enters the picture and we try to withdraw to deal with the hurt. When I fail I always refer to the proverb "Two are better than one, for _WHEN_ (Not If) one falls into a ditch, the other is there to pull him out." I'm thankful for a couple of people who are close confidants, that I can reach out to when I fail, and they come alongside.

    Sometimes it isn't our failure we are responsible for. I lead a great team of IT folk who are, well… human. Things happen. As a leader it's my responsibility to lead the recovery and restoration. I've blogged about this at http://turningtechinvisible.blogspot.com/2011/09/

    Again, thanks for sharing.

  6. Once we admit and accept our failure, we need to start afresh. We can begin by analyzing what went wrong. Then, care must be taken not to repeat the same mistake. When we make our re-attempt, we need to try with renewed vigour. None can afford to make the same blunder again and again.

    As it is warned in 2 Peter 2 Chapter, we should not make the following statements true in our life:

    –“A dog returns to its vomit,”and
    — “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.”