Failure or Freedom?

March 7, 2014  - By Gretchen Saffles

Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement. {C. S. Lewis}

Failure. Even just writing this word makes me cringe inside a bit. Anyone out there fear failing like me? To be clear, in my human perspective, I view failure as not reaching my expectations. The dictionary defines it as a “lack of success.” But the question I have been wrestling with for a while is “What is success?”

Secret City Festival RobotMy first craft show was last June. I had BIG plans for it and just knew it was going to be awesome. I worked day after day leading up to it making products, cute decor and even little business card bags to give to interested customers. The day came for us to set up and then begin the adventure. As customers began to “flood” into the festival, my husband I quickly realized that the people attending weren’t exactly my main target market. Most of them were age 60 and above and walked by my hand-made vintage accessories booth without taking a second look. There was even a robot there (yes, a talking robot) that joked about what I was selling. Needless to say, I laughed it off but took a hit to my spirit. The show wasn’t a sell-out and it didn’t produce the “success” I had planned. So, was I a failure?

I definitely felt like it. But the Lord began to deal with my heart on this issue. If I am going to run a hand-made Etsy business, what is my measure of success going to be? Is it going to be the number of Instagram and Facebook likes? Or how many products I sell online or at craft shows? Is it going to be the monetary value I see come into the bank account? The more I began to look at Scripture, I saw the opposite. To be “successful” in Jesus’ eyes is to lose my life. 1 Thessalonians 4:3 tells us that the will of God is our sanctification, not our glorification in how much money we make and how popular we are on social media.

Our best successes often come after our greatest disappointments. {Henry Ward Beecher}

Success is not about money or “likes” and failure is not about lack of money or “likes.” My life is the greatest success when my eyes are not focused on making much of myself or making much of business, but rather in worshiping my Savior. If I measure success based on what other people say, I will constantly be imprisoned to the likes of men. The more I focused on how many people bought my products, I became shackled to their approval and lacked creativity in my work. However, as God began to break me (and still continues to) of my desire to please people, my work became more my own and my joy came from serving the Lord. When I focus less on what others think of me, I live in the freedom that Christ died for.

From my Mawmaw's BibleAnother thing I have learned in this journey of creative entrepreneurship is that I won’t be perfect. I won’t always create a product that everyone loves. I won’t always paint a picture exactly how I want it to look the first time. As a matter of fact, I will make mistakes. The more I’ve learned to accept this fact instead of letting it discourage me and feel like I failed, the more I grow from my mistakes and get better. When we were learning to walk, none of us quit that first time we fell smack dab on the floor. (Obviously we don’t remember this, but I know our little baby minds thought it) Instead, we got back up with the help of our parents. When I feel like I’ve stumbled and my face is on the floor, instead of wallowing in my own mess, the Lord has taught me this truth from Psalm 37:23-24:

“The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way; though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong, for the LORD upholds his hand.”

Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out. {Ben Franklin}

If I choose to learn from my mistakes and my own weaknesses, God is given much glory and helps me get to where He wants me to be. I will never be perfect, but my God, He is perfect and He lives in me. As a small business owner, I choose to grow from my mistakes and allow God to teach me from my weaknesses. I won’t allow Satan to steal the gifts God has given me and trample them under his feet. I also won’t allow myself to be caught back in the torrent of comparing myself to other business owners. Our work is to the Lord and HE is the owner of my business. If we choose to learn and to grow from our mistakes, beauty will come forth from the mess and we will live in the freedom God desires for us.

Proud people focus on the failures of others and can readily point out those faults. Broken people are more conscious of their own spiritual need than of anyone else’s. {Nancy Leigh DeMoss}

Live Life Beautifully

If you have ever felt like you failed, like I have many times in this journey, reach out for the hand of the Lord. He won’t leave you on the floor. He will hold your hand, teach you and mold you into the woman He wants you to be. He knows our weaknesses. But the truth is, when we are weak, He is strong. May our success come from hearts that seek only God’s approval and minds that learn from disappointments and don’t give up. This is an adventure. Who knows what God has around the corner?

living life beautifully,


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  1. I am preparing to do my very first craft show in November and this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about. I have been so nervous, totally not knowing what to expect and worried that my target customer wont be present at the events. This reminder was sooo helpful for me to think through what success will really mean on those days, and to give my business to the Lord foremost. So hard but something I’ve really been praying through! Thank you!

    • says:

      I am SO thankful this encouraged you! I learned so much through the craft shows I did. (a lot about myself, the Lord, and working with others) Go into the show with the main goal of worshiping the Lord through creating, talking to customers, and sharing Christ through your actions, smile, and creations. No matter what your sales are at the end of the day, you can walk away knowing you did all you could for the Kingdom! That brings freedom! THAT is success. 🙂

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