Sermon quotes on failure

Assorted Authors

We failed, but in the good providence of God apparent failure often proves a blessing.


Tim Kizziar

Our greatest fear as individuals and as a church should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.


Edmund Clowney

Worship is a meeting at the centre so that our lives are centered in God and not lived eccentrically. We worship so that we live in response to and from this centre, the living God. Failure to worship consigns us to a life of spasms and jerks, at the mercy of every advertisement, every seduction, every siren. Without worship we live manipulated and manipulating lives. We move in either frightened panic or deluded lethargy as we are, in turn, alarmed by specters and soothed by placebos. If there is no centre, there is no circumference.

Henry Ford

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.

Benjamin Franklin

I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.

Steven Furtick

Failure isn’t final until you quit!


Bill Gates

Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.


Napoleon Hill

Before success comes in any man’s life, he’s sure to meet with much temporary defeat and, perhaps some failures. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and the most logical thing to do is to quit. That’s exactly what the majority of men do.


Jack Hyles

Failure means I dared try.

Timothy Keller

If our identity is in our work, rather than Christ, success will go to our heads, and failure will go to our hearts.


C.S. Lewis

Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.


Theodore Roosevelt

In the battle of life, it is not the critic who counts; nor the one who points out how the strong person stumbled, or where the doer of a deed could have done better. The credit belongs to the person who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; who does actually strive to do deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotion, spends oneself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at worst, if he or she fails, at least fails while daring greatly.

Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.


B. F. Skinner

A failure is not always a mistake, it may simply be the best one can do under the circumstances. The real mistake is to stop trying.

John Stott

And seldom if ever do I leave the pulpit without a sense of partial failure, a mood of penitence, a cry to God for forgiveness, and a resolve to look to Him for grace to do better in the future.

Herbert Bayard Swope

I can’t give you a surefire formula for success, but I can give you a formula for failure; try to please everybody all the time.

Drew Baylor (Orlando Bloom)

“As somebody once said, there’s a difference between a failure and a fiasco. A failure is simply the non-presence of success.”


Alister Begg

The truth is, that more spiritual progress is made through failure and tears than success and laughter.

Made for His Pleasure, p. 106.

Herman Melville

He who has never failed somewhere, that man cannot be great.  Failure is the test of greatness.

Homer Simpson

“Trying is the first step toward failure.”

The Simpsons

Max Bialystock (Zero Mostel)

“How could this happen? I was so careful. I picked the wrong play, the wrong director, the wrong cast. Where did I go right?”

The Producers, Motion Picture, 1968.

John Ortberg

Failure is not an event, but rather a judgment about an event.  Failure is not something that happens to us or a label we attach to things.  It is a way we think about outcomes.

If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2001).

William Shakespeare

A person that never climbs will never fall.

Ashley Hales

Failure is a gift. When we are forced to drink the dust of our idols, we can begin to turn our sights toward home.

Taken from Finding Holy in the Suburbs: Living Faithfully in the Land of Too Much by Ashley Hales Copyright (c) 2009 by Ashley Hales. Published by InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL. www.ivpress.com

John H. Sailhamer

The focus of the author since the beginning chapters of Genesis has been both on God’s plan to bless humankind by providing them with that which is “good” and on the human failure to trust God and enjoy the “good” that God has provided. The characteristic mark of human failure up to this point in the book has been the attempt to grasp the “good” on their own rather than to trust God to provide it for them.

The Pentateuch as Narrative (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), p.134.

Mike Martin

Evading self-acknowledgment of our faults enables us to avoid painful moral emotions: guilt and remorse for harming others; shame for betraying your own ideals; self-contempt for not meeting even our minimal commitments. We also bypass the sometimes onerous task of abiding by our values and manage to sin freely and pleasurably. We avoid the need to make amends and restitution for the harm we do. And, above all, we maintain a flattering self-image while pursuing immoral ends, often in the name of virtue.

Mike Martin, Self-Deception and Morality, pp. 37, 38.

Dan B. Allender

A leader’s failure is never isolated, involving only the leader. Usually the failure of a leader involves basic patterns of hiding and blaming throughout the whole organization, patterns that must be uprooted. But the solution must always begin with the senior leader. If the fix doesn’t begin with the leader, then any efforts to address it in the so-called rank and file will be futile.

Leading Character (Leadership Library), Zondervan.

Flight Attendant Steve (Mitch Silpa) & Annie (Kristen Wiig)

Flight Attendant Steve: “You have three seconds to get back to your seat.

Annie: No one can get anywhere in three seconds. You’re setting me up for a loss already.”


Anthony Campolo

Since failure is our unforgivable sin, we are willing to ignore all forms of deviance in people if they just achieve the success symbols which we worship.

The Success Fantasy (Wheaton: Victor, 1980)

Robbie (Adam Sandler)

“I live in my sister’s basement!!!”

The Wedding Singer

Claire Colburn (Kirsten Dunst)

“So you failed. All right you really failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You failed. You think I care about that? I do understand. You wanna be really great? Then have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling.’”


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