Permission to Fail

Learning a musical instrument is the most rewarding and frustrating thing to do.  For some reason we live in a society of false expectations.  When we first pick up an instrument or learn a new skill, we automatically assume we can master it within five minutes.  If it gets too hard, than we quit.  This is especially the case with teenagers.

You have permission to fail. #threewordwednesday Click To Tweet

There are thirteen teens in our church youth group band.  That’s right.  Thirteen.  A few of them are brand new on their instruments.  The group as a whole is super excited about playing, but there are those timid moments from a player or two.

In those moments, a player isn’t playing very loud or they think they can never get a rhythm right no matter how hard they try.   This is all happening during practice where there is very little pressure.  My philosophy about practice is to get all the mistakes out as much as possible before performing in front of a group.  One phrase seems to change it all whenever I come across this situation.

You have my permission to fail.

Permission to play a wrong note, to come in early, to play late, to play out of tune.  They all have permission to fail.  Even the best musicians mess up every now and then.

When the band is given permission to fail, I can see their faces relax. There is a sigh of relief throughout the band. And sure enough, they move forward with more gusto than ever.
How often do I give myself permission to fail in life?

Like some of you, I am a recovering perfectionist. Everything has to be done in a particular way or else it isn’t perfect. And yes, this was all too true during my music days too. Why bother playing a piece if I cant’ get it right to begin with? But guess what? I easily became a quitter (and not in the Jon Acuff sense).

May we embrace the perfect Son through our imperfections. #threewordwednesday Click To Tweet

We need to fail. We need to stumble, fall, trip over our own two feet in order to get back up again. I’m not referring to a life of sinful desires or an easy ride on the grace train. I’m referring to our natural abilities to make mistakes and take risks. Many times we don’t take those risks because of our fear of failure.

I am so concerned about doing everything “right”, including my walk with Christ. It’s probably why I have felt so insecure about working full-time. If we’re the odd man out than we must be doing something wrong, right? This isn’t always the case.

Christ is glorified through weakness. My insecurities and failures simply prove my need for a Savior. If I don’t fail, then I’m not aware of my own weakness. If I’m not aware of my own weakness, than I don’t see the work of Christ in my life.

So may we all obtain permission to fail. May we no longer be the timid musician who avoids making a mistake for fear of embarrassment.  May we embrace the perfect Son through our imperfections.

I am linking up with Three Word Wednesday today. Check out Kristin’s blog for other great posts! I’m also linking up at Coffee For Your Heart and Grace and Truth.


Have you heard? Choose Joy: Finding Hope and Purpose When Life Hurts by Sarah Frankl and Mary Carver is out right now! You can order this wonderful book through Amazon (affiliate link included) or your local bookstore. In the meantime, you can also read my thoughts on choosing joy.

12 thoughts on “Permission to Fail

  1. It is so true – we need to give others, and ourselves, permission to fail. In giving the permission, we disable the enemy from shaming us should we fail. And there is such freedom in that. Glad I stopped here this morning from Three Word Wednesday. Have a great Wednesday!

  2. Permission to fail…there is so much grace in that. I wish more adults gave kids that permission to fail. They really do relax when we give them that permission. But how many people in the world haven’t been given that permission to fail? It makes me sad to think of those who have never been given that grace.

    1. A lot of people haven’t been given permission, and as a result they do not experience the full grace of God. Well said, Tara.

  3. Samantha, what a great post! I still struggle to give myself permission to fail. And one of my boys? Oh, my. He takes perfectionism to a whole new level. Failing is not an option for him. But the sad thing is, this fear of failing prevents him from trying new things he’s interested in. And when he does fail, he leaves no room for grace. Perfectionism is a hard taskmaster.

    We’re working with him. Taking risks is what makes life more worthwhile. If we live safe within our successes, we deny ourselves the chance to grow and deepen as people.

    Great post today!

    1. Oh how fun! I still work for the university but I telecommute in another part of the state. I miss Lynchburg so much. Have fun and safe travels!

  4. I was just having this conversation with parents today at a leadership class I teach. How we need to give our kids permission to fail so that they can learn how to cope, problem solve, and understand that they have the ability to get up and go on. I’m a recovering perfectionist too and still learning that myself, but it’s something I’m mindful to teach my son – especially in his walk with Christ. Amazing grace!! Great post, Sam. Visiting from #threewordwednesday

  5. Just stopping in from The Loft to say good thing God doesn’t expect perfection from us. And the amazing thing is that he still trusts us with his work, even knowing we’ll fail and mess up. But then, that’s how we learn to trust him, isn’t it? He is so good!

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