What To Do When You Fail – A Lesson on How to Handle Failure

FailureWhat to Do When You Fail – A Lesson on How to Handle Failure

In the January 1st, 1929 Rose Bowl, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets faced the Golden Bears of California.  A little through the second quarter, just thirty yards from the end zone, a player picked up a fumble and started running – the wrong way.  He ran sixty yards before he was turned around by one of his teammates.  He was then unceremoniously tackled one-yard line by the opposing team.  The team decided to punt instead of risking a play so close to their own end zone.  The punt was blocked and the opposing team scored.  The name of the man who had made that fateful run was Roy Riegels.

At half time, Roy walked into the locker room.  Sat down separate from the other players, put his head into his hands, and began to cry.  The coach didn’t know what to say.  Three minutes before it was time to start play, the coach said, “Men the same team that played the first half will start the second.”  Riegels didn’t get up.  The coach walked over to him and said, “Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that played the first half will start the second.”  Riegels responded, “Coach, I can’t do it to save my life. I’ve ruined you, I’ve ruined the University of California, I’ve ruined myself. I couldn’t face that crowd in the stadium to save my life.”  The coach simply said, “Roy, get up and go on back; the game is only half over.”

  1. When You Fail, Remember What Is Important.
    1. 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
    2. 2 Corinthians 4:7 “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”
    3. 2 Corinthians 10:17-18 – “’But he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’ For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.”
  2. When You Fail, Glory in Your Weaknesses.
    1. Attributed to Tom Landry – “We don’t learn much from the games we win.”
    2. 2 Corinthians 11:30 “If I must needs glory, I will glory of the things which concern mine infirmities.”
    3. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 “For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”
  3. When You Fail, Accept Correction.
    1. Proverbs 15:5 – “A fool despises his father’s instruction, But he who receives correction is prudent.”
    2. Why did Paul have that thorn in the flesh? 2 Corinthians 12:7 “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.”
    3. Psalm 141:5 “Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.”
  4. When You Fail and Accept Correction, Don’t Look Back
    1. Luke 9:62 – “But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.’”
    2. 3:12-14 – “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
  5. When You Fail, Keep Telling Others about Jesus.
    1. Matthew 3:13-16 “Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me?  And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him.”
    2. 1 Corinthians 9:16 “For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
    3. 1 Corinthians 2:2 “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.”

Roy Riegel’s team ended up losing the Rose Bowl by one point.  If not for his infamous run they would have won by one point.  But that wasn’t the end of Roy’s story.  Roy served in the U.S. Army Air Corp during the Second World War.  He afterwards became a high school football teacher.  He then became the coach of a college team.

In 1957 a young man named Jan Bandriga did the same thing Roy did in 1929.  Roy wrote him a letter.  He said, “For many years I’ve had to go along and laugh whenever my wrong-way run was brought up, even though I’ve grown tired listening and reading about it. But it certainly wasn’t the most serious thing in the world. I regretted doing it, even as you do, but you’ll get over it.

2 Corinthians 13:4 – “For though He was crucified in weakness, yet He lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in Him, but we shall live with Him by the power of God toward you.”