Fear of failure is a common fear – more common than we are willing to admit. It is not difficult to find examples of it and it is not easy to mend.

Amy Carmichael was a missionary in India. She was committed to talking about the difficulties and failures of missionary work. People in the comfortable western world were not interested. They just wanted good reports; after all they were giving money to see results, not to hear about struggles and difficulties. Failure was a taboo word.

Sometimes I feel it still is. We have not yet developed a good language to talk about it or adequate tools to fix it, and fixing is what most of us want to do. A good place to start I would say is being honest about it, just as Amy was.

“For more has been written about the successes than about the failures, and it seems to us that it is more important that you should know about the reverses than about the successes of the war. We shall have all eternity to celebrate the victories, but we have only the few hours before sunset in which to win them. We are not winning them as we should, because the fact of the reverses is so little realized, and the needed reinforcements are not forthcoming, as they would be if the position were thoroughly understood. Reinforcements of men and women are needed, but, far above all, reinforcements of prayer. And so we have tried to tell you the truth—the uninteresting, unromantic truth—the work as it is. More workers are needed. No words can tell how much they are needed, how much they are wanted here. But we will never try to allure anyone to think of coming by painting coloured pictures, when the facts are in black and white. What if black and white will never attract like colours? We care not for it; our business is to tell the truth. The work is not a pretty thing, to be looked at and admired. It is a fight. And battlefields are not beautiful. But if one is truly called of God, all the difficulties and discouragements only intensify the Call. If things were easier there would be less need. The greater the need, the clearer the Call rings through one, the deeper the conviction grows: it was God’s Call. And as one obeys it, there is the joy of obedience, quite apart from the joy of success.”

Amy Carmichael, Things as They Are.

Joanna has a passion for mentoring female leaders to become mentors for a new generation. She is a founding director of One Rock, a board member of Renovare UK, and an associate lecturer at Oasis College. In her spare time she loves taking photographs of nature, and playing with her cat Chester.