Anyone who attempts anything worthwhile will eventually deal with a disappointment. This is just a fact of life. For you, it might be a venture that didn’t live up to expectations. Perhaps it’s a failed relationship you thought would go the distance. Or maybe your whole life just isn’t where you want to be.

The question is whether we will let these disappointments drive us forward or derail us off-track.

Dropped Ice Cream

Photo Courtesy: G. J. Charlet III

I recently faced a major disappointment when I stepped down as pastor of the church I started. I gave everything I had to it and had high hopes of the difference we could make and all the people we could reach. In fact, we were doing remarkable things and well on our way.

But balancing the needs of a growing church, a full-time job, and my family at home over several years led me to make a difficult decision. And at the end of 2011, I handed off leadership of the church to a team of leaders so that I could devote more of me, and my time, to my family. I won’t lie, it hit me hard, but I’m seeing the rewards at home and I know it was the right move.

Like you, I have the option to let it derail me or drive me forward. I choose to drive.

How about you?

If you are derailed, it’s never too late to get back on-track. Think about it. You have to be an extraordinary person to have taken a chance in the first place. And if you become the kind of person who encounters a major disappointment, yet keeps driving forward..well, you are simply amazing!

If that’s you, here’s what I know about you:

You are full of passion. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it well, “There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” Folks like you have a vision, a dream, a goal, and they pour themselves into making it happen. Your ambition and leadership is inspiring to others.

You are courageous. You dared to try when others wouldn’t. Many people let fear of failure keep them from attempting anything great, but not you. You overcame that fear and went for it anyways. The results may not have been what you hoped for, but you can take heart in knowing you are one brave son of a gun.

You are wiser than you realize. I once heard wisdom define as knowledge with scars. That’s so true. There are plenty of experts who theorize about what you’ve been through. They write books, give speeches, and sit on panels to talk about it. But you have the scars to prove it, the stories to share, and the knowledge that only comes with experience.

You are battle-tested.  You’ve been bucked off the horse, but the fact that you’re getting back on says something about you. It says you are a person full of grit and determination. It says you can be counted on when times get tough. It says you are a rock who’s ready to roll.

You are on your way. Our greatest opportunities often lie behind our greatest challenges. What if the hopes you have, the dreams you desire, and the life you want is found on the other side of your disappointments?

If you’ve faced a disappointment, let me encourage you to keep moving forward. Accept responsibility, learn from it, and press on. What you perceive as a failure, mistake, or misfortune can actually become the catalyst for what’s ahead.

What disappointments have you faced?

What did you learn from them?

In what ways have your worst days led to your best days?