Turn Your Setbacks into Comebacks

By Rick McDaniel

CrossLink Publishing

Copyright © 2017 Rick McDaniel
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63357-103-7


Chapter 1: Believing in Your Comeback,
Chapter 2: Reasons for a Setback,
Chapter 3: Lessons from a Setback,
Chapter 4: Ready for a Comeback,
Chapter 5: Components of a Comeback,
Chapter 6: Steps to a Comeback,
Chapter 7: Relational Comeback,
Chapter 8: Financial Comeback,
Chapter 9: Career Comeback,
Chapter 10: Health Comeback,
Chapter 11: Spiritual Comeback,
Chapter 12: Completing Your Comeback,
Chapter 13: Mr. Comeback,
Chapter 14: Ten Greatest Comebacks of All Time,



In the Gospels, the first four books of the New Testament — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John — tell the story of the life of Jesus. 125 times Jesus makes an imperative statement like "Love others," for instance. He says 125 of them and they are on a number of different topics or themes. Of those 125, the number one theme that he touches on, twenty-one times, the next one is eight times, is a variation of this: "Don't be afraid," "Fear not," "Have courage." The eight, by the way, is the "Love Others" theme. What makes Christianity unique is we are the faith that teaches love. Yet, even though love is the central theme of Christianity, the number one statement that Jesus makes more than any other statement is "Don't be fearful. Don't be afraid. Be courageous. Have courage."

The apostle Paul puts it this way in II Timothy 1:7: "God's Spirit doesn't make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control." If you're going to have a comeback, you must believe you can. You must overcome your fear of the future. The Spirit doesn't make cowards out of us. God doesn't want us to live in fear. God wants to deliver us from our fears and launch us into a marvelous comeback.

CNN and USA Today asked the Gallup organization to do a poll in 1998. The question was, "What do you believe will happen by the year 2025?" Forty-nine percent thought there would be a worldwide collapse of the economy. I think the worldwide recession that began in 2008 could apply. Sixty-six percent of people said an environmental catastrophe. There have been some environmental disasters like the Gulf Oil Spill, but maybe not a catastrophe. Seventy-six percent thought there would be the emergence of a deadly new disease. Ebola might suffice, but maybe not. Forty-eight percent said there would be a military strike or attack using nuclear weapons. The aggression of Russia and the fanaticism of Iran make this a future possibility.

Resist Being Fear Filled

Some bad things have happened and some bad things haven't. There are certainly plenty of things you could be fearful about, but you need to resist being fear-filled. Resist it. Fear breeds fear. The more we focus on it, the more exaggerated and distorted it becomes. The worst thing you can do to your comeback is to be fear-focused. If you allow your life to be filled with fear, it will breed upon itself, expanding and reproducing even more fear.

Fear creates spiritual amnesia, and we forget all the good things God has done. We seem to forget all the ways God has carried us through various situations. We get so focused on the setback we have amnesia about the fact God has brought us through time and time again. I think about my own life and how God has provided and taken care of me, yet fear can get a hold of us and we forget how good God is.

Fear also turns us into control freaks. A setback leaves us with such a sense of loss of control we end up wanting to control even more whatever we can control. This is very negative in many aspects of our lives. It's a negative from a relational standpoint. It's a negative from a spiritual standpoint. You can try to do everything yourself as if God isn't even real and doesn't even work in your life. You try to control things because you feel that so many things are out of control. You can't believe in your comeback and be a control freak.

Another negative as fear takes hold of our lives is it makes security our god. Now our true god is security and safety. What we seek out is the safest thing, the safest place, the most secure feeling. But God never placed you on this earth to be safe. He placed you on this earth for a great adventure of how He is going to work in your life. And you will miss out on so much that God has for you if you try to build these safety walls or you try to hunker down into your bunker and make everything safe. You cannot create security and safety for yourself as hard as you may try.

Thirty years ago, the most popular dog in America was the poodle. It was so popular especially compared to the Rottweiler there were less than 1,000 Rottweilers in the entire country. Today the number of poodles has plummeted. There are half as many poodles as there used to be, but there are 100 times more Rottweilers than there used to be. Nobody has ever been scared of a miniature poodle, but people are certainly scared of Rottweilers. It tells you something about fear and our desire for security.

And while you focus on security and safety, opportunities pass you by. Good things don't even get noticed. You miss your comeback! If you give into fear, you will miss out. You will miss out on the good things that God has for you. You won't even be able to see your comeback because your sole focus will be safety and security. Resist the fear.

Fear corrodes our confidence in the goodness of God. Either God is good or He isn't. If He is good, then you don't need to be afraid. Fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. Don't allow it to get a hold of your life. Fight against it. You have to resist fear and you have to choose faith over fear. That is a choice. You choose faith. You choose to trust. We must choose to have faith and not to give into fear.

Choose Faith Over Fear

I couldn't help but chuckle when I was looking at the MSN Money website one week and the big headline was, "Your Biggest Enemy Now? Fear." Some people are losing thousands, tens of thousands, and hundreds of thousands of dollars because of fear. They are making fear-based decisions instead of faith-based decisions. I am a believer in faith-based decision-making, not fear-based decision-making. You overcome your setback and move into your comeback by making faith-based decisions.

You choose faith over fear. You choose faith. If you will exercise greater and greater faith, you will automatically diminish fear. It's like a mathematical formula. The more faith that you exercise, the less fear you will have — guaranteed. More faith, less fear; they move in direct proportion to each other. The higher the faith goes, the lower the fear goes.

If you discipline your thinking and replace fearful thoughts with faith-filled thoughts, you will move yourself right into your comeback. When God's Spirit is in us, we don't have to be afraid. God's Spirit gives us power, love, and self-control. The Spirit gives us what we need to move past our setbacks and into a comeback.

Fear is limiting. Fear is draining. Fear is contagious. You cannot allow fear to limit your potential, to restrain what you can do with your life or cap your comeback. You can't let it deplete you of all your courage. Joshua 1:9 says, "I've commanded you to be strong and brave. Don't ever been afraid or discouraged. I am the Lord your God and I will be there to help you wherever you go." Fear is contagious, and it is amazing how it can spread. Before you know it, people, families, teams, companies, departments can't move forward. They won't try. They won't step out. They won't innovate. They won't create. What if it doesn't work? What if it's a failure?

Fear of Failure

Fear of failure holds you back. And God doesn't want you to be afraid to fail. Remember: everyone will fail. Everyone. No one has ever had a comeback without some failures along the way. Ecclesiastes 7: 20 says: "No one in this world always does right." This is the Bible's wisdom: no one ever goes through life without failures. No one always does right. No one bats a thousand. In baseball, if you bat .300 you are a star, though it means you didn't succeed seven of ten times. Isn't that funny? In baseball you can succeed three out of ten times and they call you an all-star. If you succeed three out of ten times in life, you're considered yourself a failure. Everyone will fail. No one is perfect. Warren Buffett loses money, LeBron James misses free throws, and Lincoln made bad decisions. Even the great ones make mistakes.

The fear of failure comes from unrealistic expectations. On the door of the training facility of the New England Patriots, one of the most successful professional football franchises, it says: "Manage Your Expectations." You can't win every game. You shouldn't expect everything will always work out. You will fail, and you need to deal with it. Better to remember everyone fails.

The fear of failure can be more damaging than failure itself, because the fear of failure keeps you from ever trying when some things might have worked. So the fear of failure is worse than failure. Fear of failure is keeping you from your comeback. You need to compartmentalize your life so you'll have less fear of failure. There are many aspects of any person's life. There is your personal health. There are your personal relationships. There is your professional life. There is your mental health. There is your spiritual life. And if you fail in one of those areas, it doesn't mean you are a failure. You can't let the fear of failing keep you from pursuing your comeback, keep you from being courageous and bold.

Fear of failure causes indecisiveness so you are not able to act, especially as it relates to opportunities. God presents an opportunity before us, but fear of failure will cause us to hesitate, will cause us to be indecisive so we do not act. There is a window of opportunity and it opens and it closes. And when it closes it's gone. Fear of failure creates perfectionism. There is a difference between excellence and perfectionism. Excellence is a standard that you pursue. Perfectionism is a drive you can't be free of and you're never at peace. Everything can't always be perfect, and fear of failure will drive a person to have perfectionist tendencies. You need to be free of the fear of failure. And the way to be free of it is to understand if you fail you are in a very large club called the human race.

Napoleon was the second lowest in his entire class in his academic performance and he became, at one time, the most powerful man in the entire world. H.R. Macy founded Macy's department store. Seven times he failed at business, but he kept coming back and his namesake is on Macy's stores all around this country. I have great admiration for Abraham Lincoln and respect his leadership, but the man failed incredibly. He failed in relationships. He failed in business. He failed in politics. He failed far more times than he ever succeeded. He is an incredible comeback story. His greatest success was saving the United States of America. He is the greatest president of the greatest country the world has ever known. His leadership principles live on to this day and inspire me and many other leaders.

Failure Is Not Final

Psychologists have a phrase they call awfulizing. Awfulizing is when we inflate a failure to ridiculous proportions, making it so awful, so terrible. We blow it up. And it keeps us from moving forward pursuing and taking risks. What is life if you don't try new things and take risks? It is called a boring life. Jesus doesn't want you to just exist, He wants you to thrive. To do it, you've got to step out of your comfort zone. Failure is not reaching your goal. It's not setting a goal. Failure is not fulfilling your dream. It's not having a dream. Failure is not having a setback. It's refusing to attempt a comeback. Failure isn't final.

Half of all churches that are started never make it. Does that mean we should stop planting churches and new multi sites? I hope not. People can't experience Jesus in a way that they can relate to and understand because we might fail? Three quarters of all restaurants fail. We shouldn't start any new restaurants and just stick with what we have? Some people are successful with one restaurant concept and not with another. Failure is final only when we become negative — when we say things like "God is against me," or "I'm never going to get married," or "I'll never have financial security." Failure only becomes final when we become negative and quit trying, when we are not brave and courageous. We keep trying, we keep risking, and we keep advancing. Failure actually has benefits.

Failure Has Benefits

One of the benefits of failure or a setback is it shows we are functioning outside of our giftedness, meaning no one can be good at everything. You have to know what you are good at, what you are gifted for, and what it is God wants you to do. One of the things I have always resisted is when people try to get me to do what they think a pastor should do. God has given me certain gifts that if I use them will make me successful, but if I get out of my giftedness, it's not pretty and it doesn't work out very well. If you've had a setback, God may be saying to you, "Stay in your giftedness. Use the talents and gifts I have given you and don't get off in other areas that you are not gifted in and that I never gave you talents for."

Failure shows us what doesn't work; it is a marvelous educator. The great thing about failure is it teaches us, "Don't do that again." What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results. Failure coaches us to do it a different way. Sometimes we just need to fine-tune or correct a little bit to be successful. Sometimes the idea is good but the timing is off. The timing causes it to fail. You have to line up the idea with timing that makes it successful. Failure shows us what doesn't work and forces us to find new approaches. Failure can be motivational; it motivates us to try something else. This is exactly what happened in the life of Abraham Lincoln. All of his failures motivated him to be exceptionally successful in his greatest challenge. He used the failures as motivation and it worked.

Failure has a marvelous way of preventing arrogance and pride because failure is very humbling. So just when you think you've arrived, just when you think you've made it, good old failure will bring you back to reality. I've had a little experience in this. You have a lot of success and you can think every idea is the greatest idea in the world. Then you fail, you have a setback, and it brings a necessary and appropriate humility. It shouldn't stop you from trying, but it does bring a degree of humility into your life that is very beneficial. The blessing of failure is it causes us to evaluate our lives. It opens us up to new directions. There is nothing like a setback to cause you to reflect, to cause you to be introspective. So failure has benefits, and those benefits can help you to make a comeback.

Fear Robs Us

Fear keeps us from loving deeply, keeps us from giving freely, and keeps us from dreaming wildly. It keeps you from loving deeply because when you are afraid you don't want to risk, and only in risk can you experience satisfying relationships. Do you really want to keep everything on the surface? You need to go deep. When you never go deep, you can never know the kind of true and loving relationships worth investing in.

Fear keeps us from giving freely because if you've got a scarcity mentality, you think there is only so much. You can't part with the little bit you have and then you are never able to give freely. And without giving freely, you cannot be blessed. It's more blessed to give than to receive. It's only when we give that we are able to receive. We have to sow in order to reap: no sowing, no reaping.

Fear keeps us from dreaming wildly because you can't have wild, crazy dreams if you are filled with fear. So the idea of taking risks is abhorrent to you. You play it safe and miss out. Whatever life is like without dreams I don't want to know. I don't want to live like that one day of my life. If I wake up a day of my life and I don't have dreams, I don't want to live. You can't believe in your comeback if you don't have dreams.

But you can choose faith over fear. You know what else you can do? You can ask God to have more faith. That's what Thomas did. Thomas said to Jesus, "Help my unbelief." He said, "Jesus, I want to believe, but you coming back from the dead, it's just kind of incredible!" Jesus said to him, "Do you see where the nail went through my hand?" Jesus walked right through a wall. He was on this side and came out on that side. Thomas witnessed it but he still said, "Help my unbelief."

Ask for Greater Faith

Maybe this is where you are. Maybe that is the level of your faith right now. You have had a setback, and your ability to believe a comeback is possible is very low. Just ask God to help you have greater faith and he will. God will help you. You may wonder how he does that: He does it in many ways, but I'll tell you one way He does it — He helps us to see things that have been there but we just haven't noticed. He helps us see things and the more we see things, we start thinking about coincidences. We think this is interesting or that was kind of lucky. And when you find yourself thinking all those things, then the light goes on. God is working, God does orchestrate events, and maybe I should just trust him more. You see it and the more you see it, the more you can believe.


Excerpted from Turn Your Setbacks into Comebacks by Rick McDaniel. Copyright © 2017 Rick McDaniel. Excerpted by permission of CrossLink Publishing.
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