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How Kids Can Cope with Failure and Rejection

Someone getting pied

Our value lies not in what we can or cannot do for the world, but in what Jesus has done for us. Jess reminds us parents how we can encourage our kids as they learn and grow through failure and rejection


Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. 

Romans 5:3-5


My dear friend Julie challenged a group of high school girls she was discipling to build a fence in a matter of hours. This fence was far above their skill level and Julie intentionally made the task impossible to complete. After several hours of work, she came back to an unfinished, exhausted group of girls.

Julie walked each of them through their failure. This was really tough for this group of girls highly motivated to complete tasks well in order to avoid failure and the stigma that can come with that. They were wired to perform well. She communicated our successes and failures don’t define us and that God doesn’t abandon us when things are hard.

How can we teach our own kids to cope with failure and rejection (besides not letting them win every time we play together)? I believe there are some helpful core principles:

  1. Lean in and trust God. Growing up, my mom always told me that my attitude was a choice. I was responsible for choosing to be joyful or negative regardless of my circumstances. How do we endure throughout failure and rejection? We lean into the Truth we know from God’s Word. In some of the deepest moments of hurt and rejection in my life I’ve had to literally choose to believe and remember God’s love for me. A lot of times, my feelings didn’t change. I still hurt, but I chose to stop my thoughts and align them with what the Bible says is true – God loved me enough to give me His Spirit to comfort, counsel and support me when I fail or am rejected.
  2. Our failure and rejection don’t define us. In a culture obsessed with success, it’s easy to believe that we are only as valuable as our resume. However, God’s Word encourages us differently. We know from 1 Samuel 16 that though man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart. We are defined by the condition of our heart. If we’ve committed our lives to Christ, his sacrifice defines us. Our circumstances aren’t who we are. “Child of the Most-High God” becomes our identity.
  3. Suffering provides growth. Though failure and rejection are painful we know from Romans 5 that our character is built stronger through our suffering. When we learn to lean into God and endure suffering, character and hope will come. Through these painful experiences, we will create habits of endurance and hope will become our starting place. Without suffering or the opportunity to endure, we might never grow into believers who hope in God.

It was painful for Julie to watch her girls fail that summer, but I’m confident that unfinished fence is a memory each of them remember today. Because of their experience that summer, they’ve learned to fail with grace and confidence.

Camper Corner

  1. Can you think of a time that you have failed or been rejected? How did it make you feel?
  2. What can you do differently the next time you fail?
  3. What does God say about you when you fail or mess up?

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