What do you do when you fall?

Let me start by eliminating one possibility: I’m not talking about moral failure, or sin, or falling away from God. That’s a category all its own and deserves more than a 400-word article.

I’m talking about goofs, mistakes in judgment, forgetfulness, ineptitude – everyday, ordinary kinds of failure that aren’t sinful and aren’t usually life-altering.

My answer comes in the form of a quotation by Oswald Avery (Canadian-American physician & researcher, d. 1955) – “Whenever you fall, pick up something.”

What an elegant, simple, and practical answer!

Unfortunately, some people do everything wrong whenever they fall. Let me suggest three things you should NEVER do when you fall.

  1. NEVER PANIC – Panic is an emotional response to a perceived crisis. It makes us project the worst possible scenario. It makes us want to give up before we try anything.
  2. NEVER WALLOW – As sad as it sounds, some people live for failure. They’re into the “poor pitiful me” syndrome. They want your pity and your sympathy, and they’d prefer that someone else fix their problem.
  3. NEVER BLAME – Some people play the blame game because they won’t accept personal responsibility for their failures. Sometimes the other person is blameworthy but blaming them isn’t always helpful. So, YOU do what you can to fix the problem.

Now let me suggest some positive applications. What should we “pick up” after we fall?

  1. PICK YOURSELF UP – Don’t just lay there! Do something!
  2. PICK UP WHAT YOU DROPPED – If you made the mess, clean it up! Take ownership!
  3. PICK UP WHAT SOMEONE ELSE DROPPED – Sometimes we didn’t make the mistake. Help the other person anyway! Help remedy the situation!
  4. PICK UP A FRIEND – Others fall. They need what we all need – companionship.
  5. PICK UP A NEW SKILL OR HABIT – Learn something while you’re down there!

Is there a biblical basis for this? Yes! Proverbs 24.16 says, “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, But the wicked stumble in time of calamity.” The previous verse warns the wicked against trying to trip the righteous; this verse gives the explanation. 

Proverbs usually address how to avoid falling. Here, it acknowledges that righteous people do make mistakes and fall. The difference, though, is that they keep picking themselves up.

So, whenever you fall, pick up something, starting with yourself.