Realize that anything short of a fatal mistake is redeemable. Fear of failure can turn into self-sabotage. Although you want to be the best, you will always reach for second best or worse, nothing. You will not appreciate your success. This is why hope is so important. Hope gives the glimmer for a better day ahead. I want people to know that God loves them whether or not they know or love Him in return. He didn’t create you for failure. He is bigger than any mistake or failure you have. He is ready to restore when you are ready.
The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Dr Marcia Chang Vogl.
Marcia Chang Vogl is an ordained minister with graduate degrees in Education including a Doctorate in Practical Ministry, She serves as the Director of Bethany Projects with Hidden With Christ Ministries.
She creates and implements workshops for groups of five to fifty people concerning spiritual issues. She leads prayer meetings, seminars, and retreats (by invitation), in addition to private prayer counseling sessions regularly. Her focus is on inner healing and deliverance for all God’s people.
Her combined experiences as a former public school teacher and a college mentor, give breadth and depth to her teaching. The leaders she has mentored have impacted the world in business, education, churches, and faith-based organizations throughout the US and internationally. Her passion for traveling the world and serving as a Global Volunteer in Xian, China, and Hanoi, Vietnam has provided her with culturally relevant experiences which are expressed in her books.
Publications: (found on Amazon.com)
The Path Forward
Dancing with God, The Christian Journey to Live Supernaturally
Training to Reign, The Christian Guide to Spiritual Maturity.
Her articles and devotionals have been published in Christiandevotions.us online magazine, Purpose Magazine, a Menno Media publication, and The Secret Place, Judson Press.
Find out more about Marcia and her ministry at:
“I believe everyone has a God given destiny. Our greatest joy is to walk in that destiny.” Marcia Vogl. I have written…bethanyprojects.org
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
I was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii, the second child of 3 girls. My parents were children of Chinese immigrants so I am third generation American. My dad’s parents died when dad was 15. My maternal grandparents spoke only Chinese. Mom spoke Chinese and English. My siblings and cousins speak only English. We grew up in the mixed culture of Hawaii with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, whites, and blacks mixed. I and my friends were “color blind.” We were just people.
In my college days, women had the career options of nursing, teaching, secretarial, or library work. I pursued music education at the University of Hawaii. I worked my way through college by giving piano lessons. After a Master of Science in Music Education at the University of Illinois, I got my first job in California as a junior high and elementary music teacher. There I met my husband and we settled in Orange County California.
We are a mixed marriage of Asian and Caucasian. Our firstborn son is of mixed race, our second son is a Vietnamese adoptee, and our third child, a daughter, is a Korean adoptee. We have two grandchildren of a Korean and Caucasian mix and one grandson who is a mix of Chinese/ Caucasian/ Cambodian. We have an international family.
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
When I was 39 years old, I spiraled down into depression requiring hospitalization for three weeks. While there I met other patients who were also going through dark times.
As I walked out of the bathroom, a very large woman growled at me. “You are the reason I’m here.”
I was a patient in a psychiatric ward at a local hospital where I was admitted for depression. I had been there for only a day, as the only patient assigned to a room with four beds. I chose the bed farthest from the hall door in the corner near a window.
During the afternoon a “Brunhilde” of a woman was admitted and assigned to the bed near the bathroom. Her husband was seated next to her so I quietly slipped past them when I went into the bathroom. It was upon my exit that she startled me.
She said, “You’re the reason I’m here. You’re supposed to pray for me.” I, only 4’10”, weighing 98 pounds was intimidated so I was willing to comply with such a demand. At that time, I was not experienced in impromptu praying. I had only prayed using books, devotionals, and other repetitive prayers. I took her hands and prayed something. It probably was a combination of safety for travel, a birthday prayer, and healing. All I knew was to say “Amen” and head for the safety of my bed in the corner.
Upon rising the next morning, the woman was gone. I was there for depression where I could not think straight nor carry on a normal life as a wife and mother of three. I followed the hospital life routine of meals, therapy, and naps.
Later in the afternoon, “Brunhilde” came bounding down the hall.
“I’ve been looking for you! Thank you so much for the prayer. I had the best sleep last night, ever!” she said. “I’m going home today.”
“What was that lady here for?” I asked another patient who was in group therapy with her.
“She came in last night for a suicide attempt.” Only then did I learn this. She was now happy.
During the next three weeks, I met another patient caught in a dilemma. She was pregnant as an unwed mother. Her family would disown her if she had the baby and the church would excommunicate her if she had an abortion. She decided suicide was the way out. In group therapy, I heard from people who heard voices, a woman who tried to kill her baby, and someone who could not stay sober. My problem was minuscule next to these.
I was released after three weeks and started the 2-year journey to recover from depression and resume a normal life. But, life after such experiences is never back to normal. I realized the Lord called me to minister to his hurting people. I embarked on years of training, education, and experience to bring inner healing and deliverance to broken people.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- I learned to be a good listener. I listen with two ears: one to the person speaking, and the other in my heart to the Holy Spirit. I was listening to a young woman who was telling me how she was looking for a job, her housing situation was bad, and she was going broke. I then asked if she was ever abused. She burst into tears, showing me her bruised arms and legs that were covered by clothing. Her boyfriend had beat her. She said that’s what she wanted prayer for but didn’t know how to bring up the subject.
- I use my head knowledge to ask questions and then put the pieces together to discover the answer. A woman told me she was always afraid of making a mistake. When I asked when was the first time that happened she related how she was locked in the closet by her mother as punishment when she was 6 years old. It was the cleaning closet that was dark and smelly. She could not remember why or how long she was there but while in elementary school, she was afraid to make a mistake on anything for fear she would be locked in the closet for her infraction. She said, “I just knew there was a closet somewhere, waiting for me.” As a result, the fear kept her from enjoying a child’s freedom, and as an adult was always in fear of “making a mistake.” By finding this root problem, she was able to be set free from that fear.
- I ask my counselees for permission before I give advice or suggest a prayer strategy. People must always feel they have the freedom to accept or reject anything being deposited in their lives. If they refuse, I do not take it personally. I believe I have to let them make their own life choices. If they want my input, I will give it freely without expectations. I advised a counselee to start budgeting and learning to keep her finances in order. She kept saying she didn’t want to and it was a waste of time. I suggested free computer programs and even showed her how to make a budget. She resisted so I let her have her way. In time, she realized she had a fear of handling money because of some past beliefs about money. When she realized this fear, we set her free from this fear and set her free to handle money appropriately. Years later, she admitted, “You were right.”
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?
- Perfectionists who have judged others’ failures fear being like so-and-so who they have judged as a failure of some kind. They fear judgment will come back to them and they cannot meet the standard of their perfection. I see this as an inside job of self-talk.
- People fear failure because they do not believe redemption or restoration is possible. The whole responsibility is on their shoulders. That’s like carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders plus the responsibility for the answers.
- Fear of failure often stems from a negative future outlook. People don’t realize failure can be a good thing. We learn from our failures. We get stronger because of failure because we get to try again. Failure can keep you from stepping into things you shouldn’t have started anyway.
What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?
- Fear of failure limits success. That fear keeps you from taking risks. Calculated risks are smart moves. The space program would not be in existence if it were run by people who feared failure.
- Fear of failure to try new things limits your world. The elderly refuse to use the TV remote or computer for fear of failure. Their world is limited.
- With the fear of failure, you miss out on the fun in life. You won’t dance, sing, or try new foods.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the free of failure can help improve our lives?
Life is supposed to be fun. Fear is a clamp on having a blessed life.
I remember going to a formal dinner party with my husband when I was first married. I was afraid I would say the wrong thing or eat with the wrong manners. I didn’t know how to start a conversation. I didn’t have fun. I decided to observe others who seem to be having a good time. I came to realize “I can do that!” At the next party, I put to practice what I learned through observation and realized no mistake was going to be fatal. The worse that could happen, was I would not be invited back. Giving myself a picture of the result took away my fear.
I am happy to report I was invited many times over.
Fear of failure will cut off your future because you will not learn and move forward.
We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?
As I mentioned about the time I was deep in depression, I believed I was a failure as a wife, mother, and career woman. My whole life fell apart. Well-meaning people didn’t help me by telling me what I believed was not true. They told me I could change to be all that God meant me to be. God didn’t expect me to be perfect. He wanted me to be obedient in His eyes. That changed my whole perspective. I didn’t have to think about how perfect I had to be. I only had to check if I was being obedient in living an upright life, making the most of my opportunities.
How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?
Failure can be your stepping stone to discovering a new you.
While in college, I started out wanting to be a concert pianist. As I studied, I realized I didn’t have the kind of talent needed for that career. I was a better teacher than a musician. It would seem my “dream” was dashed and I was a failure. I learned to search for what I could do well and focused my efforts on that. Failure as a concert pianist, led me to be a good teacher using music as my vehicle. I touched more students as a teacher than I would have as a mediocre concert pianist.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Be honest with yourself. Quit saying “I’m no good”, “I can’t get anything right,” and “I am a waste of time.” The fact that you woke up today defies all that. There is something worth waking up for today. There is a good plan for you whether or not you know it. A young man told his mother he had planned to end it all by taking drugs on a camping trip, never to get up again. He believed he was a failure in life and had no future. The next morning he opened his eyes and found himself wide awake in the most beautiful natural setting. He realized, “There must be something I’m supposed to live for. I need to find out.”
- Learn to forgive yourself. The hamster wheel of repeated thoughts of past hurts and mistakes in your head and heart will keep going until you decide to get off. This is a decision. A woman kept torturing herself with the condemnation of “I should have finished college before getting married.” Forgive yourself and move on.
- Learn to own up to your mistakes. Admit to yourself that you were wrong without continuing to beat up on yourself. Simple as that. “Quit putting yourself in an impossible situation. “I thought you were the manager. I beg your pardon for the interruption.” You do not need to find some reason or person to blame for your mistake. Own up.
- Identify where this fear came in. Was it an event, something somebody said, or a repeated mistake? Once you identify the entrance point, you can shed light on it. As a counselor, people share these with me so we can bring them into the light and disarm the fear from the event. Automobile accidents, abuse, fights, and heated arguments all can be imprints of fear. When those are identified, they can be disarmed.
- Realize that anything short of a fatal mistake is redeemable. Fear of failure can turn into self-sabotage. Although you want to be the best, you will always reach for second best or worse, nothing. You will not appreciate your success. This is why hope is so important. Hope gives the glimmer for a better day ahead. I want people to know that God loves them whether or not they know or love Him in return. He didn’t create you for failure. He is bigger than any mistake or failure you have. He is ready to restore when you are ready.
The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?
I do not agree with Aristotle. The difference is that I am a born-again Christian and Aristotle did not have the opportunity to know God in the same way. There is a Christian song that says, “God will make a way where there seems to be no way….He will make a way.”
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would like to inspire a “Forgiveness Movement”. This movement would redefine forgiveness as God meant it to be. Forgiveness does not mean the infraction is excuasable, or acceptable, and people do not have to be held accountable. Forgiveness means to let go of any bitterness, malice, revenge, resentment, and hate you have toward those who have hurt you, either personally or collectively. This is not easy but possible. Until we choose to forgive, justice is stalled. We can learn to forgive with small things first then we will be able to tackle the big things. The small things like snide remarks, cutting in line, or hanging up on a call can be starters for forgiveness. When people do not take care to forgive small things, they find it too difficult to tackle the bigger issues like fraud, discrimination, and trespassing.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
In the present day, I would like to meet President Donald Trump because he is bold, and not fearful of stepping out into what he believes is right. Although some don’t agree with him, given the political climate, he certainly does not fear failure. He dares to take calculated risks for what he believes to be right.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Marcia Chang Vogl is a teacher, spiritual mentor, author, and the Director of Bethany Projects of Hidden With Christ Ministries. Holding a Master’s and Doctorate in Practical Ministry, she has counseled for 30 years with Biblical principles that apply to everyone. Through mentoring classes, Women’s meetings, workshops, and personal prayer sessions she gives direction for daily life, work, and relationships. She is available to speak at churches, seminars, retreats, and conferences.
Her books are The Path Forward, Dancing With God, (Amazon.com) and Training to Reign with God, Guide to Christian Maturity (September 2022)
She has been a Global Volunteer in Xian, China, and Hanoi, Vietnam. Married for 51 years she has raised an international family of three children.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent on this. We wish you only continued success.