DCL 5.4 Instruction | Grasp the Positive Benefits of Negative Experiences

In this DCL module, the sessions presented by Tom Atema do not entirely follow the notes.  Tom decided to share on the subject of ‘Failing Forward’ from his own experience. The video has been included in full to use at your discretion.


Video Presentation: Tom Atema, VP of International Ministries and Strategic Partnerships, EQUIP


Most people will agree that they must encounter an occasional setback in order to succeed. However, this thinking must go a step further. To achieve your dreams, you must embrace adversity and make failure a part of your life. If you are not failing, you are probably not moving forward. The person in­terested in success has to learn to view failure as a healthy, inevitable part of the process of getting to the top. The benefits of adversity and failure are many. Consider these reasons to embrace adversity and persevere through it:

1.  Adversity creates resilience.

2.  Adversity develops maturity.

3.  Adversity pushes you to become a risk-taker.

4.  Adversity helps you discover greater opportunities.

5.  Adversity encourages innovation.

6.  Adversity often precedes a breakthrough.

7.  Adversity strengthens us.


It is in the difficult times that we can experience the greatest growth. We will not grow when there are no problems and challenges.



  • Can you name a negative experience in your life that had positive benefits? What lessons did you learn from these hard situations?


Biblical Case Study: Moses (Exodus 3:1-4:13)

Moses grew up in Pharaoh’s palace and enjoyed all the benefits of royalty. When he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, he took matters into his own hands and killed the Egyptian. When Pharaoh heard about what Moses had done, he sought to kill him. Moses fled from Pharaoh and dwelt in the land of Midian.

The Prince of Egypt became a shepherd in a strange land. Far from home and far from his own people, the one who once lived as the son of the emperor with servants at his beckoned call now lived in the desert with sheep as his companions. He was undoubtedly tempted to label himself as a failure. After all, his people remained in slavery, and he was helpless to do anything about it.

Alone on the back of the desert, Moses encountered God in the burning bush. In the midst of seeming failure, God was at work in his life. Let’s take a closer look at what happened to Moses in his time of prolonged adversity:

1.  Moses was alone with God. His exile provided time for reflection.

2.  Moses was honest with God. Older and wiser, he admitted his weaknesses.

3.  Moses was hungry for God. Adversity had realigned his priorities.

4.  Moses was submissive to God. Adversity removed self-reliance.

5.  Moses overcame his fears. Adversity taught him God-reliance.

6.  Moses returned to Egypt. Adversity prepared him for a second chance to lead.

DCL Meditation and Inspiration Media and Notes © Willow Creek Association.
DCL Instruction Media and Notes © EQUIP Million Leaders Mandate Volume 2