The Courage to Fail – {Guest Post by Natalia Kwok}

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I’m so thrilled to share this Words That Changed My World story from Natalia Kwok with you. She is precious to me, and it gives me such a kick to see how God continues to bless her and bless through her, even though life has had so many unexpected turns. Welcome Natalia by leaving her some comment love, won’t you? 


The year I graduated from college, I needed to make a life-altering decision: Do I pursue Christian ministry or graduate school?

Decisions, decisions… By God’s grace, I was admitted into the top occupational therapy program in the nation. This was what I had set out to do since my freshman year of college. How could I now choose between this and full-time ministry? Was one option more spiritual than the other? Or more Godly

After a month of going back and forth, I realized that I was asking God a very simple question: which path will render me a greater agent in Your kingdom

God purposely left both doors open and I knew he wasn’t pushing me in one direction. With that, I recognized that His ultimate will for me is to glorify Him wherever I go, whether that’s graduate school or Christian ministry. I am a missionary, no matter what professional title I hold… God can just as effectively accomplish his ministry through a therapist, just as he could any other minister. 

So off I went to graduate school, fervently pursuing my education, yet still knowing that God was clearly calling me to make his name known while I was there. But how? 

And then it hit me…. Why not create a space to read scripture on campus for people in my program? I can invite people of all faith backgrounds to come and meet Jesus… and maybe even start following him. Yes. Missionary first, grad student second. 

I grabbed a fellow classmate who shared my conviction and we started planning. We figured out where to meet, what day worked best & which scriptures to use. We generated interest from Christians and non-Christians alike. We were ready.

And then we hesitated… For months, we sat around and made excuses for why it’s not the right time. But I knew deep down that I was afraid… extremely afraid. I didn’t want to fail or be rejected. Maybe this group would be too counter-cultural..What if we create social opposition? What if we fail? The risk was more than I could bear. So despite what I knew God was calling me into, I slowly backed away.

Around this time, I sat at church one day, convincing myself that it’s okay. I don’t have to follow through with everything I hear. God’s full of grace. Surely he doesn’t expect me to obey Him at the cost of my social acceptance. I like my comfort zone. I like my friendships. No need to rock the boat.

And then my pastor said something that hit me at my core:

“If you’re in your 20’s and you’re not failing at anything, then you’re probably not taking enough risks.”

And there it was. It was then that I realized this: it’s okay to fail. There is no way around risk and courage. Obedience to God’s call will likely not be the path of least resistance. It wasn’t for any of the bible heroes I know… and it certainly wasn’t for Jesus.

There may never be a moment where I feel 100% confident to do what God asks of me. But where would I be without the risks Jesus took? Where would I be if Jesus looked at the path set out for him and merely said “no, thanks” in fear of failure? What if Jesus backed away, afraid of social opposition, or even more frightening, persecution? But Jesus didn’t back away. He said yes. And even though, many times, it looked like he had failed, the world was ultimately saved through his obedience.

So despite my fears, I stepped out in faith, feeling just as Peter must’ve felt walking on water.  We made announcements, sent out invites and began, “the faith & occupational therapy group: discussions about Jesus & our profession.” 

Fellow classmates came and listened. They talked about Jesus, some knowing him well, others meeting him for the first time. And in weeks, we began to feel God moving in peoples’ hearts. His presence became known as we prayed and read his word right there in our classroom. My spirit was filled with courage, inviting others to get to know the one I call King. 

And even though there were plenty of wonderful moments, there were also moments that felt like complete failure. Weeks where no one would show up… weeks where I knew the scripture wasn’t resonating… but despite all that, I just reminded myself, it’s okay to fail. Because God is being glorified, regardless of what I look like. He is worth the risk. He is worth it all. I am serving a powerful God who will accomplish his ministry through my failures… through my risks… and I am blessed to be a part of his plan.

leray and corey- 1203Natalia has a passion for serving God in unpredictable and exciting places. She loves food, travel & all things Disney. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, who works as a pastor to college students, and precious baby boy, who came into the world not too long ago. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Occupational Therapy and hopes to use it one day with children and also for overseas missions. You can find her blog at


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5 thoughts on “The Courage to Fail – {Guest Post by Natalia Kwok}”

  1. Being ready to fail is one of the tools everyone who wants to accomplish anything has to have handy. A couple years ago my daughter and her roommate joined sororities principally in order to start Bible studies in the Greek community. They also wanted to care for their sorority sisters, and have a heart for women who are going through challenging times (like college age women). There was a lot of being ready to fail along the way, but God’s blessings were on them as they ministered to the people around them. There were some great responses too, with many young women coming to Bible studies for the first time, and some coming to faith in Jesus through it all.

    1. That’s so great! My husband actually did the exact same thing in his fraternity when he was in college and now ministers to greek students, empowering them to do the same! He’ll be thrilled to hear about more Christians bringing light into the greek community.

  2. Loved this! I wish someone had told me to fail back when I was in my 20s. I’m not sure I would’ve listened, though.

    A few years ago, I heard Andy Crouch at a conference. He told the attendees that he wanted to give them the freedom to fail “big.” Not morally, of course. But he wanted us to have the freedom to take big risks in our creative endeavors for Christ and fail and get back up and try again. Your post reminded me of this, and I really needed the encouragement today. Thank you.

    1. Natalia has been encouraging me to read Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly. I have it on my nightstand and am so excited to get stuck into it…. so that I too can have the FREEDOM of failing big 🙂

  3. What a wonderful message to hear from a young person. You have helped me to understand my sons better. And they will be glad to know I am a little closer to trusting them, even when they fail.

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