Failures Into Stepping Stones

Earlier this year, I attended a leadership school called TeenPact, where they teach teenagers about the government and politics. During the week you attend, you can run for senator or governor, have your own mini campaign, and if you’re elected, you give a speech at the end of the week. This past year, I was elected governor (the third female governor of about 30 in my state), and it was a unlike anything I’ve experienced. I was hoping that the speech I gave months ago can still inspire people, so today I thought I’d share my TeenPact speech with you:


Two years ago, I ran for senator and failed spectacularly. I’d ordered two yard signs, printed four posters, and ordered 150 multi-colored glow sticks with my slogan: Be a Spark in the Dark. My pre-memorized speech was about being a light of the world. Every night before I went to bed, I visualized giving that speech. If faith could move mountains, surely it could move one 15 year-old girl into the position of senator, right? Before all of this, I’d prayed and had felt God nudge me.

When I lost the election, I couldn’t blame the voters. They’d just voted for the people they’d liked. I couldn’t blame the other senators. They had, of course, done their best. And blaming God just seemed like a stupid idea. I had absolutely no one to blame but myself. I poured my best into that election, but it wasn’t enough.

Now, please don’t think I wanted a pity party. This story isn’t one of defeat, but of victory, as you all know.

This year, I’d decided I wasn’t going to run for anything. My plan: play gaga ball the entire week. I thought I’d like to staff in the future, so I asked a friend about it. He not only suggested that I run this year, but that I go for governor. So, I figured I might as well. No big deal, right?

Well, a few nights before this week, I was lying in bed, and I thought, What if I actually got governor? The idea was so painfully hopeful I struggled not to crush it immediately. I mean, wouldn’t that be cool? I run for senator, fail, and manage to get elected for governor? That would be like a fairytale ending. But the previous election had taught me that fairytales don’t come true… yet if Abraham could offer up Isaac, his promised son, I could do this. I decided to run for governor, but I couldn’t afford to have faith. God would have to have enough faith for the both of us.


You guys know the rest of the story. I didn’t think I’d get past primaries, yet here I am. You remember how I’d said that I’d given my best, yet that wasn’t enough? I don’t mean to be self-deprecating, but it’s true. Alone, I’m not enough. But with God, I’m more than enough.

My dad likes to say we have a God-sized hole inside of us. People try to jam all these different things into the hole—drugs, money, parties, or even school, sports, and friends—but God is the only thing that fits that hole perfectly, the only One who can complete us.

Besides teaching me that I need God, this election has also shown me that God is faithful. When I ran for senator, I was looking at my timetable instead of His. Once I’d failed, instead of trusting God would keep His promise no matter how quietly He’d whispered it, I gave up. My weak faith had wilted when the sailing got rough. In Hebrews 11, it says that some people died before seeing the promise fulfilled, yet they were faithful. Well, I’m pretty glad I didn’t have to die before I was elected. Even when I had lost faith in God, He didn’t forget me. I came to this election woefully unprepared compared to my last election, yet despite the odds and my lack of faith, He kept His promise.

God doesn’t need faith the size of a mustard seed. He doesn’t need you to be witty, to have a high IQ, to be irresistibly attractive. He just needs someone who’s willing.

Philippians 1:6 essentially says: He who has begun a good work in you will complete it. If God plants something within you—whether it’s a hope or a dream—He has a plan for that seed. Sometimes, the seed doesn’t blossom into what we’d expect it to. I’ve found that when you’re expecting a single rose, God likes to give you a rose bush. God has dreams for us that are waaayyy bigger than we are. My run for senator wasn’t a spectacular fail, but a stepping-stone. Not only did God have something bigger in mind for me, but I also didn’t have this message yet. I couldn’t share this unless I’d first gone through that trial.


Two years ago, I ran for senator. It wasn’t a failure. I wish I’d known then what I know now, but God used my lack of faith as an example. I made quite a few mistakes, but I’m hoping that this experience will bless you like it’s blessed me.

“I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.”

-Philippians 4:13

I remembered the “I can do all things” part, but I’m afraid I’d forgotten just how much I need God. And whatever you’re going through right now, whatever trials you’re facing, don’t give up. Lean on God the entire way, because He is faithful even when we aren’t.

Before I close, I want to share my motto with you. Throughout the election process, I kept reminding myself of this: God doesn’t need talent; He needs availability.

So when God dares you to do something… be the person who’s crazy enough to say yes.

Recent Comments

  • Hannah
    November 16, 2016 - 6:44 pm · Reply

    This is fantastic, Liz! I have always struggled with relying on Him. In fact, I’ve struggled even more with working hard. I’m a strange combination of perfectionism and complacency, of wanting things to be perfect yet relying on my talent alone to get there. I love the message of this speech.

    “God doesn’t need TALENT, He needs AVAILABILITY.”


    • Elizabeth Newsom
      November 17, 2016 - 11:56 pm · Reply

      Hmm. That is an interesting combination.

      I’m honored that this post could help you! It’s one of my favorite messages, and I’m glad I retyped it. It’s a great reminder.

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