I heard it said, “No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying.” This is true; very true! The worst mistake a leader can make is to do nothing when the situation requires action – even if you make a mistake or fail!
When I was still serving in the pastorate, every time I would start at a new church I would tell the congregation that I wanted them to do something for me. I would then challenge them to commit to me that they would love me as much when I was wrong as they did when I was right. The point being that as their leader, there was going to be times that I was going to just flat blow it. I would be 100% wrong. And I needed them to love me as much then, if not more, as when I was right.
As a leader, it is not a question of if you are going to make a mistake. The only question is when, how bad, and what you do afterward. In my opinion, most every mistake a leader makes can be turned into a teachable moment for his congregation.
So, what should you do when you make a mistake as a leader?
- Acknowledge it. Acknowledgement shows integrity. Trying to hide or cover up a mistake shows a lack of integrity. Acknowledgment also shows your humanity. You’re not perfect! And strangely enough, while your congregation doesn’t want you to make mistakes, they find a certain level of comfort in seeing your humanity!
- Apologize. Sometimes, saying I’m sorry is the most powerful tool you have in your battle against satan!
- Ask their forgiveness and their commitment to love you through your mistake
- Ask their advice. Solicit the opinion of your congregants as to what adjustments they think you need to make to insure you don’t make the same mistake again. (This gives them buy-in!)
- Adjust. Tell them what changes you are implementing to make sure the mistake doesn’t happen again – and then implement those changes.
A wise leader finds ways to turn his mistakes into teachable moments! If you’re going to fail – fail forward – not backward!
Lead on! Brother Aaron