After twenty-two years of being a pastor and leading people, there is one thing that I am sure of. Every leader is going to make a mistake. At some point you’re just going to get something wrong. For any leader to think they can avoid making them is nothing but arrogance. You don’t know everything and you certainly can’t predict how people are going to respond to decisions you make. It may look good on paper and sound good in your mind, but that doesn’t always mean it’s going to work and be successful.
Once you realize you’ve made a mistake…end the campaign and go back to the drawing board. Don’t try to force something just because your ego is too attached to it. Your timing could be off or you may not have the right people in place for what you’ve envisioned. Perhaps you haven’t changed with the times and you’re trying to get people to buy into a microwaved vision instead of a fresh idea. There are all kinds of categories where we as leaders error and sometimes just come short.
Once a leader understands this, they will lead people more effectively. There will be so much pressure lifted, when you realize you don’t have to get everything right every time. You’re not a hero, you’re human and making a mistake is not the end of your leadership. Don’t quit just because you didn’t see how things were going to turn out. There is enough stress connected to leadership as it is, so take my advice…don’t add to it. Yes, it’s a hard job, but you don’t have to make it impossible.
Not only do leaders have to understand they will make mistakes, but the people they lead have to understand that too. If you’re looking for someone to lead you that will get everything right every time, you’re going to be extremely disappointed. I’m not telling you that there isn’t any bad leaders, I’m just saying, be smart enough to know the difference in a bad leader and a good leader that may have made a bad mistake.
Great leaders take risks and sometimes those risks don’t turnout the way they planned. You will hand-cuff a leader if you don’t give them the freedom to take those risks. They may fail at several tries, but one big leap of faith could change everything around you…that is, if you didn’t leave after the first try failed.
You may have a leader that you have never really given the liberty to lead. Oh, you may have given them the privilege of helping you reach your personal goals, but have you given them the freedom to help others? It’s easy to become self-centered and want all of the attention on yourself. Sometimes in a leaders quest to care for everyone, they can sometimes, unintentionally leave someone out. It’s not on purpose, so don’t assume negative things about them just because they can’t be in all places all the time. Only God is omni-present.
I have been personally attacked in the past for mistakes that I didn’t mean to make. I often think to myself, I wish the people I lead would love me the same way I love them. I never hold a mistake against anyone. I try to look for the good in each person and if they mess up, I do my best to give them the benefit of the doubt. I think the Apostle Paul says it like this, “Love Believes All Things”. Its seems almost unfair that many times in leadership you have to give something that will not get given. You will love more than you’re loved. You will show more mercy than you receive. You will work hard to help people achieve their dreams, while some will walk away from yours. Don’t even get me started on loyalty.
I’m not angry or bitter, I realize than even Jesus face some similar things. Mary and Martha were hurt at him because He wasn’t there when their brother Lazarus died. At different times you even read where certain disciples complained about different things. After three years of investing His time into those disciples, one betrayed Him and sold Him out for thirty pieces of silver. When Jesus died, the Bible records that there was only one disciple standing at His cross. Imagine that…after all He had done for them, only one was with Him in His darkest hour.
Today my heart goes out to leaders…especially Pastors. Not the ones that mishandle funds and abuse the authority that has been given to them, but the ones that have the true heart of God. The ones that are imperfect, but expected to be perfect. I pray for the hurting leader that may be considering stepping away because of a recent attack. I want to encourage the leader that must be accessible, yet would rather live secluded, behind the walls that hurt and pain has caused them to build. If that is you…I’m praying for you and your family today.
You need to know that while others judge you by your mistakes, God makes His determination by what He sees in your heart. God doesn’t count the times you’ve failed…He is moved by your desire to make a difference in whatever you try. Why you did something means more to God than what you did. While most people look for results…God looks for passion. If you know your heart is in the right place, don’t let a set back cause you to step away from your calling. Stay true to your vision.
Whether you are a leader or the one being led, understand that mistakes are going to be made by both. If either side becomes consumed with failures instead of the victories, you will delay your destiny. Make sure you move beyond it and don’t choose to dwell with it. You can’t avoid mistakes, but you can avoid defeat. It’s not your failure that defines you, it’s what you chose to do after you failed.