Everyone knows “to err is human,” but no one wants to be wrong. Why is that? Why are we so driven to be correct but maddened by our mistakes? We may be hiding insecurities, feeling inadequate, or ping-ponging between shame and embarrassment. Sadly, our desire to be right distorts our responses to our blunders.
Now there is a difference between mistakes and destructive decisions. A miscalculation in spending is a mistake; stealing is a crime. Saying something inappropriate may be a blunder, but slander is a sin. So this is about what to do about our pesky mistakes.
- Admit your mistakes. We need to relax – we will make mistakes! Someone pointed out that the only people who don’t make mistakes are dead people. As leaders, we may think being right is a badge of honor. However, the more we embrace our mistakes, the better leaders we’ll become. When we mess up, we need to ‘fess up.
- Learn from your mistakes. Making mistakes doesn’t give us a pass to be foolish. If we fail to learn and grow from every mistake, we’ll just repeat them. There’s a story of a young pastor asking a seasoned pastor about how to make better decisions. The older pastor said, “I’ve learned to make better decisions through experience.” The younger pastor asked, “Well, how do I get experience.” The answer came back, “By learning from my mistakes!” Success comes from experiences and experiences come from mistakes.
- Plan to make mistakes. Expect it. I know that’s scary, but we should make new mistakes. Playing it safe isn’t an option. Take that risk. Step out in faith. Be prepared to fail. Albert Einstein said that “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.”
The hard truth is that we will make mistakes. If you are doing something, they’ll happen! Only as we admit that and learn from our mistakes can we make mistakes in a healthier, more fruitful way.
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Randy, I think you are spot on in what you have written! The problem I experienced with mistakes is the seemingly long memory of people in the church that bring up a mistake months and years later. I wish folks in our churches could learn what you have written, recognize that mistakes are inevitable and help their pastor grow through them instead of fearing them.
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