I was in a meeting recently where I was asked to give a brief report about a ministry assessment. When the time had come to give the report, I sped right into it. I was ready and had all the documentation needed. I immediately started talking about the ministry assessment, analyzing it, and sharing some feedback.
As I was speaking, I received a look from a colleague. It was one of those looks. It didn’t phase me. I kept going.
My colleague stopped me, seemingly a little nervous about interrupting. She said that she needed me to slow down because she didn’t have the documentation available and neither did some of the other people around the table. I was explaining things and they had no idea what I was talking about.
I stopped talking. I waited until everyone was ready. I must have looked like I was impatient about this pause. In actuality, I was. I looked at my colleague and she felt bad about having to stop me. I looked unhappy. I wasn’t. I was just impatient, but I was not unhappy.
Once everyone was ready, I went ahead and finished the report.
I knew that I had made my colleague a little uncomfortable at the meeting. I felt bad about that. After our meeting had finished, I immediately went up to her to speak about the situation. “I know I tend to work fast and be a little impatient at times, but thank you for stopping me,” I said. “I really appreciate you doing that.” We joked about it and all was well.
The fact is, I make mistakes. I made a mistake at that meeting. I need to ensure open and honest dialogue where everyone feels comfortable. I didn’t do that well that day. I also work in church, which calls us to reconciliation. I needed to reconcile myself with her. That’s why I did what I did.
As a leader, building relationships is key. Letting the team know that I made a mistake and asking for forgiveness is important. I learned that day a couple principles that have helped me in my ministry leadership.
- Speak with the individual right away. When I make a mistake, or I hurt someone in some way, it is my responsibility as a leader to reach out to that individual. It stops things from getting worse if I ignore the issue. In essence, it is about healing the relationships in my life when I have done something wrong. I have gained greater influence because of my actions.
- Model the way for other leaders. When I make mistakes, I need to personally admit that mistake, apologize, and then take right action. I want other ministry leaders to do the same, but the only way I can do that is to model it. This is key to relational ministry.
How do you feel about approaching others when you make a mistake? Is it an easy or difficult thing to do? Why?