When You’ve Made A Bad Decision

Recently, I came to the realization that a big decision I made a couple years back was a bad decision. Well, it wasn’t a bad decision so much as it was a decision where unexpected events caused it to look like a bad decision.

Still, the decision did not pan out the way I had hoped it would and it was my responsibility.

I made a decision to move the venue for a big ministry retreat from one location to another. The hope was that the new location would allow us to grow the retreat that had already seen youth being turned away because of space limitations.

There were risks. The risks were worth taking to make a great event into an awesome event.

But, instead of growth, I saw a decrease in numbers. The retreat shrank in numbers. I knew that something had to change. I knew that I had to admit failure and make another change to our retreat venue.

As I reflected on this experience, I came to the realization that there are times that I make a bad decision. How I handle a bad decision says more about who I am as a leader than anything else.

Here are 6 things I did that helped me deal with the bad decision I had made.

  • Talk it out with other people. There were about 5 people close to me in ministry that I was able to talk through this situation. The offered me a lot of realistic guidance and supported me through it. It was their insights that helped me articulate my thoughts and feelings.
  • Take time to process. I spent about 2 weeks thinking and praying on the situation. I didn’t want to make a brash decision. I wanted to really think about my response and what the next steps would be.
  • Admit you made a mistake. The worst thing a leader can do is not admit the mistake and pretend it didn’t happened. It takes a secure leader to accept when things go wrong. In the end, people will have greater respect for those that admit their mistakes and work to rectify the situation.
  • Accept total responsibility. Yes, there were things that happened in this situation that were out of my control. However, blaming other people or unexpected situations is not helpful. Don’t blame others. In the end, it was still my decision.
  • Accept the fact that some people might say or think, “I told you so.” I’d be lying to you if I said that this didn’t bother me. When I initially made the decision to move retreat venues, there were some folks that pushed back. In my mind, I was imagining all of them saying, “I told you say!” That bothered me. However, I needed to accept that as a reality and move past that thought.
  • Recognize that it is a price you pay when you are a leader. Leaders take risks. Leaders make mistakes. It comes with the job description. I hate being wrong as much as the next guy, but, there are times that I am wrong. Own up and move on.

It’s never fun to deal with a bad decision that you have made. However, nothing tests the resilience and confidence of a leader more than when this happens. If you can get through this, you can get through anything.

And, I truly believe the quote in the image above is true.

Question: How have you dealt with a bad decision you’ve made?

John Rinaldo

As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.


John Rinaldo


As the Business Manager at St. Catherine Catholic Church in Morgan Hill, CA, Dr. John Rinaldo serves as the administrator over operations and finances for the parish in support of all parish ministries. Previously, John served as the Director of Youth and Young Adult Ministry for the Diocese of San Jose, empowering parish communities to minister to the needs of youth and young adults. John is also an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University teaching pastoral ministry courses to graduate students.



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