I used to think that as I got older, I would get better at things and become a better person. The fact is that I feel that I’m not getting better. Sometimes, I feel like I’m getting worse.
A few weeks back, I was working on a ministry project that was very detailed oriented. I’ll be honest, I’m not a detail guy. I was ultimately the person responsible for the job, but I found myself doing a very peculiar thing. I kept passing on the project to someone else to finish up.
The particular person I was passing it on to is very detailed oriented, but this was not their job. As I was “passing the buck” to her, it became clear very quickly that I was asking her to do something that was not her responsibility and she had some frustration about it, rightly so.
I made a mistake. Unfortunately, this was one that I have made before. I haven’t become a better leader. I haven’t learned from my mistakes.
I tried my best to reconcile the situation. I called her and shared with her my frustration with the process and my apology for clearly asking her to do more than she was responsible for. We cleared up some things, and continued to move forward.
The fact is, as a leader in ministry, we are going to make mistakes. In fact, I believe that if I haven’t made many mistakes, that means I’m not risking enough or trying to expand my leadership skills and ministry.
How do I react to my mistakes? This is an attitude issue. Here are a few ways I’ve reacted to my mistakes in the past.
- Get really mad at myself. I clearly remember one night playing basketball as a teenager at a gym for a church event. I kept missing my shots. So what did I decide to do? Punch a wall. Needless to say, my hand became so swollen and bruised that I was unable to play the rest of the night. Dumb. I’d be lying to you if I said that I still don’t get mad at myself. I do get mad at myself, I just don’t punch walls anymore.
- Shrug it off. Sometimes, I just don’t care if I made a mistake or not. I don’t take responsibility and I don’t work to fix the situation. Worse yet, I might just totally ignore the situation.
- Reconcile and learn. This is the best option. When I make a mistake, like in the situation above, I need to immediately move to reconcile the situation if people were involved (and people are always involved.) Then, I need to reflect on the experience, learn from the mistake, and never make the mistake again.
I’m not perfect at this. I find myself making the same mistakes over and over again. Clearly, I’m not learning from my past experience. However, I know I handle mistakes much better than I did when I was younger.
How do you react when you make mistakes?