Celebration! Yes, you read that correctly.
When we, as leaders, or as teams have experienced failure, the last thing on our mind is celebrating. Joy, laughter, and affirmation may not even appear on our radar in the hours, days, or weeks following our frustrating experience. Those these things may not seem important in the shadow of failure; however, they are important for our future.
In his book A Long Obedience In The Same Direction, Eugene Peterson speaks a profound truth when he states, “feelings are great liars.”1 Our feelings can quickly cloud our judgment and can keep us from celebrating the efforts of our team. The emotions that lie to us can cause us to miss the good, the beautiful, and the moments of God’s grace. Your team gave their heart. You dreamed a future that hadn’t existed before. God’s grace sustained you for another day.
No matter how we might feel, it is crucial to go beyond our emotions. We create teams and shared visions for more than a momentary victory or defeat. Our team and our vision are on a journey together and thus need handling as long-term investments.
A significant step in holding your team and vision together is celebrating. Celebrate the things that went right. Celebrate the team member that spent hours working on your promotional material. Celebrate that your team dared to try something that was a risk. Rarely is something so much a failure that there is nothing to celebrate. The fact that you live another day to try again is worthy of celebrating.
Some of the best leaders I have witnessed recognize the long road ahead of them. They acknowledge that their team is traveling a path filled with turns, pot-holes, speed bumps, and straightaways. Do not let your feelings lie to you. You have things to celebrate. Your team has given you reasons to celebrate. God’s grace has given you reasons to celebrate.
After you’ve done the hard work of asking questions, do not forget the critical step of celebrating the good. There is tomorrow, and you need a team ready to try again. Celebrate today, and everyone will be prepared for tomorrow.
1 Eugene Peters, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000) p. 54