When Leaders Get It Wrong: Part 2

In our first post of this series, we considered the reality that many of us will face: our ideas will not always come to fruition the way we hope they would. The final thought we left with was this; failure is a temporary necessity to healthy futures. In this post, we will begin considering ways to equip ourselves and our team to face the inevitable failure.

A truth I have found helpful about failure is this; failure is always a possibility.

I know that may not help you sleep well tonight, but consider the consequences of such a thought. If we understand that failure is always possible, then we acknowledge it as a potential reality. We can be prepared to handle the aftermath in a more meaningful way. It will not catch us off guard. We do not plan for failure, nor did we hope for failure, but we can handle failure if we first acknowledged that it is a possibility.

In addition to preparing our hearts, this sort of preparation can motivate and even excite a team. Anytime we are trying something new, pushing boundaries, and dreaming new possibilities there is a risk of failure. Share this knowledge with your team, and suddenly there is fuel. The team will gain a sense of risk or a feeling of danger. Immediately your team will begin to feel as though they are playing a part in ground-breaking work. Your team will be taking an active role in shaping the future.

Of course, this is no excuse for work completed halfheartedly. We should work diligently and seek out success.

When we willing accept that failure is a possibility, then we disarm failure of all its power. In the process, we prepare and even excite our teams. I also believe there is humility that comes from this notion. We understand that even our best ideas may not succeed and thus we become more dependent upon the Lord.

Dealing with failure begins at the beginning. Let us acknowledge that failure is always a possibility. By knowing such a possibility exists we will remain humble, generate excitement, and will not be shocked by the sting of failure’s pain.

When Leaders Get It Wrong

We have spent hours working on a new idea and anticipation builds as our design nears fruition. When suddenly visions of groundbreaking work are squashed by the reality of empty seats, a mass amount of leftovers, and questions about what went wrong.

As a leader, there will be times we get it wrong. Sometimes it is an individual failure, and other times it is a team’s shared failure. Regardless we should not fear failure. Failure is the pain of development. We may experience pain at the gym, but we know that the pain experienced typically leads to better health. Much like pain, failure is only temporary. Failure pushes us and leads to healthier leaders, teams, and organizations.

In upcoming posts we will explore the aftermath of failures. In the meantime may we take this thought with us: Failure is a temporary necessity to healthy futures.


Reaching Your Secondary Audience

30826_vintage_microphoneJust out of high school I worked as a pitchman. My job was to speak about products in a compelling way as to make the audience want to purchase what I was presenting. I would set up at flea markets and festivals attempting to draw the largest crowds I possibly could. The larger the crowd, the more I sold. The lessons I learned from this job have been invaluable to me in ministry.

One such lesson that I am often reminded of is that the immediate audience is not always the primary audience. The hardest part of developing a crowd is getting the permission to begin a presentation. Permission was granted when I could get one interested party to stop and listen to my presentation. What I found most interesting is that the person who purchased my product was usually not the one who gave me permission to present. Instead, my sales generally came from the onlooker, the person who joined the presentation late and listened from a distance. My immediate audience, the one who gave me permission to begin, rarely became my customer. My customer was the secondary audience.

The same is true in ministry. In youth ministry we have our primary audience: our students, parents, and families that are part of the church. We can have a positive impact on them for Jesus. My experience though is that when our primary audience gives us permission, and we seek to do our presentation well, then a door is opened to the curious onlookers. These onlookers are many times the ones that we get the opportunity to share the gospel with for the very first time. These onlookers or secondary audience can quickly become our “customers” as we share the good news of the resurrection.

A friend once shared with me that he was praying with a church member who was in the hospital. The nurse came into the room and asked to speak with my friend. He was worried because he often prays loudly and was certain that she was going to tell him to keep it down. Instead, the nurse said that her other three patients heard his prayer from their rooms. They all wanted to know if he would also come pray with them.

Friends, may we not shy away from our calling. May we seek to do well in our presentations, whatever they may be, so that we are presented with more opportunities to speak to this secondary audience. After all, the second audience is ripe for the harvest!

Wrestling With Decisions

What do you want to eat for dinner tonight? I do not know. What do you want?

Have you ever had that conversation before? My family and I have that conversation often. I think all of us have our own ways of making decisions. Regardless of these various methods, making a decision is still a challenge.

Recently I completed a master’s degree. Since this completion I have received many questions. What is next? Will you be leaving us? First let me say that the completion of this degree does not indicate any major life changes forthcoming. It does bring to mind the question that I have been wrestling with for months. Do I step forward into a doctoral program?

I have seen a recurring theme throughout my life. When I am uncertain about a decision, I continually wrestle with the question. There was a time that I was not sure if I needed to complete an undergraduate degree. I kept wrestling with the question until I finally decided, yes I need a bachelor’s degree. There was a long period of time that I wrestled with the idea of ordination. I have since decided, because it just wouldn’t go away, that I needed to complete the ordination process. The same was true with my master’s degree. I had some time to put it off, but it kept nagging at my heart and mind. I may have also had a little push from my wife, thanks Ashley!

A doctoral degree is not likely to increase my pay. It may or may not give me extra opportunities to reach out into the community and to fellow ministers. I can find no tangible reason, other than becoming a better leader, to move into a doctoral program. On the surface the answer is no. I should not move further in education. Despite the lack of tangible, there is a nagging sense that maybe I should continue. It will not leave my thoughts. Maybe this is how I am supposed to make decisions.

At this time I do not have an answer. It may be that the constant reminder of further education is an answer. It may be that I see the opportunity as a blessing, that if not taken, is squandered. Regardless, I wonder how you make decisions? Could the constant barrage of reminders about a decision be the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? 

Broken Country, Broken Heart

As I was preparing to leave my house today, across the
television was the image of police searching for criminals. The police were
searching for two individuals who had killed a police officer. Maybe you have
seen the report I’m talking about or maybe you have seen similar reports.
Unfortunately, such images are all too common in our day. Within these images I
couldn’t help but feel pain. I couldn’t help but feel the pain of our broken
nation. Usually I am a global citizen. By that, I mean I feel it is just as
important to pray for other countries as well as our own. Yet, today I am very
much broken hearted for our own country. We like to believe that we live in a
country that is accepting and tolerant of all people. The reality is, we simply
do not. We are a broken nation.

We shutter at images of police brutality or brutality towards police. The argument in
Kentucky, about whether a clerk should be forced to issue a marriage license to
a gay couple, indicates that we struggle over whether honoring another
individual’s rights surpasses that of our own rights. We are discovering
atrocities committed by Planned Parenthood and feeling shame that we live in a
society where bartering for pieces of a baby’s body is even possible. We are a
broken nation.

I don’t often call for this, but let us pray for our nation. We are in need of the
power of God to fill our nation. We are in need of a reminder that all of us
have the potential to do evil. When God reminds us of that fact, we remember
our humanity and God’s divinity. We remember that at the core of our being is
an utter dependence upon the one who is, was and always will be. Let’s pray for
less divisiveness or more unity. Let’s pray for an attitude of humility and
love. Let’s pray that our broken nation may be healed and that we may soon see
a society that looks less atrocious and more like God’s Kingdom. We are a
broken nation. My heart today is broken. May the Lord mend our brokenness.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning,
is now, and will be forever. Amen.