Admit The Mistake

Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan [Genesis 16:3]

The promise for the future had been told. Abram had heard it, received it and believed it. Yet nothing seemed to be happening. There was no evidence that the future God had spoken of was actually going to come about. 

What we would do in this situation? We become anxious, nervy, impatient, worried, maybe a little bit frustrated. We wave our fist at God and ask Him what He is up to. Maybe we get an answer, maybe we don’t. Worst case scenario, we give up on God altogether and walk away before any answer has had an opportunity to appear.

We are one step away from greatness. When we walk with Jesus into our future we are possibly one step away from doing incredible things for Him. However, we are just as easily one step away from an act of stupidity. One step from making ourselves invisible for God.

Abram and Sarai had the promise for the future but that doesn’t make it easy. Waiting for what you know is right can be tough. Here are 5 things that I think we can learn from their experience so we don’t act the same way…

TRUST GOD COMPLETELY. If God has said He will do it, then we need to be able to trust completely that He will. This means trusting Him even when the timescale doesn’t match our own or when things look different to how we imagined.

COURAGEOUSLY TAKE ONE STEP AT A TIME. Faith takes courage. Walk into the future one step at a time. Remember that the steps of a good man (or woman) are ordered by the Lord. Hold your ground and don’t compromise the word of God. 

LEARN SOME PATIENCE. In our ’now’ culture we are not happy to wait, yet God often asks us to. Patience is evidence of God at work in our lives. The Bible tells us that it is part of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Patience is not weakness but strength. It’s a part of keeping your faith in God. Don’t be a hurry for the right result to come from God.

DON’T FORCE THE FUTURE. Impatience can lead to mistakes. Impatience can lead to a lack of self control or in this instance with Abram and Sarai, impatience led to them playing their part in making the future happen. Good doesn’t always mean it’s God. When we keep trusting, stay courageous and remain patient, we are less likely to force things to happen.

ADMIT WHEN WE GET IT WRONG. The toughest thing to do sometimes. Let’s be honest though, we will get it wrong. We will try and be God in our lives and make an answer happen. Best thing to do is admit the mistake. There may still be consequences but by getting ourselves out of the way again, we make space for God to bring the answer He had promised in the first place.

Leadership and Humility

Leadership is about admitting when you are wrong.

Mistakes are not necessarily fatal but an unwillingness to admit that you have made mistakes may be. In my nearly 25 years in various leadership roles, I have learned that I would rather choose to eat humble pie than be forced fed it. That’s never going to look pretty and probably end up messy.

Like I have mentioned before, when I was 19 I was anything but humble. I knew what was needed. I wasn’t thought of highly enough sometimes. It was about God, it was about the young people I led, it was about the team and but most importantly, it was about me too.

In the Leadership Challenge, Posner & Kouzes evidenced that the number one thing people look for in a leader is honesty and that’s why humility is so important. Admitting your mistakes, knowing your own limits, seeking guidance, appreciating the input and success that others bring all help you stay humble and create that all important sense of trust. I have definitely learned the hard way, no one really likes a know-it-all.

  • Humility is not a weakness although when we start out in leadership we might often see it that way.
  • Humility builds your credibility. We just don’t like that it takes so long.
  • You can’t fake it. False humility just doesn’t stand the test of time.
  • If you are unwilling to be humble then you may fall because of pride.
  • Humility involves being honest which we don’t always enjoy.
  • Humility says I don’t know everything.
  • Humility thinks of others, the team, those you lead. It doesn’t think of self.
  • People buy-in to someone who shows themselves to be humble. And that’s leadership.

You can be a humble leader and still lead with strength. Genuine humility is an attractive quality in any leader, you just have to be determined to stick at, it can take a very long time before people talk about you that way.

Tell me what you think. Do you agree?

How has a lack of humility tripped you up in your leadership?

Ways I Deal With My Mistakes

Last week I wrote about my leadership mistakes and it was commented that a follow-up might be useful. What do you really do when you make a mistake? As I write, I am given to think about some obvious examples from my own life.

Here’s some observations about mistakes…

Seeing our own mistakes and openly admitting to them is a whole lot easier than the often unsolicited evaluation we receive from others. That’s never comfortable but it happens a lot. It’s amazing how much we enjoy informing others of their mistakes while not necessarily inviting the same type of feedback in respect of our own performance, and how we might improve ourselves.

Everyone thinks they are more suited to the job, able to lead things better, make wiser decisions, handle things more effectively, when in reality, there’s will just be a different way of doing the same thing. Sometimes we just have to trust our leaders, other times we just have to help them, maybe even acknowledge we might be wrong and they might actually be right.

I acknowledge that my leadership mistakes may hurt you, but please know, that when you get it wrong, it hurts me.

When leaders get it wrong, people love to tell them and others about it. When those we lead get it wrong and hurt us, as good leaders, we can’t tell anyone.

9 things I’ve learned to do when I make a mistake:

Take a slice of humble pie – never tastes great but have learned to get an appetite for it
Smile nicely and listen – usually with my hands tightly clasped together behind my back, which stops me from waving them about when I want to respond
Reflect – is it true, is there something to learn from this, what action should I take?
Apologise – many times even if you are not wrong. Be the bigger person and say sorry and ask for forgiveness
Forgive – let it go, don’t hold a grudge. Not easy but very important
Be ready to change – become an even better leader
Learn to understand that everyone is different – after all, it’s always about people
Try and not say ’Stuff It’ and give up – don’t quit
Handle the consequences – often you just have to take the hit. I have come out of a mistake with some debt, a loss of trust, people leaving church, mess and rebuilding to be done. 

You can’t hide from the repercussions of a mistake, whatever it may look like. However, you can grow, learn, improve and gain trust once more and become a stronger, more credible leader. After all, God uses ALL things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.

My Leadership Mistakes

Leadership mistakes. You have to expect to make them. Any leader who says they have never made any mistakes is a liar.

Stepping into a leadership role means putting yourself out there, taking hold of responsibility and making decisions. As the leader not everyone will agree with you for any number of different reasons. Maybe they consider you have acted too hastily or without due diligence. Sometimes it’s because you have got it wrong, made a mistake, other times they feel that way because you are right and they just don’t want to agree.

Either way, a good leader has to be willing to learn and develop better self-awareness. I am on that journey.

I’m sure others would be more than willing to share my misdemeanours but I’m going to get in first. Here is a list of some of mine. Each one of these has a story, which means it relates to a person or team, which could mean there is a hurt attached too.

  • Disregarding the thoughts & feelings of other people
  • Not listening properly
  • Too hands on or too hands off. Control (conveniently placed under the cover of systems & processes)
  • Being in a hurry
  • Avoiding conversations
  • Lack of feedback. Both kinds. Appreciation and correction when appropriate
  • Thinking that only I know the answer
  • Inappropriate lifestyle decisions

My mistakes demonstrate my humanness. They are not pretty. When I think about some of these, I cringe a little. In my early days of leadership I wasn’t too quick to recognise my mistakes, least of all, want to learn from them.

Nowadays I see the value in learning from the wrong. It builds credibility, develops my character,  creates trust and I am hopeful that as those I lead now see my willingness to learn they will have some grace towards me for the mistakes I may make in the future.

How have you learned from your mistakes?

Are You Well Positioned?

It’s an interesting season we are in at Xcel Church. Definitely a time of transition. I truly believe God has a great future in store for us, as a Church and as individuals, if only we will POSITION ourselves correctly.

The best of future times requires good decisions to be made today. I am as guilty as the next in having made decisions based purely on what I consider to be best for me and never even considering that I should ask God what He thinks.

My choices are my choices. WRONG.
My priorities are my priorities. WRONG
My opportunities are made by me. WRONG

WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

The more I consider God’s way of doing things the more I have to admit that I have had it wrong. Too many times I have made a choice based only on me meeting my NEED. For example…I NEED money to pay the bills so this job will do. I’m not saying you shouldn’t work BUT…

…if that job though advantageous financially may be detrimental to you spiritually…how do you decide?
…if that job though advantageous career wise affects your ability to gather with others regularly…how do you decide?

I know how easy it is to do things for the right reasons but actually for it to be all wrong. I am amazed how easily people decide to pursue something that knowingly takes them away from Church, knowingly loosens their attachment to other believers. 12 years ago I made that mistake. Even after counsel, I still made that mistake and every time decisions need to be made in our house, I pray that I will not make that mistake again.

My NEED for security is not met in the POSITION I have in my job, my title or my role.
My NEED for security is met by the right POSITION I keep with God.

Priorities. Love God. Love my family. Love my role & ministry. I will not give so much to church that it destroys my marriage or my family. However, I will never use that as an excuse to not SERVE, to not be in Church on a Sunday. Encouraging our girls to experience God has always been a priority for us and we believe that ‘planted in the House of God, they will flourish’.

Choices. We have a number of non-negotiables in our life that influence the choices that we make. Whenever possible my family & I will ALWAYS be at Church. Not only that but we will SERVE at every opportunity. I have learnt that I can RECEIVE and SERVE at the same time.

Our PRIORITIES mean we will work hard to not make decisions as a family that interfere with our ability to WORSHIP God. And not just worshipping at home but as we GATHER together on a Sunday. Powerful things happen when we worship God corporately & it is important that all my family have every opportunity to encounter God.

I am learning that right choices come from having right priorities.

Opportunities. FAITH is a funny thing. We like to help it on it’s way. We encourage God with ideas for answers to our prayers. We drop hints to God about how much we like this or that. FAITH at its purest is trusting in Him. Nothing more, nothing less. No one said it was easy. Following the right OPPORTUNITIES that God brings your way is easier when you have right PRIORITIES set in place.

I PRAY that I would be more like the Apostle Paul whose life was continually interrupted by the Spirit of God leading, showing and telling him the way to go and the way not to go. I pray that I would be more in tune with the voice of God in my life…to PRIORITISE this aspect of my relationship with God, so I will be better POSITIONED to make great CHOICES and better understand the OPPORTUNITIES God wants me to take.

I believe that as we do this as individuals it will IMPACT on Church. We will grow, therefore Church will grow. ‘As for me & my house, we will SERVE the Lord’. No better place to be. No better thing to be doing than helping to build local church, build the Kingdom of God.

[What do you think?]

Cultivate God-Confidence

When Paul wrote to the church in Corinth in pointed backwards reminding them of the mistakes that their ancestors had made. How even though they had experienced the incredible miracles with Moses, and the wonder and grace of God, they were still defeated by temptation during hard times.

He tells them…
‘We must be on our guard so that we never get caught up in wanting our own way…’ [1 Cor 10:6 Msg]

Isn’t that the daily challenge for most Christians? Or is that just me? Some days are easier than others. But when things are tough, that’s when our guard can fall, we give the devil a glimpse, an opportunity, then it becomes all about ‘ME’ and having my own way.

He reminds them…
‘We must never try to get Christ to serve us instead of us serving him…we must be careful not to stir up discontent…’ [1 Cor 10:9&10 Msg]

He describes these things as MISTAKES that their ancestors made. These are self-centred attitudes. Paul describes them as WARNING MARKERS. Examples written down so that we don’t make the same mistakes. If we can keep our attitude right then we put ourselves in a better place to meet this challenge. How do we stay on our guard?

He tells them…
‘Don’t be naive
Don’t be self-confident (that’s useless)
Know that you are not exempt
Understand that we can fall flat on our faces as easily as anyone else
CULTIVATE GOD-CONFIDENCE
Remember that God will NEVER let you down’ [1 Cor 10:12-13 Msg]

I realise it sounds easier written down than it might be in reality. My prayer…’Keep me disciplined, keep me focused on the right things, help me put my confidence in you God, even when everything around me might be telling me otherwise. Thank you that you never let me down.’

How’s your GOD-CONFIDENCE today?

Faith, Questions, Doubts, Mistakes and His Grace

I’m in a strange frame of mind at the moment. Thinking of questions that demand some real honesty…

Are you questioning your faith?
Do you sometimes feel unworthy?
Do you worry how making mistakes effects you with God?

Let me just say: my faith is not in doubt.
I am however, fully aware that for many people these types of question reverberate around their mind. It’s okay. Questions are okay. Don’t panic. Just don’t walk away from God. Dialogue it!

Faith isn’t faith without questions. If you had no questions then you wouldn’t need any faith. Right? I think I am discovering a few things as I walk this Christian journey about faith, questions, doubts, mistakes and how God views things…

– there are somethings about God and His nature that I can learn
– there are somethings about God and His nature that I may never understand – they can go on my list of things to ask when I get to heaven
– making mistakes is inevitable
– I need to try hard to not make the same mistakes and learn from them along the way
– even if I make mistakes, however UGLY they may be, the grace of God and His willingness to forgive will always go further – it truly is deeper, wider, higher then any stinking sin
– grace is beyond my thinking most of the time
– questions are good – they help me learn
– accepting that God loves me isn’t always easy especially when I make those stupid mistakes
– when I think I know better about my life is when I’m in danger of becoming self-sufficient and that can create distance between me & God which can only damage the relationship
– my thinking I’m inadequate doesn’t stop God from making me more than adequate – He makes me whole, perfect in His sight
– there really is nothing I can do that can make God love me more or make Him love me less
– if God is for me, then who can be against me? NOTHING – difficult to fathom which makes it hard to accept
– I must learn to accept it though – GOD IS FOR ME – all the time
– God works ALL things for good – even when I reckon that’s not possible. It’s what He does, I just have to get over myself (which is probably the greatest challenge)

What about you – what are you learning on the journey?