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Leaders make Mistakes!

Filed under: Leadership — Pastor David May 15, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

“Leadership mistakes, both sinful choices and bad decisions, hurt followers. Our followers pay a high cost for our mistakes. ” Dr. Iorg

It is the hard and painful side of being a leader when we make a mistake, or choose something that hurts others. But it happens to all of us. What am I talking about?

There are three kinds of mistakes a leader makes. 1-bad decisions (when we make uninformed decisions or blindly moving forward without the counsel of key leaders, or decisions based on misinformation), 2-sinful choices (when we disobey what God reveals in His Word), and 3-a combination of 1 and 2 (I hate those the most, but they happen).

What should we do when we find ourselves involved in one of these mistakes? The answer is simple but not easy. The starting point of recovering from a bad decision or sinful choice is the same: take responsibility for what you have chosen. Sometimes we blame others for what happened or excuse ourselves, and nothing could be worse. When we fail to take responsibility by blaming others or excusing ourselves we hurt others, injure our leadership, and mislead those who use our bad choices to justify their bad choices. That’s right! Sometimes we become an excuse to others for their sinful decisions or their poor judgment in the ministry. They may say, “Pastor did it, so why are you upset with me?” I know you do not want to be the cause of someone excusing their own mistakes.

Secondly, admit  it.

It is tempting to deny that you made a mistake until you realize that everyone already knows. They were hurt by it. It is wise to understand we cannot hide the fact that we made a bad decision. I find it amazing what I do after I make a mistake or sin in front of others. I usually ignore the fact that anyone noticed that I sinned or chose poorly. Those who follow me watch me closely. Do I really think they did not see the mistake? They saw it. The sooner I admit it, the better. The longer I wait, the more damage that mistake causes. Someone may argue, “Time heals all wounds.” Not if I fail to take responsibility and fail to admit I wounded someone. Each time I see those I injured, their first thought is that injury I caused, or that bad decision or that sinful choice I made. They block out all the great messages I preached, or the acts of love and service I have done, or the great visions I have launched. It is all lost because they are frozen in time, snagged at the point of that bad decision. The same is true for you, my friend. There is no healing until you take these steps, admit it.

If it is a bad decision, based on poor insight or information, tell those who are under your leadership the truth. This will rebuild your credibility, and refocus the church or organization on the right path. By admitting this you help everyone move forward.

If it is a sin, confess it as a sin. I have heard people say, “If anyone was offended by what I did, I am sorry.” That is not a proper confession. Rather say, “I sinned and hurt you, please forgive me.” Sin must be confessed to those who were involved in that sin. If you sinned privately before two or three people confess your sin to the same two or three. If it was at a board meeting, then call each person at that board meeting and confess your sin. If it was in front of the whole church, confess it there. But here is what one leader did. He confessed in a general way to the whole church he makes mistakes and hopes that everyone realizes it and will just accept him for that. That is the cowardly way to confess, and it is not a true confession. Be specific and talk to the specific ones against whom you’ve sinned.

Thirdly, accept the consequences. “I have sinned” has been quoted by the stubborn Pharaoh (Exodus 9:27, 10:16), the false prophet Balaam (Numbers 22:34), the moody King Saul (1 Samuel 15:24, 30, 26:21), the greedy Achan (Joshua 7:20), the critical Shimei (2 Samuel 19:20), and the betraying Judas (Matthew 27:4). All of these said the words but did not mean it. By contrast David said it and meant it (2 Samuel 12:13, 24:10,17, 1 Chronicles 21:8). He took responsibility for his sin and admitted he was wrong. Psalm 32 and 51 are powerful examples of confessing sin. What was the difference? David accepted the consequences; the others did not want to have any consequences. They wanted to be excused, not forgiven.

What are the consequences? They vary but there is usually public embarrassment, or humiliation before those you lead. Or there is a loss of leadership credibility and respect. You may experience financial losses, giving is less, or a cut in your salary by those over you. You may be required to be more accountable and less free to do whatever you like for a given period of time. But there are consequences. Those who think there should be none, are foolish. They resent the fact that they have to regain their credibility or regain trust. But such reactions only hurt the leader further.  Resenting the consequences cause more negative reactions from those who follow us or those with whom we work. Take the consequences with a humble spirit and you will rebuild your trust and respect much quicker.

Lastly, move on. Do not stay in the valley of depression or refuse to forgive yourself for these bad decisions or sinful choices. God has forgiven you, and your people are willing to keep following you, move forward and get on with the work of the Lord. There are too many people to serve and to love into the kingdom of God. Do not let these failures stop you and crush your spirit. Do not fall into the trap of thinking you are better than this, and you should never have made such a bad decision. This is spiritual pride. Rather, choose to accept God’s forgiveness and accept the fact we are all easily misled.

May God add His encouragement to you, especially after you have made a mistake.

Father, we are so easily misled, like sheep that go astray. If our insight is faulty and/or we failed to do our homework and research, it only reminds us of how much we must depend on You. If our weaknesses overtake us and we sin against the very ones we love and serve, we see how frail our leadership really is. How this can destroy these precious relationships. Please help us to make our way through the dangerous waters of mistakes. We confess our sins, our need for guidance, and accept the consequences that our choices have incurred. Help us to move forward and not get mired down with regrets. May we forever live in the sunshine of your forgiveness and grace. In Jesus name, Amen.

Pastor: One who loves the People — Part 4

Filed under: Leadership — Pastor David May 1, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” Aristotle

“Evaluation leads to excellence.” Rick Warren

A new year is before us. How have you grown and developed this past year as a leader? I want to encourage you to go as high as you can in becoming the best leader possible.  Let us dedicate ourselves to improving our leadership for the glory of Christ, the good of the church, and the personal growth in our own lives.

This is our last article about the title and meaning of “pastor” or “shepherd.” We have looked at Psalm 23 and the excellent qualities of Yahweh as the Pastor or Shepherd of King David, and over the Jewish nation. That title has been fulfilled in the person of Jesus who is the “good shepherd, the great shepherd, and the chief shepherd” of the church today. Leaders are called “shepherds” or “pastors” under Him as our “chief shepherd.” We are to represent Him in all that we do. This title is important to all who lead the church. Defining this term is defining our job as leaders.

Someone may ask, “What do pastors do all day?” We answer, “They love their people to greatness. They love them as Jesus commanded them to love the church, even as He loves them.” (John 13:34-35) Every chore and duty is done in love and because of love. Pastors are chiefly men who love their people. This is without exception the highest mark and most genuine quality of a Biblical pastor. Read 1 Cor. 13 to see that truth for yourself.

So let us grow and excel in these skills. Here is a test to see how well you are doing as the pastor of your people. To participate you will mark yourself from 0 to 10 on each quality:

0 being nonexistent,
1-2 poor quality but you do practice it at times,
3-4 developing somewhat,
5 average,
6-7 developing and growing consistently,
8-9 achieving and become an example,
10 a highly respected model and mentor.

The only measurement for how well you do is your honesty. If you need help, ask those nearest to you to be honest with you (especially your wife and/or children).

  1. ___Others feel safe around me (physically, emotionally, and spiritually).
  2. ___I express compliments and appreciation for those I serve and for those with whom I serve.
  3. ___I offer hope to others when things are going well or poorly.
  4. ___I listen to those around me and they know it.
  5. ___I understand the emotions of those around me and validate their emotions.
  6. ___I know where we need to go and I take our people there no matter what we face.
  7. ___My people know me as an encouragement in their lives.
  8. ___I solve the conflicts we face by mutual consideration and communication.
  9. ___I have improved the quality and quantity of what the people do with their lives.
  10. ___The longer people know me the more they respect me.

Now add up the score.

If you scored 10-20 you need to remove yourself from being a leader and become a learner from someone who scores higher.
If you scored 21-40 you need to be awakened to the greatness of your calling and be reminded that you must improve. Do not step down, but step up. Seek another leader who scores higher than you for that help.
If you score 41-50 you must decide to grow. You are getting by with mediocre leadership, but you will not be fulfilled until you grow higher in your leadership skills. Remember the day when you face Christ, and what you want Him say about your leadership.
If you scored 51-70 you are a growing leader with a lot of love. As you spend time with other leaders let them take you even higher.
If you scored 71-90 this is a call for you to be involved in developing other leaders. Your leadership is deeply needed and other leaders will learn much from you.
If you scored 91-100 you will hear the Chief shepherd say, “Well done good and faithful pastor.” You are one of the rare leaders in the church and we need you stay faithful. You are our inspiration.

The manner in which a leader uses his/her time reflects his/her priorities. People or tasks? Both are important. We have a number of tasks as pastors. But people must be in our schedule as much as tasks are. I have been encouraged to spend at least half of my time with people, especially the ones I am mentoring and developing.  This takes about 25-30 hours a week. That leaves me 25-30 hours a week for my tasks. If you take a month and track you time usage, what will it reveal?

A few years ago when I evaluated my time usage, I found that I was not spending any time with unbelievers. I had no unbelieving friends. I was shocked at first, because I am so dedicated to preaching the Gospel. But when I evaluated how I was budgeting my time, I discovered this terrible reality. I repented and changed how I used my time. Now I can say I have several unbelieving friends that I spend time with each week.  I am bringing the wandering and lost sheep to the Good Shepherd (Luke 15:1-7).

People matter. Our time must reflect how that statement plays out. So take this week and evaluate the levels of your pastoring and the way you spend your time mentoring believers and evangelizing the lost, i.e. how you spend your time with people. Let us use this year before us to the best of our ability in multiplying our lives in those we pastor, the believers and the unbelievers.

Father, you have created us and redeemed us to multiply our lives in the lives of others. We cry out to You that we bear fruit, more fruit, much fruit, and even fruit that remains. Guide us and empower us as we abide in You to love those who are around us for Your glory and their good. In the name of the Good Shepherd. Amen.