Do any of these scenarios sound familiar?
* You get caught off-guard by a parent who is upset about an issue regarding their child – you respond in a less-than-professional manner and really let your “humanity” show.
* You miscalculated the possible attendance to a big event (by over 100) and you don’t have enough food, supplies, or volunteers to pull it off.
* You left your preparation for Kids Church until Saturday Night, then get hit with an unforeseen emergency. You end up walking into Kids Church with NOTHING planned – and EVERYONE knows it!
All of us face scenarios like these (if you’ve been in ministry for ANY length of time, that is). We’re human, and mistakes are a normal part of life. Ministry (and every other part of life) is packed with difficult choices that require wisdom, and often, we have to face problems we’ve never encountered before. Mistakes are inevitable—sometimes really big ones! No matter how hard we try to do things right, the question isn’t “Will I make mistakes?” but “How will I respond to my mistakes?”
A long time ago, I made a commitment to avoid wasting my mistakes because they are some of the best learning opportunities in life. Whenever I mess up, I try to ask four important questions:
1) Why did it happen? – Was it a lack of planning, unrealistic expectations, poor communication, wrong motives, unforeseen obstacles, or some other reason?
2) Was it avoidable? – Many of our goofs can be avoided with better planning, communication, and execution, but some can’t.
3) If it could have been avoided, what specifically could I have done to prevent it?
4) What do I need to know, be, or do to avoid repeating the mistake?
Sometimes this is a process you can do all on your own. Other times, you may need to bring a trusted outside voice into the situation to help you evaluate and answer these questions. The number one rule in this process: DON’T BE DEFENSIVE! You can’t come to the table with a defensive posture. If you spend your time defending your motives, your intentions, and your methods – then you defeat the purpose of evaluating.
Instead, be open. Every mistake is an opportunity to grow. Learn from them. That way you don’t ever have to repeat them. We are going to make mistakes. Let’s just be determined to make NEW ones – not repeat the old ones. Learn from your mistakes – and keep growing!!!
How about you? What do you do in order to help you make sure to learn from your mistakes? Comment and get in on the conversation!
I write about this subject in much more detail in my book, “I Blew It!” As part of our “12 Deals Of Christmas” special through High Voltage Kids Ministry Resources, you can get my book for only $5 this week (retail is $14.99)! CLICK HERE for more info!