Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I failed: 3 lessons to learn

Leadership is a process not an event.
I know some of you saw the failure title and eagerly scrambled to get the juicy gossip on some new scandal. Sorry, no such luck today. But since you're here might as well read on. I believe this truth I'm learning has implication not just for my life but for your life as well.

I read this phrase in Joshua 3:7 where we get to listen in on a conversation between God and Joshua. God said to Joshua "...I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of Israel so they will know that I am with you."

The phrase "I will begin" kept echoing in my mind. I believe that God wants to exalt us (lift us up). I believe that the phrase "I will begin" is a reminder of the fact that God often works in moments rather than just in a moment. God works in decisions rather than in a single decision. God didn't exalt Joshua in a moment. He said today I will BEGIN. The process of making Joshua a leader worth following was one that would be just that...a process. If it was true for Joshua the same is true for you and I!

As a leader that wants to be better tomorrow than I was today both at home and at work this is encouraging news. God's development of me is a process. Each moment; each decision; each failure and success is another opportunity for God to continue that process.

What about failure?
Today I made a mistake that affected several of my staff. It wasn't a moral or ethical blunder. It was just a mistake that affected them and put them in a tough position. It literally bothered me all day. But here is what I'm learning. Our mistakes and how we respond to them are some of our greatest opportunities for God to establish and "exalt" us as leaders. I'm pretty sure I didn't handle it perfectly but I did own it. I know for sure that I wouldn't want to follow a leader that doesn't own mistakes and I don't expect my staff to follow one either! And moving forward I'll fight to make sure I don't put them in that sort of situation again.

Put it all together and here are three lessons:
  1. God establishes us over time not all at one time
  2. God establish us to fulfill his purposes not our own ambitions
  3. Our mistakes are often an opportunity for God to establish us. Own it but don't repeat it.

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