Recovering from Wrong Turns
Have you ever taken a wrong turn in ministry? Every leader has stories of missteps and miscalculations. We choose the wrong strategy to carry out our mission, or invite the wrong people to join us along the way, or make mistakes in relationships at church.
In 1870, Maria Shrode traveled by wagon train from East Texas to California. Mrs. Shrode, 44, had four step-children and four children of her own, ages two and up. She kept a diary throughout most of their journey. On Friday, June 17, she wrote: “Took the wrong road and traveled about four miles out of our way. Found we were wrong, turned round and took the back track and came to the right road, but one of the teamsters turned a wagon over in turning around. But it did not do much damage except bursting a couple of flour barrels open, so we picked up the things and reloaded and traveled on.” (From the fascinating book Ho for California)
The outcome of these “wrong roads” depends more on how we manage ourselves in response to them than anything else. Success as a leader does not depend on being right 100% of the time. We need the maturity to say to ourselves, and to others, I was wrong. I’m sorry. Let’s turn around. Let’s try this road instead. We need a stronger sense of self to admit our mistakes than to charge ahead regardless.
We can find it a tough call. Sometimes the right (and unknown) road can look like the wrong one—it might be better to soldier on. Other times we must cut our losses, and decide not to cry over spilled milk (or flour). Leadership is not about being right all the time but having the courage to make a decision and the wisdom to live it out the best we can, and adjust course or backtrack when necessary.
All ministry leaders face times when we have to “pick up things, and reload and travel on.” Leaders need persistence.
- When have you had to reassess your path?
- What did you learn from the detour?
- How have you recovered and gotten yourself and your church back on track?
Please feel free to answer these questions or leave any other comments below.
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