Are you the type of person who avoids talking about your failures? Or, do you openly discuss them with others? Most people that I know try to cover up their mistakes because they are afraid of how it makes them look; they’re afraid of what others may or may not think about them. After all, no one wants to look bad, right?
But, is hiding our failures really the best way to deal with them? I don’t believe that it is-especially when it comes to leadership.
Concealing your failures robs others of the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. Isn’t that an important part of leadership-helping other leaders to grow, develop, and avoid the pitfalls? Of course it is. Developing leaders means that you share the good, the bad, and the ugly-it’s an essential part of equipping others to lead better.
But the reality is, when it comes to admitting your failures, it’s just downright hard. Yet, when leaders get real, they can make a real difference in the world!
For instance: I have a friend who leads a large Christian organization. Not too long ago, it was discovered that his number two guy had a moral failure. However, before the indiscretion had come to light, several people in the organization, warned the point leader about his right hand man, citing that he was dishonest, manipulative, and just plain dangerous. Still, the senior leader ignored the shots fired over the bow, which proved to be a huge mistake!
As you can imagine, it was heartbreaking for my friend because he had to dismiss the long-time trusted employee and friend from his executive leadership position. When I asked my friend how he was coping with such difficult circumstances, he had very little to say regarding the matter. In fact, rather than discuss it, he has done his best to avoid the subject because it “looks bad.”
More than anything, I wish that my friend would simply admit that he “missed it.” I wish that he would speak frankly about the matter and confess that at some point along the way, he should’ve listened to the many voices that warned him that something wasn’t right with his number two man. I wish that my friend would open up about what he has learned from the experience, as well as what he’d do differently if he had it to do over again. His words of wisdom would be incredibly helpful to leaders like me.
The story of my friend has really convicted me of the need to admit my failures so that I can help others to avoid the same mistakes.
Admitting your failures is such an important aspect of personal growth. Failure is a normal part of life that we must embrace and use to make us stronger and more resilient. Our failures remind us of our humanity and our immense need for grace.
2 Corinthians 12:5 says, “…I will boast only about my weaknesses.” I love that verse because the Apostle Paul reminds us that openly admitting our weaknesses actually gives us strength. Imagine that? And later on in verses 9-10 Paul goes on to say about God, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
When we admit our failures God’s grace shines through and works in mighty ways. It works to make us, and those we influence, stronger. So the next time you make a mistake, regardless of how big or small, don’t be afraid to talk about it and let God use it to draw others unto Himself. Let God use your weaknesses to make you, and those with whom you have influence, stronger.
Think about it.