In a world that glorifies online perfection, authenticity gets marginalized. Feelings and failures are relegated to some far off distant land where our hurts, habits and hang-ups are locked away permanently. Thus creating a cycle where we need to crop the photo, edit the pain, and avoid the feelings in order to never reveal our true selves.
Let me be the first to end this cycle of dysfunction. I will declare proudly, with an expectation of grace to follow my proclamation:
“I am a failure.”
It has happened before and will happen again. Pastors aren’t perfect. Despite how some try to act, and in spite of the way they are often perceived. Pastors love Jesus and His church yet we are imperfect leaders trying to point people to the perfect Savior.
Throughout my ministry there have been some colossal missteps. By God’s grace I have had no moral failures (How do you handle a pastor’s moral failure), but that doesn’t mean all my time as pastor is filled with perfect leadership. As I look back there are three major areas where I fell short over the years.
I hate conflict. It’s the worst. I don’t want to do it. Avoidance will just make it all go away, right?
At least that’s what I assumed early on. Boy, was I wrong! Avoiding conflict leads to festering tension. It’s like a wound you don’t take care of quickly. It may heal, but may also become infected. Thus causing greater damage than you ever envisioned.
I have failed others, multiple ministries, and myself countless times because I avoided conflict. If I had simply taken the initiative and dealt with the conflict right away, then countless heartaches could have been avoided.
Ministering to others without ministering to myself.
I got into ministry because Jesus changed my life, and I still believe he changes lives today.
The challenge arose on multiple occasions when I forgot that God still needs to minister to me. As Billy Hybels famously put it, “Doing the work of God was killing the work of God in me.”
Some of my largest failures resulted from times where I was in the spiritual desert. I ministered faithfully to others during that period, but it was not through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. I led by my own talents.
Ministering solely out of your own talents is a recipe for failure. The times where I wanted to quit and hang in the towel were these moments where I forgot to pursue God. I was Martha and not Mary.
Assuming Silence was Good
Nobody is complaining, which means everything is all good right? I’m doing an awesome job, right? Wrong!
Silence doesn’t mean golden.
It took me years of tough conversations to learn that people spotted my failures long before I did. They created frustrations and aggravations. Then eventually turning into an undercurrent of tension I didn’t even realize was happening. Eventually resulting in someone sending me the “We need to talk” message.
Those conversations have happened often enough now that I’ve learned my lesson. Silence is not always good. It just means I need to ask more questions.
All of these failures have resulted in great benefits and growth in my life. I reveal all of them not looking for sympathy, but rather letting you learn from my mistakes. Also giving you permission to own the times you fell short. We don’t have to be perfect. God teaches us our greatest lessons in our messiest moments.
What are some of your failures you have learned from over the years?