It’s time to settle an important life question. As a leader, how do you deal with failure?
Failure is the inability to complete a task. Instead of feeling incompetent or giving into failure and giving up, leaders must learn to reset our expectations. We might even need to alter our schedule and regroup our team.
We all fail. But it’s how we handle failure that will set us apart from other leaders. We must learn to deal with failure. Do you give into self-pity? Do you blame other people? Leaders must learn how to productively fail and lean into it with a forward motion. As we learn from our failures, the momentum can actually work as a catalyst to move us into the next season of growth and productivity with a committed and thriving team.
Of course, choosing an attitude of faith instead of fear begins deep in the heart of a leader. The lively discussion ensues in The Encounter Lead Like Jesus training, in the “EGO Anonymous meeting. “When applied, the enlightening biblical information can make a team come to fruition or even mend a fragmented team, once a leader understands how pride and fear are addictions that can negatively impact the quality of our leadership. The Christ-centered leader, instead of “Edging God Out” because of self-centered and self-serving motives, decides through Christ’s strength to “Exalt God Only.”
Belief that our mistakes can be lessons doesn’t just happen. It’s a conscious choice to see beyond the foibles. It is having faith in Someone who is reliable. We are reminded of God’s way to handle our doubts when Jesus said, “‘If you can’? Everything is possible for him who believes.” (Mark 9:23)
The Apostle Paul also helps us re-center after we miss the mark. In Philippians 3:12-14, he writes, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that which Christ Jesus took hold of me. But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Fear can cause us to question our leadership capabilities, and even wonder if God has really called us to lead. Fear is a natural response to danger. In Psalm 40:1, David cries out, “Rescue me, O Lord…”Living for years in the fear of what could happen, what might happen, David’s future was uncertain as the victim of King Saul’s pursuit. In the midst of our panic, we must turn to God’s solutions. We must move through our reservations and into the confidence of God’s provision and protection. In Psalm 34:4, David shares how God provided for him. “I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.”
Philippians 2:5-7 further explains the faith aspect of servant leadership: “Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant.” Jesus Christ was the greatest servant leader who ever lived. He faced certain death on the cross. Although He questioned it, He was obedient. He didn’t see His crucifixion as a failure. Jesus Christ persevered unto the end. His dying words in Luke 23:34:“Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
As we choose to serve others like Jesus did– without fear and with humility – we intentionally restore God to the place He deserves in our lives. With the attitude of a student, in humility and love, we can learn from our failures. We find ourselves propelled ahead, moving forward in our own growth This gives us a renewed sense of security and confidence as we see our previous methods of comparison to others is replaced with contentment and assurance in our leadership role. We can welcome the next season of working together with a committed and thriving team.
God is bigger than your failure! The kingdom of God is intentionally built by leaders who live by failing forward.
This blog was originally posted by Lead Like Jesus in 2016 and reprinted on 10/26/2022.