I Was Wrong

Something about those words doesn’t sit well. Maybe they just don’t roll off the tongue. Phonetically, maybe it just doesn’t blend right? Or perhaps, it’s too difficult a reminder that we don’t have all the answers…

Over the last several months I’ve grown to be convinced that no words are more crucial for the vocabulary of a leader than these three. I’m also confident that no three words are more challenging to truly mean.

So why are they difficult?
Admitting being wrong means admitting a shortcoming. By nature, being wrong implies a shortcoming. A failure. An error. It means that someone doesn’t have all the answers. Pride wrestles with this sentiment, because they cannot coexist. The ideology of being large and in charge merely cannot sit alongside of the recognition of wrong-ness. Take a look at politicians. With some exception, the majority of politicians will never admit that they have been wrong out of a fear of no longer being viewed as competent or qualified.

If it is so difficult, why is it important?
Because of what it communicates to those around you. When a leader admits his mistakes, it opens him up to those he leads. It leaves room for humility, for growth, for correction. A leader who cannot admit his or her mistakes is a leader who cannot grow! Growth flows out of a recognition of a shortcoming and a desire to do something about it.
For the believer living as a part of the Body, admitting when one is wrong is vital. Without this key, pride will swell, tension will grow, and disunity will reign as king.

“Admission of a mistake, even if only privately to yourself, makes learning possible by moving the focus away from blame assignment and towards understanding…
Wise people admit their mistakes easily.
They know progress accelerates when they do.”- Scott Berkun

A leader with a humble heart towards those he or she is leading will admit his shortcomings easily and often. Because they recognize the need for it. They see that their becoming better must come as a result of seeing where they need to improve. At the end of the day, all men and women make mistakes. So why try and hide it? Because even if you don’t realize when you’re wrong, those around you do.

A leader who can’t admit when they are wrong is a leader who has made improvement impossible for themselves. A leader who is open about their shortcomings paves the way for their own growth through their humility.
Be sure to keep an eye on your own fallibility.
Those who you’re leading most certainly already are.

If you’re looking for more wisdom in admitting your failures, check out leadership and philosophy author Scott Berkun’s thoughts here and see what you can glean!


My Declaration of Dependence

“This is my declaration of dependence; this is the declaration of my need.” These words used to float through my family’s home, courtesy of my father’s affinity for both Steven Curtis Chapman and a strong contemporary 90’s style of music. I once laughed at these words, for they conveyed a sort of weakness in my mind. Needing others was a sign of inadequacy… At least that’s what I thought. A strong hero rode off into the sunset on his own, unaccompanied, because he was self-sufficient. He needed no-one.

I lived my life by that philosophy, especially over the past 6 years or so. While originally the desire for the company and support of others itched at the back of my mind, eventually it gave way to a stony, egotistical desire to be capable in and of myself. If I communicated to anyone that I needed them, I conveyed weakness, and my pride would allow for no such display. I set out on a one-man mission to prove to the world (and myself) that I was self-sufficient. This arrogance ran deep, evidenced by a recent reminder of an old favorite song of mine. The title of this song is “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.” How much more obvious could my pride get? Yet I sang this song as an anthem of my heart…

I’ve learned lessons in various ways over the past several years. Sudden, like a blow to the head. Studiously: with hours spent trying to understand. But the realization of this area of sin came slowly. It dawned on me over the span of months. Like a creature trapped in quicksand my desire for autonomy and independence pulled me further into danger even as I realized what was occurring… What could I do? Nothing. I finally realized that in order to escape the danger of my pride, I needed something outside of myself. The only one who could rescue me from the grasp of my own pride was the one deserving of all the glory that I had been giving myself. My Savior. Every time I attempted to be self-reliant, I was avoiding depending on God. The praise I awarded myself, was praise owned by Him.

But this pride is not conquered by a one-time realization, it requires a daily surrendering of myself. Every day I must wake up and humble myself before God. “I cannot do this on my own. The praise and glory of all that is involved in my life is yours because you have orchestrated it. This, is my declaration of dependence on You, Father.”

Now, as I come before the cross, the foundation of my relationship with Christ, my pride is stripped away. To stand before the cross is to stand in recognition of my sinful state. My death… in sin. But to stand before the cross is also to stand in recognition of Christ. His death… in unfailing love. The cross means that I see myself for the weak, needy man that I am, and God as the strong God that He is. In the words of Martyn Lloyd Jones “There is only one thing I know of that crushes me to the ground and humiliates me to the dust, and that is to look at the Son of God, and especially contemplate the cross.” John Stott points out that the cross never gives us room for pride. “The cross undermines our self-righteousness, and we can stand before it only with a bowed head and broken spirit.”

We are, as Winston Churchill once suggested, humble people with much to be humble about.

A man or woman of God is not strong. They rely on a God who is. A Godly leader is not capable. They have merely surrendered to a God who is. And lastly, an individual is never sufficient. They must simply humble themselves by trusting in a God who has supplied all of their needs.

So. “This is my declaration of dependence. This is the declaration of my need. On the One who gave His life for me.”