What To Do When You Mess Up

Everyone makes mistakes! We all know this is true, but it’s still tough to be on the wrong end of someone else’s mistake.  This happened recently with one of my all-time favorite restaurants.  I took my family for a nice night out and it was bad.  Very bad. Slow service, rude service, no service…you know the story. After a talk with the owner a few days later, the restaurant did what was right and won back my loyalty.  They owned their mistakes, apologized, and handled the problem.

In the church world, why do we try to pretend we’re perfect.  God is perfect, His Word is perfect, but the pastors and staff members at our church are not! A well-known pastor gave me some advice when I was 29 years old.  You’re young, use it to your advantage. When you make a mistake, and you will, simply say “Sorry I messed up, I’m young and dumb.” Believe it or not, I’ve used that before.

Here’s the dirty little secret – people already know you’re not perfect, so why don’t you go ahead and admit it?  In fact, I think people prefer real leaders to “perfect” leaders. Here are a few lessons to follow when you mess up…

1) Own it, don’t avoid it. Own up to your mistakes. Just because you avoid it doesn’t mean it goes away! In fact, it just gets worse if you don’t own up to it.

2) Handle it, don’t ignore it. Don’t just admit your mistake, do something about it.  It’s one thing to realize it, another to try to make it right.  Think about your marriage, or your children. Saying “I was wrong” is nice. But saying, “I will make this right” is going the extra mile. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?

3) Learn from it, don’t repeat it.  Someone has said, it’s okay to make mistakes, just not the same ones! Learn from your mistakes so you’re not doomed to repeat them.

What have you found is the best way to handle your mistakes?