Succeeding enough to know I’m failing…


When I was really into running, and training for a marathon, I learned the power of the ‘little things’. You might have never known you had a bad stride, or a weak core, or poor hydration because you never ran enough to find those things out. But as you improve in your running, those little things begin to matter more and more. As you grow as a runner, you’ll begin to see those areas of weakness you were blind too before. Success has a tendency of exposing failings.

The church I pastor has grown steadily over the last few months, which is great. Numbers aren’t the end goal, but “more people in worship” means that we can look forward to doing bigger, more impactful things in the community, and more lives can encounter God, which are the real goals.

This growth has also exposed me to two of my biggest weaknesses as a leader. And I hate it.

I have always said that I want to be good at delegating, which ultimately empowers and equips people to fulfill their God-given mission in the local context. Delegating also frees me to do fewer things at a higher quality. So it’s a win-win.

Turns out, I’m not really good at delegating. I’m scared to impose or burden people with things I don’t want to do. I don’t want to burn people out. And sometimes it feels easier to do it myself. So, sure, I’ll order and pick up the catered lunch for the workshop (which I also coordinated). Never mind that I could have asked someone else to do those things. Sometimes it just feels easier to do it myself anyway.

It’s easier to do things myself because I’m also not so great at communicating. For whatever reason, I seem to think that if I tell someone 40% of an idea, they can put the other pieces together. And while I can see the way something could/should/would look, apparently other people need me to actually tell them what I’m thinking (I know, right). This weakness of communication also hurts my attempts at delegating, because I’m not clearly articulating the tasks or purpose of the delegation.

I, and every leader I know, have a choice in a moment like this. You see, I don’t actually have to improve in my communicating or delegating. I can keep doing what I’m doing. The church may continue to grow a little bit more, and I’ll either be working 60+ hours a week with leaders who are frustrated from not knowing what’s going on.

Or I could buckle down and do the awkward, uncomfortable, hard work of trying to improve my communication and delegation skills. I can embrace the fact that I don’t have the leadership thing figured out just yet, and be willing to make mistakes along the way. I will have to be willing to fail. The goal is just to “fail forward”.

As Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit”. The inverse is also true. If I willingly remain poor at communicating and delegating, then poor communication and delegation will become habits. If, however, I work to develop good habits of growth and improvement, then I will be a better leader. 

The reality is that success and growth will continue to expose weaknesses I have as a leader. And I’ll likely have to revisit communication and delegation fairly regularly. But for now, I, and every leader, have a choice to make about our habits.

Let me know your thoughts down below.

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