In my role as a denominational administrator, I attend a lot of meetings with other leaders. It is exciting to hear of their plans for strengthening existing churches, starting new churches, holding strategic evangelistic events and training the next generation of leaders. My role gives me a unique vantage point of being able to not only hear about these plans, but to watch them be put into action over the course of time.
Everyone loves it when a plan works perfectly and the goals are achieved. God gets the glory, the Kingdom is expanded and the leadership teams' abilities are affirmed. Most are equally thrilled when a plan hits an unexpected bump along the way and the leaders listen to the Spirit and display wisdom in adjusting the plan in order to keep move forward. Making adjustments to a plan mid-stream should not be considered failure. God is still glorified in those moments and the Kingdom still be expanded according to God's great plan of world redemption.
Regretfully, there are also times when a plan just does not work at all. Leaders must have the courage to recognize that sometimes they just misunderstood what the Spirit was saying and then seek the Lord for a new plan. This can be hard for leaders to do. It is much easier to continue to cling to the failed plan and attempt to pour more money or manpower into it in the hopes that it will work better with increased resources. But this rarely happens and eventually the leaders must abandon the plan, even if they never publicly admit that it failed. Though this can be embarrassing for leaders, such realities are just a part of being a leader.
All leaders make mistakes. But great leaders learn from those mistakes and grow through them. When great leaders experience failure they seek to discover why the plan failed and what kind of plan would have been more effective. Due to this learning process, great leaders tend to make fewer mistakes in the future than they did in the past.
Less effective leaders fail to learn from mistakes and keep repeating them. Less effective leaders tend to blame others for their failures. They may even look for an "enemy" to lash out at even if that enemy had nothing to do with their failure. Their goal is to re-direct attention away from their failure so that people will not notice their lack of leadership. Though this may appear to work in the beginning, if less effective leaders continue to make the same mistakes long enough, people begin to see through their smoke screens. Less effective leaders will eventually find themselves no longer in leadership.
We live in a time in which effective leadership is in great demand and short supply. For those of us who seek to serve the Lord in Kingdom expansion, we must look to Him to help us become great leaders. The church of Christ deserves no less.