Learning From Your “F’s”


Today in my Organization and Administration class (yes, sounds exciting), we had an interesting time experimenting with a new assignment to the course titled, “Ministry Failure Assessment” (a stolen & modified idea from Leadership Can Be Taught.)

The point of the assignment is for each student to present a case study to the rest of the group describing a failure they personally experienced in ministry and ending with three key questions they desired to have answered.

Following their presentation the rest of the group help provides insights, follow-up questions, and potential “should haves” to the presenter.

A few things I noticed today in light of this exercise for the presenter:

  • The presenter is learning that dialogue in leadership is essential. They find that they can actually learn something from others, realizing they don’t have the corner on what God thinks.
  • The presenter is forced into critical thought upon writing a case study on their past ministry failure. Again, one key to sound leadership is the ability to diagnose & analyze properly.
  • The presenter is stripped away of this dangerous “heroic myth” of leadership: thinking that you have to have all the answers…never ask for help…and never admit failure.

For the listeners, they also entered into some key processes:

  • The listeners needed to administer good listening skills to properly assess the situation. If you can’t truly listen, you can’t truly assess.
  • The listeners were forced to give feedback. Intervention skills balanced with grace and truth are essential.
  • The listeners entered into another key art of leadership: asking good questions. When a good question is asked it forces people to recognize the important issues…it draw one’s attention to new revelations…it helps people to learn.

In a ministry world where we feel like we have to exaggerate our successes and mask our failures, take time with your ministry teams or growth groups to have times of sharing failures. Embrace the nuggets of truth that can be found if your moments of malfunction to ensure greater leadership & ministry effectiveness.


~ by Dave Smith on February 1, 2008.

2 Responses to “Learning From Your “F’s””

  1. we should do this in table groups over a couple staff meetings.

  2. Yea, possible. I wonder what rules we would have to have in place that stresses they talk about a scenario unrelated to The Chapel…as you really want people to be open, and I think it would be harder to talk about a big mistake you made while the senior pastor is at your table.

    We’ll see if we can work something like this in. Right now with the latest survey results regarding Program Staff Meetings…we will potentially be losing a meeting starting this month (You finally got what you wanted!)

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