I don’t know anyone who likes to fail. We all try our hardest to avoid it, yet it’s inevitable. I was working with a young leader recently who was exercising a new leadership skill for the first time. We talked through details for approaching this new competency, but afterward he came to me discouraged. The outcome was something he labeled a “FAILURE”. He wrestled with self-doubt, he battled with his ego, and asked himself a laundry list of self-examination questions. While it didn’t go as he envisioned, he was now asking all the right questions, and was eager to learn.
I don’t enjoy watching anyone fail but I do enjoy being there to help a young leader process his mistakes. You see failure without a mentor can be disastrous but failure with a mentor leads to development.
In Acts 13:13 John Mark clearly abandoned the God-ordained calling to travel with the team commissioned to take the gospel to the Gentiles. A few years later this failure caused Paul to reject Mark as a team member on the second missionary journey. But Barnabas refused to give up on Mark and invited him to travel with him to minister in Cyprus (Acts 15:37-38). Barnabas mentorship undoubtedly paid off because years later Paul told Timothy, “Send Mark because he is valuable to me.”
I thank God for failure because…
- It gives me the opportunity to authenticate my belief in the leaders I mentor.
- It gives me the opportunity to be there to answer the tough questions
- it gives them the opportunity to demonstrate emotional fortitude.
- It gives them the chance to gain leadership wisdom.
When a young leader under your supervision fails, thank God because you’ll find this to be one of the most opportune times for leadership development, don’t miss it.