Grandma: “Charlie, you’ve got your shoes on the wrong foot. Honey, you’ve made a mistake. Let me help you change them. Okay?”

     Charlie: “Granny, mistakes ain’t bad. I remember when grandpa got on you for failing to put gas in the car, you told him that the mistake was no big deal that anyone can make a mistake”.

     Take a moment and look at the persons seated around the leadership conference table. There are some obvious differences among the attendees: dress, height, education, agendas, fingerprints, DNA, etc. But there is ONE thing you all have in common. You have all made mistakes.

     The same illustration applies to the congregation.  In the midst of all the differences, there is that ONE thing we all have in common. We have all made mistakes. And guess what? We will all make mistakes again somewhere on our journey down life’s road.

     What is a mistake? I once heard a farmer say that a mistake was “miss-placing a stake” on the wrong boundaries of a piece of property which caused disputes and lawsuits. That makes sense. However, Mr. Webster defines mistake as: 1 to understand or perceive wrongly; to interpret or judge incorrectly; 2 to take (someone or something) to be another; recognize or identify incorrectly; 3 to take someone’s motives or actions wrongly; to err in judgment; 4 a fault in understand and judgment, etc.


Various Traits of Mistakes

Obviously, not all mistakes are the same or have the same consequences. Mistakes take place in the various categories of life and therefore have varied results or consequences. Here are some of those traits and consequences.


  1. A mistakes can have some immediate consequences.
  2. A mistake can have long range consequences.
  3. A mistake can hurt only the person making the mistake.
  4. A mistake can hurt others in numerous ways.
  5. A mistake can be a positive occurrence with benefits.
  6. A mistake can be an eye opener or a blinder.
  7. A mistake can be a learning experience or dumbing one.
  8. A mistake can occur in 101 contexts and ways.
  9. A mistake can be a friend or foe. It’s our choice.
  10. A mistake can be forgiven or held as a grudge, an enemy.
  11. Many times we are ignorant of a mistake we’ve made.
  12. Sometimes the consequences of a mistake don’t show up until much later. Years go by after the mistake, e.g. health issues.
  13. Mistakes may occur several ways:
    1. From a lack of knowledge.
    2. From a lack of understanding.
    3. From a lack of participation.
    4. From a deliberate deception or behavior.
    5. From a lack of experience or skill.
    6. From the lust of the flesh (James 1:11-17).
    7. From unforeseen circumstances.


What is the biggest mistake you’ve made? How did you correct it?


Mistakes Leaders Must Avoid

The following list of mistakes a leader must avoid should be approached with the understanding that not all of them are sinful or wrong, which some are, but are expediencies or not the best way to lead.

  1. Avoid the mistake of arbitrarily judging people (Matthew 7:1-5)
  2. Avoid the mistake of walking by sight (2 Corinthians 4:7).
  3. Avoid the mistake of thinking all follower are in the same state of spiritual growth (Ephesians 4:11-17). Each is in his or her own place of growth.
  4. Avoid making arguments from Scriptures take out of context (John 10:35;            ).
  5. Avoid binding traditions and expediencies as being equal with biblical authority (Mark 7:7, 9).
  6. Avoid trying to deny or conceal your mistakes. Be honest with God, self, and others. They will “find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
  7. Avoid not asking God to forgive your mistakes. Ask Him to forgive and give you wisdom not to do the same things again and give you wisdom (James 1:3-7).
  8. Avoid digging the hole around the mistake deeper and deeper. Fill it with positive beliefs and behaviors.
  9. Avoid equating a mistake with being a failure in life and giving up never trying again.
  10. Remember the Bible characters who made mistakes, Noah, Jonah, Moses, David, Peter, Paul, etc. You are in good company.

Lesson Learned from Mistakes

Since we have made mistakes, are now making mistakes, and will make mistake sin the future, why not learn major lessons while enrolled in Mistake University? Here are some of the lessons which may be learned as we matriculate in MU:

  1. Mistakes help us discover who we are.
  2. Mistakes help us discover our weaker spots.
  3. Mistakes teach us valuable lessons learned no other way.
  4. Mistakes help us to let go of the idea of being perfect.
  5. Mistakes prove that we are very human.
  6. Mistakes teach us how to live beyond and without regret.
  7. Mistakes help us to grow and evolve into better persons.
  8. Mistakes help us face the realities of real life.
  9. Mistakes help you know it’s okay, you are okay, and it will be okay.
  10. Mistakes remind us there are no successes without failures.
  11. Remember you are not the sum of your mistakes.
  12. Remember negative thinking creates negative results.
  13. Most mistakes aren’t as bad as we think they are.
  14. Mistakes usually eliminate what doesn’t work.
  15. Regardless of mistakes, life must and does go on.
  16. Making mistakes is better than faking perfection.
  17. Making mistakes help you develop empathy and sympathy.
  18. Making a mistake will help you be wider next time.
  19. Without mistakes, you are staked in the comfort zone.
  20. Mistakes help you remember, “Those of you without sin cast the first stone” (Jesus Christ).
  21. Remember as a leader in the church you will make all kinds of mistakes. Here are just a few:
    1. You will make mistakes in decisions.
    2. You will make mistakes in speaking, writing, and communication.
    3. You will make mistakes in judgment and timing.
    4. You will make mistakes in planning.
    5. You will make mistakes in teaching and preaching.
    6. You will make mistakes in your family.
    7. You will make mistakes in manners and socializing.
    8. You will make mistakes in delegating.
  22. Remember these keys:
  • Do all you can to prevent mistakes.
  • When you make them acknowledge them quickly.
  • Always document what you learned.
  • Avoid the same one in the future.
  • Never, never, no ever let a mistake stop you