I will be the first to admit that I struggle with patience. As a leader, it is one of the biggest qualities that I pray for. Most of the time, I can bite my tongue and be a good sport, but when someone causes a big problem at an event I am running or with a project I’m in charge of, I’m not always at my best, to say the least.
In order to tame myself and help build people up, I have trained myself to take a deep breath and ask two questions before I confront people that have made a mistake:
Is it worth being said?
Are you confronting this person because you can use it as a teaching opportunity, or do you just want to “let them have it?” Unfortunately, many of us tend to identify with the latter. I mean, it feels good, right? It helps us feel like there is a little bit of justice. We think, “They totally deserve it.” But where is the grace in that? Why are we forgetting that we are capable of mistakes as well? Most of the time, the person knows they made a mistake and us coming up to remind them of that won’t make it better. Don’t confront unless you have an opportunity to teach someone or to help him or her grow.
How am I going to say it?
The first question doesn’t mean anything unless you have the tone to match. One time, one of the team members that runs our computer graphics accidentally deleted the teaching video from our computer. We had to improvise and had almost a minute of “dead time” where nothing was happening on stage. It was ROUGH. After the service, I knew that this was a teaching opportunity and that a conversation was needed. But my tone did not back up my intention. I used phrases like, “How did this even happen?” and “Why didn’t you check the playlist before service even started?” I hurt her feelings and made her feel totally dumb. As soon as I left, I knew I needed to apologize. It was a wasted opportunity to improve her as a team member and encourage her at a time when she didn’t feel great about herself. The way you say it is radically important.
Surely I’m not the only one who has struggled with this. Spend some time to reflect on how you handle those situations. Do you show grace?