Was the Apostle Paul ever wrong? Well, he was human, so I am certain he made mistakes. Who was right and who was wrong in Paul’s disagreement with Barnabas in Acts 15? Then there is the curious passage in Acts 16 which suggests Paul got his wires crossed.
Luke wrote, “Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia. When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to. So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas. (Acts 16:6-8)
What does it mean “having been kept by the Holy Spirit” in verse 6 and “they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to” in verse 7? Sounds like Paul and friends mistakenly went one direction, then the Lord prompted them to go another way. They listened to the Spirit and were successful because they did. This is the “Macedonia call” passage, which prompts Paul to begin the evangelization of Europe. Good thing Paul listen to the Spirit!
My point is sometimes leaders can be wrong (even Paul). Sometimes they make mistakes. Sometimes they think they should go one way and (if they are listening) the Lord prompts them to go in a completely different direction. Good leaders listen. Learn. Change direction if necessary. Then move forward.
I’ve been wrong plenty of times. I’ve made my share of mistakes in pastoring. I’ve spoken when I should have been silent. I’ve been silent when I should have spoken. I’ve written blogs (ahem) that I regret writing. I’ve been wrong before and I’m pretty sure I will make mistakes in the future. I wish that were not the case, but it is. This is not news to anyone who knows me, I am not perfect (ahem again… neither are you).
What does one do after making a mistake? It begins with listening to the prompting of the Spirit. What follows is the “Triple A Challenge,”
Admit any wrong doing (either sins of commission or omission).
Accept responsibility for any hurt that may have occurred.
Apologize (if needed) in word and deed.
Assuming we are not talking about a sinfulness that disqualifies a person from Christian service, mistakes in judgment, direction and focus occur in the church. Following the mistaken person’s “Triple A,” all involved need to forgive, accept forgiveness and move forward.
Let’s acknowledge following the “Triple A Challenge” is not easy. It usually involves swallowing pride. Being humble. And most importantly, not repeating those mistakes again. In other words, it involves learning. Let’s also acknowledge it’s not always easy to forgive either. The steps following sins/mistakes/errors are tough all the way around—but necessary.
Last time I checked, we are all human (leaders included). Humans make mistakes (leaders too). Humans don’t always think through all the consequences of their words and actions (yup, including those in authority). Humans act like humans. Ugh. Sometimes it’s such a hassle to be a human. But we are what we are—this side of heaven. As such, when a person (leader or otherwise) takes the difficult, necessary Triple A Challenge, then let’s then cut each other some slack.
The golden rule has not changed in the social media world (maybe it’s more needed than ever). “Do unto others, as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). Let’s follow that when people (including leaders) make and admit mistakes; and let’s follow that even when they don’t.