We’ve all been there–the frustration of leading. You pour hours into a project or event or relationship, only to experience sub-par results. Or you have to make a decision in the moment, only to realize later you made the wrong choice. Anyone who has been in a leadership role can identify.
Today, we continue looking at a few mistakes we make in leadership, that even though they feel like a colossal failure in the moment, they are actually not mistakes. (You can read the first post by clicking here.)
Human relationships are hard. There are nuances that vary wildly from relationship to relationship. There are often unexpressed expectations that go unmet. And more often than we would like, those relationships do not end the way we wish they would.
Part of our role as a leader is to invest in relationships. In ministry, we invest in people in whom we see potential or promise. So we spend time getting to know them, encouraging them, leading them, trying to help them grow. And occasionally, we watch our investment dwindle away as they begin making poor choices and slipping away.
At the end of the day, when those relationships have slipped away, we feel like we wasted our time, but I would argue it was not a waste of time. We cannot control people. Everyone has free will. But any time we learn to invest in someone, we are providing the opportunity for them to better themselves. Any time we spend investing in people is time well spent.
The real mistake in relationships, however, is not building them at all. If we find ourselves deciding beforehand a student (or anyone in general) will not benefit from the investment of our time, we play a dangerous game.
One final note, beware of trying to relationally invest in a disinterested person. I have built relationships with students early on, only to have them distance themselves later. Find the balance between mourning the relationship (and trying to mend it) and obsessing about the lost relationship. Remain emotionally available, but realize the energy you may be spending trying to rebuild could be spent elsewhere.
People are surprising. You cannot know their hearts until you get to know them, and vice versa. Spend time investing in relationships this week, and be not discouraged.
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