There were two occasions this past week where I disappointed two groups of people. One was completely out of my control, and the other was because of a decision that Kimberly and I made that was best for our family. In leadership, ministry, and life in general there will be times when you make a decision that will disappoint others. They may not have personally benefitted from what you chose not to do, they may feel the other option is a more favorable choice, or they simply just don’t agree with you and the decision that you made. As much as you may try to avoid disappointing others it seems to be unavoidable.
So here are some things to keep in mind as you go through the fallout of your decision making process.
1) Keep the lines of communication open. Nothing causes anger and mistrust more than when a person stops or avoids talking with other people. “Checking out” when things are getting sticky is not the way to go, and the issue is still going to be there whenever you decide to “check back in.” As best as you are able, keep the conversation going (as long as it is not one of anger or arguing). As uncomfortable as the situation may be, you have to stay engaged and see it all the way through.
2) Give people information . Try your best to explain the process of how you reached the decision and why. They may not agree with or like the decision that you have made but at least they know why you did what you did. People naturally tend to read things into the empty places where they lack information. Give them the pieces of the puzzle to enable them to see how you put the pieces of the decision together.
3) Try to repair the Relationship. If you know that your decision has angered other people, disappointed them, or in some way damaged your relationship with them, make the effort to restore it. Pray and seek wisdom from the Holy Spirit as to the timing and how you should do this. We are not talking about changing the decision or in some way weakening it, only that you want the relationship and friendships to be restored.
Matthew 5:23-24 “So ifÂ you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you,Â 24Â leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
4) Learn From Your Mistakes. Every decision is made as you undergo a process. Like chess pieces on a board, one move leads to another, where eventually your options are narrowed and you must make a final decision. But at each move along the way, there are areas of learning. If you undergo a similar situation in the future, what could you learn from this experience? Where could you along the way have made the decision making process easier? less confrontational?
Albert Einstein once said, “Insanity:Â doing the same thingÂ over and over again and expectingÂ different results”
5) Â ClearlyÂ Understand Your Priorities. In every person’s mind there should be a clear line of how you prioritize your life. Then when decisions need to be made, you can run your decisions through this matrix. My priorities are as followed:
a. God, b. Wife, c. Children/Family d. Ministry, e. Church/Family f. Friends & other relationships.
So if a decision needs to be made that would affect my friends in a positive way, but my family in a negative way then I would choose against it. For example, because of my ministry I have limited time left in a given week. So, I would not have a “guys night out” right now in my life because I feel I need to be at home with my family (which comes higher in my priority list). If you keep this order clear in your life, then you will end up disappointing people, but it won’t be those who matter most to you (and who you have a personal responsibility to God for their care).