Experience is attractive. Mistakes aren’t.
There is something attractive in being able to say that you are experienced in something. And usually, the inexperienced look up to the experienced, to gain much needed insight and guidance, so that they can also eventually one day say that they are experienced.
But no one likes to make mistakes. We tend to reason that making mistakes is a sign of weakness or deficiency.
Making mistakes is a blessing. Without being given the opportunity to make mistakes, we will not be able to gain experience.
I don’t consider myself to be a perfectionist, but when it comes to work, and working in a team, I am a bit like George Foreman; I want to be so proud of it that I can put my name on it. This often doesn’t bode well for the people that work with me. I tend to be a bit of a control freak at times.
I reckon this is one of the most common traits for many people who have had a bit of experience in whichever field: we struggle to give over the reins to less experienced people, because we fear that something that bears our name will be labeled as not good enough. While doing this, we are often withholding someone the blessing of making mistakes, and gaining much needed experience.
Telling people about the lessons that we have learnt and the mistakes that we have made, is a step in the right direction. But it’s not good enough. In many instances, people need for us to create a platform for them to fail miserably, and learn. There are many times where we should be willing to step back, and nudge someone else to the front.
Mike Breen suggests the principle of High Accountability and Low Control. High Control and Low Accountability is much safer; you know the job will get done, it’s much easier to micromanage and you know you won’t have to clean up after other people’s spills. But it’s not going to help people to grow and develop.
High Accountability and Low Control, on the other hand, is dangerous. You will not have control, and there is a good chance that you might have to do things all over again. Your good name and reputation will be at stake. But people will be able to learn, and grow. I don’t like this principle. But I know that it is the best principle.
We see this principle in action with Jesus and the disciples. He taught them a radical and upside-down way of doing life, he showed them what the Kingdom of God is all about. And then He sent them. To go do what they have heard, seen, and experienced. But Jesus didn’t only send them so that they could go fail; amidst the inexperience and the mistakes, wonderful things happened. And Jesus guided them through it all. Through the mess and the beauty.
When it comes to discipleship,relationships with less experienced colleagues, guidance, mentorship, coaching or whatever fits, a good preliminary question to ask, is: what is the most important thing that is at stake here? My reputation, or the life and transformation of the other?
If love is not the motivation behind the guidance, I am withholding someone from growing.