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I Screwed Up – Part 2

26 Jul Leadership, Student Ministry | Comments Off on I Screwed Up – Part 2
I Screwed Up – Part 2

Today, Jerry Higley wraps up a two-part post on learning from our “Screw Ups”. To read part one, click here. – Editor

I’ve been in full-time youth ministry for 34 years and this past year was the busiest season I’ve experienced. Our ministry was undertaking a major project and as time progressed more and more of the responsibility to complete it was falling to me. My board had tried to protect me from this happening. But, I eventually found myself knee deep in alligators. No doubt you’ve been there too.

There was no one left to delegate responsibilities to, no more volunteers to recruit, and no way out. Not only was I working Monday through Friday, but for ten months I was working every Saturday as well. Strangely, this project energized me yet it consumed me.

Thankfully, my children are grown and my wife is patient and understanding, yet I knew things were out of balance. Emotionally, physically and in my schedule I had no margin. I was in a season that was unsustainable and I knew it. I also knew I had to ride out the storm. If, you’ve been in ministry for any length of time no doubt you’ve had seasons like this. They’re no fun.

I have the honor of serving on the Project Renovation Team and it’s has been a rich experience. In one of our meetings the team members were asked to contribute to a new project. It was a great idea and no doubt would benefit youth leaders across the region. I remember thinking, “I don’t know when I’ll have time to complete my assignments.” But, because I’m an eternal optimist and a people pleaser, I agreed to do my part. Bad move!

As time went on I didn’t complete my assignments. I thought about them. I wished I had time to fulfill them. I felt guilty because I hadn’t done them. But, I didn’t even have sufficient time to devote to my real job. Clearly, I was over committed. I still had good intentions. I wanted to do my part to help the team but the reality was I screwed up.

During the next team meeting it was clear that I had screwed up. I could see it in the look of several of my friends. My failure had created extra work and stress for them. Worse, I had hurt and disappointed my teammates. I had good excuses and legitimate reasons why I didn’t come through but at this moment they seemed hollow. I had screwed up.

When I apologized to those I had hurt they were gracious to forgive me. It didn’t remove the stress and extra work that I had caused them but it did bring health back to the team. I’m grateful.

Lessons I learned:

  1. It’s better to under promise and over deliver than not to fulfill responsibilities.
  2. At times it’s wiser to simply say, “I can’t.”
  3. The sooner you’re honest with another person the less damage it will cause.
  4. Pride keeps me from saying, “I screwed up.”
  5. If I would have written a blog sooner, I wouldn’t have to tell you how I screwed up!

Jerry Higley
Executive Director at Lebanon Valley Youth For Christ
Jerry Higley is the Executive Director of Lebanon Valley Youth For Christ and an adjunct faculty member at LBC teaching Student Ministry courses at both the undergrad and graduate level. When he's not at work, he loves spending time outdoors hunting and fishing with his grandkids.