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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

21 Feb '14

When you need to digest bad news

From time to time, organizational leaders need to face and digest bad news. There is always the temptation to become defensive, to want to minimize what we are hearing or to ignore it altogether. We may feel that we have failed or have not led well. This is precisely when we need some values to fall back on and I often fall back on four specific values that help me hear, digest and deal with bad news.

The first is that "I have nothing to prove and nothing to lose." If that is true, I don't need to prove that I am right, nor do I lose if I am wrong. It is a freeing way to live as I don't need to become defensive, don't need to defend or be right. It is a humble position that allows us to grow.

The second value is "autopsy without blame." I am less concerned with who is responsible for what has happened than I am in understanding what has happened and learning from the situation. In most cases, it is not about blame but about making key observations, understand why something has happened and then figure out a way forward.

The third value I live by when there is bad news can be understood by the phrase, "Do not underestimate my resolve." Once we know that there is something we need to resolve and move toward, we are committed to going there no matter what. It is the commitment to do the right thing even when feels inconvenient.

A fourth truth is that "What got us to here got us to here. It will not get us to there. Organizations must periodically reimagine the future and realize that many of our methodologies, paradigms and strategies need to change to get to the next level of ministry success. Thus in the face of bad news we need open minds as to what is best as we look to the future.

Bad news can actually be good news if we learn from it, grow from it and get better because of it. But, that all depends on our own ability to face it and deal with it in a healthy way.