When Things Go Wrong

Photo courtesy of Celestine Chua

Photo courtesy of Celestine Chua

I like to read through the four Gospels. A pastor friend of mine challenged me to do that every so often, but not with the goal of simply reading through them. Instead, the specific purpose is to watch how Jesus acted. How did he treat people? How did he respond? In what ways did he live his life differently from mine? Those are good questions to ask anyway, and they are especially highlighted when we read through the Gospels. 

One verse that jumped out at me some time ago was in John 9. In verse 3, Jesus says, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause–effect here. Look instead for what God can do.” In context, he and his disciples had just happened on a man born blind. His disciples asked him who had sinned, this man or his parents. Jesus wisely told them they were asking the wrong question.

Things Go Wrong in the Tech Booth

We all know that people make mistakes. Cues will be missed, the wrong slide will be shown, lights will be up when they should be off. It’s going to happen. So the question is, how do we respond when things go wrong? Few things so define us as technical leaders.

I have known a few people that get so mad when things go wrong that they literally throw things across the booth. I’m not sure that’s the best response. Others don’t do anything, and the mistakes keep piling up. I’m not sure that’s the best response either. 

Be Loving, Be Direct, Find Solutions

I’ve not always done a good job at this, but one thing I’ve learned over the years is that when a mistake is made, the best response is to lovingly and directly confront the issue and find a solution. The first priority is care about the people we work with, be they staff or volunteers. If we want to build teams that will do great work with great joy, they have to know we care about them as people more than as doers of tasks. 

Second, we have to confront the situation directly. Don’t beat around the bush. Chances are, they already know they made a mistake. Unless it completely derailed the service, don’t make a huge deal about it. They know they messed up and probably feel bad already. Talk about what happened and work toward a solution. 

When confronting a problem, I would always ask if they knew about the mistake, and when they said they did, I asked how we could keep that from happening again. Sometimes, it was more training, sometimes, there was a systemic problem that needed to be addressed. Whatever it is, don’t look for someone to blame, look for a solution. 

God Works in Spite of Our Mistakes

Believe it or not, God can save people even if we hit a wrong light cue. People find forgiveness if the mix isn’t perfect. Our congregation can still worship if the slides aren’t just right. Remember God is still God and it’s still His church. I’m not saying we should tolerate consistently sloppy performance; but a mistake isn’t the end of the world. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it is. 

It’s a fine line we walk here. We have to continually challenge our team to higher levels of excellence, yet offer grace when they fall. When I look at Jesus’ life, I see him being incredibly graceful in the face of major fails, but he also holds us to a high standard. If we want to be better TDs, this is something we need to get right.

Roland

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