When is the last time you acted on a dream that could fail?
Six months ago, I made the switch from professional volunteer to paid church employee. Along with my bank account, something else changed too: my appetite for change. With the weight of now being paid for my position, I had lost some of my hunger for being an agent of change at our church.
Intuitively, I knew I had ideas that were worth discussing. I knew it would be beneficial to apply my fresh eyes to the established ministry program. And yet I hesitated to share too much or dream too big. What if it doesn't work? What if people don't like my ideas? What if the leadership above me second-guesses hiring me? What if I'm naive? What if the students don't like it? What if it fails?
My new coworker and I would talk about doing things differently, but fear would inevitably creep in, sliding under the door like smoke and mingling into our creative ideas and dreams. Eventually, we realized that our fear of failing was outweighing our heart and our desire to work hard in the quest to creatively reach others for Christ.
One afternoon, in a fit of frustration, I scrawled a mantra onto our shared office wall in black marker. (Did I mention we work in student ministry? Black marker works.) Five simple words defined our ministry plans for the rest of the year: So what if it fails?
Most churches are pretty skittish about change. When I hear about battles being fought over music styles and Bible study schedules and building usage, I wonder if Jesus shakes his head in disgust. Jesus told his disciples that the fields are "ripe for the harvest." I believe that's still true today, but maybe we are missing opportunities, staying enslaved to the status quo.
"So what if it fails" might be the best perspective to take if we are serious about leveraging our influence as leaders.
When you consider your area of ministry, what have you been yearning to try but you don't because you are worried it will fail? What events and programs do you continue, even though you know in your heart they aren't serving their purpose or accomplishing their mission? What technology do you avoid because you feel too old? What learning do you circumvent because you feel rusty?
If you don't have anything on the horizon that might fail, then you are failing as a leader. If you aren't pushing for innovation and creativity, then you are guaranteed to keep attracting the very same people as last year. But if you are serious about reaching others for Christ, about pushing boundaries, about reaching the next generation with the love and freedom of Christ's way, chances are, you are going to have to try something that just might fail.
So listen to the leanings of your heart. If you run a women's ministry, evaluate your programming. Have you yearned for a way to connect women into the community or serve single moms? So what if it fails.
Do you wish to add creative elements or a new speaker or maybe even try and teach a Bible study yourself this year? So what if it fails.
Do you want to try a new class, run a marathon, or raise money for a cause close to your heart? So what if it fails.
Do you avoid certain people in the church because they're too hard to deal with, keep your mouth shut instead of raising a ministry concern, or keep your ideas to yourself because you don't want to get into something too big? Do something. Say something. Start something. So what if it fails.
And surprise–it just might work.