When It’s Right to Be Wrong – Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

When It’s Right to Be Wrong – Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast


If you’re passionate as a leader and I’m guessing that you are, you likely make bold promises and hold very strong assumptions but some of our early promises and strongest assumptions are likely to change as our perspective changes. In this month’s episode we’re gonna talk about when it’s right to be wrong. This is the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. I am excited to have you back for another episode of the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast where we are very passionate about building great leaders because we know that when the leader gets better, everyone gets better. If it’s your first time to listen or to watch let me tell you that we release a brand new episode on the first Thursday of every month. One of my favorite things is to you see sharing on social media. In fact, I’ve seen a lot of you that you meet with other people in groups and I just wanna say thank you so much for sharing. If you do, go ahead and tag me or use the hashtag leadershippodcast so we’ll see it. We might even share what you’re sharing and if you’d like the Leader’s Guide, if you’re going over this with people on your team, you can go to life.church/leadershippodcast and we’ll send you the monthly show notes along with discussion questions you can go over with your team. Also if this is helpful to you, if you wouldn’t mind writing a review or rating the content wherever you consume the content that will help give it exposure and we’ll be able to impact more leaders together. Let’s dive into new content today. If you research the phrase promises in leadership anywhere online, virtually everything that’s written about promises and leadership talks about the value of keeping your promises. And rightly so because a leader you can’t trust is a leader that people won’t follow. I agree wholeheartedly that we should work to keep our word. Keep your world, follow through and do what you say you’re gonna do, be consistent in how you lead, lead with integrity, these are core and essential principles that any good leader should adopt and live out but if you’re going to lead a growing organization, I can almost promise you that there’ll be times when you need to break some of the promises that you’ve already made. And that’s why the title of this episode is When It’s Right to Be Wrong. I wanna encourage you to listen to this episode as a leader but also broaden how you listen. You might also apply some of what we talk about to your parenting, to your marriage, to the way you influence friends, to the way that you manage your money. Let’s talk about it and dive in. When you start an organization or when you start into a new job, when you launch a ministry, when you get married, when you become a first time parent you’re likely to lead or to attack whatever you’re doing with some kind of a missional passion. You’re righting some wrong, you’re seizing some opportunity, you’re solving some problem. Your greatest strength is that you’re a leader passionately pursuing an opportunity, a calling, a dream or a mission. And because you’re starting something new, your passion is high but your experience in this area is often really low. The problem is, you don’t know what you don’t know. Because you’re naively passionate you tend to think and speak in absolutes and that’s not a bad thing. That’s how you attract people. That’s why people leave where they are, they take risks to join your startup tech company or your ministry or whatever because you make bold promises about where you’re going. In fact, some of the strongest unifying rally statements often start with three words. What are the three words? We will never. Or, we will always. You’ve probably heard some promises like this, you’ve made some promises like this. We will never do what those other greedy companies do. We’re gonna have a richer mission. Or we will always treat everybody on the team like family. Or we’ll never be like those big megachurches or we’ll always treat our customers as more important than profit, whatever it might be. This isn’t an inherently bad strategy, what are you doing? You’re rightly forming your organization around deep values and this is smart and wise, why? Because the strongest force that shapes your organization is your values. What you value determines what you do, what you value determines what you don’t do and the deepest values are born from the broadest extremes. Our values are typically born out of what we love or the other extreme, it’s born out of what we hate. What we love often determines what we do, what we hate might determine what we don’t do. So, in your naive passion, early in your career or in your leadership, or in your parenting, you often put a stake in the ground. And you boldly promise either publicly, or you make some bold promises privately. As long as I’m a leader here, we will never sell that type of a product. Or, as long as I’m in charge, we’ll always offer this benefit to everyone. Or as long as I have a voice we will never close this department, we’ll never shut down that ministry, we’ll never stop doing that program, we’ll never discipline our kids that way. Whatever it is, for the rest of my career I promise we’ll always do blank or for as long as I’m here I promise we’ll never do blank. These bold, definitive statements. These bold, definitive, apparently irreversible declarations are born out of deep values, sincere passion and a missional mindset. And they are incredibly helpful, valuable and productive until they’re not. If you’re not careful, your early declarations will become your future limitations. Let me say it again, if you’re not careful those early bold promises will end up holding you back in the future. Those early promises, they can be really, really helpful at the time but they can become the biggest lid to your future potential and let me explain and unpack it a little bit. The problem with the promises that you made early is that they’re a reflection of your values then. Without understanding how your values should be lived out when your world changes, grows and evolves. For example, let me tell you some things that will change over time about any organization you’re a part of, your parenting, your marriage or whatever. The market’s gonna change. Your competition’s going to change, the laws will change. Technology will change, your mindset will change, your income will change, your opportunities will change. The threats that face you or your organization will change. Who you have on the team will change. What you have access to will change. What you don’t have access to will change. What you need to function from day to day will change. More than anything else over time your perspective will change. Over time you will change. One day you’re gonna wake up and realize some of the things that we saw the bigger companies do that didn’t make a lot of sense when we were smaller start to make a little more sense now that we’re growing. Some of the things that you didn’t like about the bigger ministries that you criticized might make a little more sense when you go from having one service on Sunday morning to having five services all day long Sunday. That’s why as a leader I try to work really, really hard to be a student not a critic. Be a student not a critic, I don’t wanna tear down what I don’t wanna understand. I wanna learn from those who do things and think a little bit differently than I do. Now, let me be honest, because I’m competitive I’m naturally a little bit more critical. I’m tempted to compare often with a critical bend and some of you can relate. I try to remember this principle. That you tend to criticize the most what you understand the least. Wherever you find yourself most critical about some other organization, recognize that may be the place where you’re most vulnerable because you really don’t have the context or the perspective to understand the why behind what they’re actually doing and here’s what you have to realize. If you’re always bull-headed, your early personal promises will limit your future organizational potential. It’s so important. Your perspective, it must grow and as it does, as it grows and broadens there might be a few things that you promised that you would never, ever do that it actually becomes wise for you to start doing. And the opposite is true as well. There’s some things you promised that you’d always do no matter what as long as we’re here that don’t make as much sense over time and that’s when it’s right to be wrong. Let me tell you what we’re gonna do in the rest of this episode. I wanna give you a few examples of where I had to change philosophies in my own leadership. Then I’ll briefly talk about how to lead out of an early promise into a stronger future. Then, I’ll give you some application questions to help you identify where your mindset might be holding you back. Let me start with some of the early promises that I made either publicly or privately and let me just be honest, some of these are really, really stupid but I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I promised and just put a stake in the ground that as long as I’m healthy I will always mow my own yard. And over time, I learned to realize that that’s not always the best use of my time. I promised that I will always meet with everyone who asks for a meeting. That was born out of a very pure heart but a very limited perspective over time. I promised that our church would never do more than four services on the weekend. Well now we do over 200 because I had no idea at the time I made that promise that multiple sites and video teachings was even a possibility. My perspective again was very limited. I promised early on I’ll never be away from my family for more than one night a month. Now I think my family kind of enjoys sometimes when I’m gone more than one night a month. I promised I would never need more than one assistant, who in the world would ever need that? I promised that I would always do weddings, always do weddings, I never realized I’d be working Saturday and Sunday and if I did weddings I wouldn’t have a marriage or couldn’t be a good dad. I always promised no matter what I would buy the cheapest airline ticket even if I had to fly way out of the way to get somewhere, that money is the most important thing, saving it and my perspective was very limited. I promised that we would never close one of our campuses. That would be like abandoning a child. Over time I realized that if we didn’t close one then we probably couldn’t start the next five I had to unmake that promise. Just for fun, I promised that I would never bribe one of my kids throwing a fit in the grocery store and then I had a kid throwing a fit in the grocery store. I’m like I’ll buy you whatever. You want a pony, we’ll get a pony, just stop throwing a fit. I didn’t have the full perspective. I’ll tell you one of the biggest organizational promises that we got right at first but recognized this promise wasn’t right forever. I’ve always had a big belief that growing organizations can be distracted by opportunity. Just because we can do something doesn’t mean that we should do something. In fact, I’m a pastor and so I am a student of what happens in churches. It’s my theory that most churches do too many things, too many programs, too many ministries, too many different activities and most churches in my opinion don’t need to do more, they need to do less, better, to make a bigger difference. So we were a church that we were pioneering the multi-site movement. We didn’t have models to learn from, we were going from one site to multiple sites without anyone to study and so we were kind of making up the rules as we went. We had a theory that rather than doing too much we would limit what we did to the things that had the highest spiritual return based on the investment and we would not do anything that wasn’t reproducible at another sized location. For example, if something worked well at a 3000 person church but not at a 300 person church, we weren’t gonna do it or vice versa. We came up with five things that we would do as a church and only five things and we talked about this and we lived it. All we did were weekend worship services, kids ministry, student ministry, small groups and missions, five things and only five things. For those of you that know anything about the church world you might say what about men’s ministry? No, women’s, no. Conferences, no. Marriage retreats, no. Christmas pageants with camels coming out on stage, no. Sunday School, sports team, youth camps where the kids would play truth or dare and make out on the way to camp whatever, no no no and no. We only did five things and our plan worked. It was amazing, we were focused and we had a very high return based on our investment of lives that were changed. Our strategy was completely right for then but it was not right always. Here’s what we found over time. There were certain things that we did in the early years at a smaller church that helped it to grow to a bigger one that we were not letting that smaller church do. There were certain things we did at bigger locations that really had high impact and made a difference that we couldn’t do at smaller locations that we were not letting the bigger locations do this. So, after years of boldly declaring we only do five things. I talked about this at conferences, we wrote articles about it, we boldly said this is all we’re gonna do, we realized that it was now right to be wrong. What do you do when you realize you need to change directions and you’ve made really bold promises? How do you make a change? You feel like you’re gonna be backing off of your word. You may feel like you’re gonna lack integrity. Let me give you two very plain suggestions. The first thing is something you do for always. Number one you wanna create a culture that embraces change. What you want people to understand is what we say, we’re gonna speak boldly because that’s who we are. We’re bold leaders but this is true to what we know and where we are now. In fact, I always joke around with our team in what I say. What I’m saying to you is true but it has a 60 day expiration date. In other words it’s true now, but we may change directions later on. You may say that’s schizophrenic leadership, I’m not talking about we’re going this way on Monday, a different way on Tuesday. What I’m talking about is this. That you can recognize, we can passionately believe something today and give ourselves permission to change our mindset when the world changes around us or our perspective changes. That’s why we try to train our teams that the only thing that is constant is change. Let me say it again. Teams embrace this. The only constant is change. Things are going to become different and honestly, I do not worry when we’re changing. When do I worry? When we’re not changing. Number one, create a culture that embraces change. Number two, talk openly about what promise you need to unmake and clearly explain why. Let me say it again. Talk openly about what promise you need to unmake and clearly explain why. Now, notice I didn’t say what promise you need to break but I said what promise you need to unmake and you might say okay Craig, that’s a play on words, maybe it is, fair enough. But here’s why I like this. What we’re doing is saying we actually kept our promise. We made a promise and for all these years we did exactly what we said we were gonna do. But now we know more, our perspectives have changed, our opportunities have changed, the threats that are facing our organization, they’ve changed so we’re changing our philosophy and then we explain why. The why is so important, the why empowers people to believe in the what. Tell them why, tell them why, tell them why, tell them why. Now when you do this leader, when you do this, pastor. When you do this, mom and you’re gonna tell your kids or your organization we’re making a change here’s what’s gonna happen. You’re gonna be scared to death because sometimes it’s gonna be difficult. It’s gonna take real leadership to change the direction, the trajectory or the culture of your organization but let me give you some good news. Many times and I may say even most of the time, the people around you, when you recognize something needs to change and you lead toward it, a lot of times they’re gonna say what took you so long. So often, we as the leaders, because of our fear to change directions, we often don’t recognize our whole organization already realizes that we’ve been living on an old promise that isn’t as relevant today and they recognize often because we do, things really do need to change. Sometimes it’s right to be wrong. So, how do you apply this in your leadership and in your organization toady? And again think about this both organizationally and think about it personally. Think about it in your leadership but think about how it applies in your home, your marriage, in your friendships and such. Application questions, here they are. Based on what you’re currently learning and experiencing, what do you not do that you probably should? What did you promise in the past? We’re never gonna do this and you recognize you know what? Now I probably should actually be doing this. Second question, based on what you’re currently learning and experiencing what have you done for years and you thought we will always do this for years, but you should probably stop, undo or change. What have you done consistently for years that you need to stop, undo or change? It might be good to involve other people to help give you objectivity because sometimes you’re too close to it to see. You might have a friend that will tell you you should stop waking up your 19-year-old son every day, doing his laundry, paying his car insurance, his phone bill and his gas money and wondering why he plays video games all day long. Someone else can help you see this. As you answer these questions what should I start doing? What should I stop doing? You might wanna think about these four categories. Maybe there’s something you can delegate. Maybe there’s something you should stop. Maybe there’s something you should start. And maybe there’s someone you could empower. Let me say it again, something you could delegate, stop, start or empower. Based on where you are today, the world has changed since when you started. What do you need to stop doing? What do you need to initiate? Here is a promise and I will not break or unmake this promise. If you’re not changing how you think, how you lead, what you do and what you don’t do, your past assumptions will limit your future potential. One more time, I want it to sink in. If you’re not changing how you think, how you lead, what you do, and what you don’t do, your past assumptions will limit your future potential. I wanna say a big thank you to all of you for being a part of our leadership community. Thank you for sharing on social media, again I love seeing when you get together with your teams. Consider going over this with family, with people from small groups, with other people that you work with. If you don’t mind writing a review or rating it, that helps give it exposure. As always, I’d love to encourage you. We feel pressure as leaders. We wanna know it all, get it all right and you don’t have to know it all. You don’t have to get it all right. What do you need to do? Just be yourself, bring your A game because people would rather follow a leader who’s always real than one who’s always right. Thank you for joining us at the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast. If you wanna go even deeper into this episode and get the Leadership Guide or show notes you can go to life.church/leadershippodcast. You can also sign up to have that information delivered straight to your inbox every month. In the meantime you can subscribe to this podcast, rate and review it on iTunes and share with your friends on social media. Once again, thank you for joining us at the Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast.

16 thoughts on “When It’s Right to Be Wrong – Craig Groeschel Leadership Podcast

  1. Craig thank you for all of your videos. I love these leadership videos and have learned so much from them. Keep em coming! God Bless you brother!

  2. Jesus Christ says "you have heard that it was said to the ancients, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I tell you NOT TO SWEAR AT ALL: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is His footstool" Matthew 5:33-35 (I'll never)

    How about just doing what Jesus says to His church- "I will build MY church" Matthew 16:18

  3. Bob Wageneck
    This was a good synopsis of a very important concept. Thank you. From my fairly long experience in life (and business and church) I have found that there are certain principles which are fundamentally immutable, but other goals/visions which are continually changing. How to make sure you know the difference and only make changes where change should be make is the challenge. You have laid out a good set of guidelines to do this.

  4. Very Good! Many times parents don’t realize how much we have to change promises that we made as not parents. I was an excellent mom before I became one. Always said that my children would not eat junk food. However, my youngest has a feeding problem, so I am still adapting and changing my perspective to get her to eat. And, what is even more amazing is that things you struggle to change is exactly where God wants you to change and use you. Because of her problem, I opened a developmental center in Brazil and in a month I am bringing my speech and feeding therapist from US to train my team in Brazil and give a public speech explaining why many children struggle with feeding. Love your insights, I have been learning a lot with you. Thank you so much.

  5. Craig, I saw you at the LC19 in London. Great content. You are making a difference in my life and that of my family. Thanks.

  6. The part about how our promises reflect our values and perspective at that time really hit home for me…
    My channel has adapted its vision and mission as I've gotten to learn more about myself, my followers, and direction that God is leading me.

  7. wow i just watch your sermons sometimes but wow.. this really made me stop and think about my daily life… more people should hear this

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