Oh No, I Messed Up! What Now?
It happens to everyone. If it hasn’t happened to you yet, or recently, it will. No one is exempt.
I was recently playing electric guitar for a local church Worship Team and I totally messed up. We were playing a song that I had played a dozen times, and I landed on the completely wrong note of the signature electric guitar part. It was noticeable to anyone with ears. That note wasn’t even pretending to be in the key. It was bad.
I messed up! What do I do now?
Obviously the most important thing to do is keep playing. Do your best. Try to shake it off. Keep your head up, keep calm, and finish strong. It can be hard to recover from such an obvious mistake, and I will admit that I played much more conservatively after letting that heinous note soar through the auditorium. I second-guessed myself from that point on and made a few additional (but less noticeable) mistakes as I attempted to finish strong.
I hate messing up. We all do. But here are some helpful tips for what to do after the inevitable takes place…
Take responsibility. Do not try to blame your mistake on someone else. Do not try to come up with excuses to “save face”. Not only is that approach dishonest and unloving, but you will not actually grow by using that method. In order to grow and get better, accept that you messed up.
Keep your head up. I know for me, personally, it is really easy to hang my head when I mess up. Part of that is probably shame. Part of it is pride. I hold myself to a high standard and I really do not like failing to meet that standard. But the reality is that sometimes I don’t meet my own standard. It’s okay. Mistakes do not have to define who we are.
Sure, there will be those voices out there who are all-too-willing to remind you of your mess-ups (sometimes that voice is our own), but we have to choose to listen to the voice of God, who constantly reminds us that our identity is not in what we can do but in what He has already done! Jesus died for us. The Father adopted us. The Holy Spirit is leading us. No silly little mistake will change that.
Get better. One of the fringe benefits of making a mistake is that it often helps to illuminate a weak spot. Maybe I didn’t spend enough time practicing. Maybe I got distracted. Maybe there is a real, tangible reason why I made the mistake that I did. Keep in mind that I am not talking about making excuses, but I am talking about understanding what led to the mistake so that I don’t repeat it in the future.
Extend grace to others. A second, powerful fringe benefit of making a mistake is that it should make you quicker to extend grace to others when they mess up. We all make mistakes. No one is exempt. This time it was me. Next time it may be someone else. Hopefully I will be as quick to show grace to others as I would want them to show grace to me.