I messed up. I owe you an explanation.


These are the first eight words of an email I received on Monday. I have to be honest, even in all the emails that I get as a church leader, I have never received that one, ever. The only thing more surprising than seeing it was the fact that it was from Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO of Netflix.


Like 25 million others, I received this message in my inbox first thing Monday morning. Because of the sheer volume of emails I receive my subconscious intention was to briefly scan the message while my finger moved towards the delete button, giving it about two and a half seconds of divided attention. But eight words in, my finger that was moving toward the delete button suddenly stopped. I later found out (apparently I am out of the loop) that Netflix had raised it’s prices and the DVD’s we never watch anyway are now no longer part of our package at all, tragic. This change caused over a million of their customers to jump ship and cancel their accounts. A minor change to me, but one that caused major discontent for at least a million customers.


There was an instant leadership learning in this for me, which caused me to ask some questions of myself that I think would be valuable for any leader to ask and reflect upon…

  • When was the last time I said or wrote those words, “I messed up. I owe you an explanation”?
  • Who are the people in my life teetering, that could be served well by hearing those words from me?
  • What conflicts have I had recently that may have caused more damage than I originally thought?

I am too often busy convincing myself that to climb off my leadership soapbox to have the “I messed up” talk with someone would just kill momentum, divert my attention or humble me in ways I am not ready to face. But Jesus seemed to have a real affection for those who were humble, so it seems to me that coupling this character trait to every leader is a big deal to Jesus. A big enough deal that with a huge crowd listening in, he shared these words with his twelve highest level leaders:

Jesus said,

God blesses the humble, for they will inherit the whole earth. -Matthew 5:5


“I messed up. I owe you an explanation.” A simple message shared with me through a mass email regarding a service I don’t even care enough about to read my statement each month. And through a message of this sort, an impact was made on me by a business leader.  -a business leader I will likely never meet, about something as unimportant as DVD delivery; how much more impact could that sort of message have THIS WEEK in the life of a person with whom you lead?


Want to read more of Stu’s regular leadership blogs called Leading Thoughts? Click here: http://www.discipleschurch.net/info/leading-thoughts/