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Axiom – Call a Fumble a Fumble

Some years ago, I read a book by Bill Hybels in which he speaks to leaders about those decision-making tools that are woven into your psyche so completely that you do not have to think about some things. Those decisions are already made. He said in this book that these tools are axioms and it does you well occasionally to try to put them into words to remind yourself why you do what you do. One of my favorite examples of the fifty or so he wrote about is that you “have to call a foul occasionally.” In other words, if someone gets out of line, it is the role of the leader to gracefully call him down.

In recent days, I have become aware that I have an axiom of my own that is similar and seems to work for me. My axiom is that you “have to call a fumble, a fumble.” In other words, when you or someone else does something wrong, sinful, or foolish, just gracefully admit it, correct it as much as possible, and move on. In football, you never see a team who fumbles the ball denying it was a fumble, ignoring the ball and hoping it goes away, or point to someone else and say “he caused me to fumble.”  No. What they do is scramble to recover it. In other words, they attempt to correct the mistake.

A few weeks ago, I attempted to help a church I am leading adopt a budget and offered some parliamentary procedure advice that when I got home, I just realized was wrong. Fortunately, at the prompting of the Spirit, I reversed course at the meeting and we didn’t make the mistake. However, the next time we had a business meeting, I had to tell them I was wrong previously so they would not remember that and assume it was okay in the future.

As I lead and consult with churches in crisis, I am becoming more and more aware that one of the hardest jobs for gatekeepers is to call a fumble, a fumble. Everyone in the organization may know that it happened and it did not go well, but we rarely admit and attempt to correct it, especially in churches. We just tend to ignore it and resolve to do better next time. Yet, I am convinced that not calling a fumble, a fumble and letting it sit there for everyone to walk around and wonder about for years to come is the reason many churches never get over difficult times.

What about you? Do you have some axioms you think are worth sharing with others?

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