How Mistakes Can Become Opportunities

From time to time I repost an article I’ve written some time ago. This post was written in December 2012. Enjoy

Sometimes mistakes can turn into opportunities.  A week ago, a man came into the church and asked if I could help him with some grocery money.  This is not an unusual occurrence – on a weekly basis, people make the same or similar requests.

I can think of one guy who has come in enough over the years that we’re on a first name basis.  One time he asked for grocery money or vouchers, and when I didn’t have any, he asked for a computer.  When I told him I didn’t have a computer to give him, he asked for a guitar.

I actually did have a guitar I could give him!  I had just bought a new one and my old guitar was taking up space at home.  When I gave him the guitar, he right away thanked me, and then, with hardly taking a breath, asked me if I had a case for it!

A couple of days later, I saw him walking downtown on the main street, with my old guitar in his hand (no case).  But about a week after that, he came to me again and asked if I had another guitar, because the one I gave him was stolen.  I had to break the news to him that I had run out of old guitars.

He accepted the news quite well.  I say that because some people don’t take a negative answer very well.  Sometimes they get upset, so I’m careful not to promise what I can’t deliver.

That’s how I made my mistake a week ago.  There was something about this man who had asked me for grocery money.  As I listened to him briefly tell me his situation, something about his story seemed to stick with me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything to give him at the time.

I told him to come back the next day and I’d have a grocery store gift card for him.  That was all fine, except I forgot to purchase the gift card.  So, when the appointed time came, I still had nothing for him.

I quickly looked around to see, if by chance, there was a card we could give him . . .  nothing.  Then my associate, offered to go and purchase a gift card while the man waited at the church with me.  It seemed like our only solution, so of he went.

I decided to use the time to get to know this man a little bit.  We had a conversation about his life, what had gone wrong, and his plan to get back on track.

Then I just started sharing about how God loved him and wanted to help him in his life.  I explained to him who Jesus was, what He came to do, and what He has offered us.  By the time my associate came back with the gift card, we were talking about how he could have a relationship with Jesus.

In the end, I prayed with him, gave him a Bible and the grocery gift card.  He left satisfied on a couple of levels.

Here’s the thing:  If I had not forgotten to get that gift card, I would have had a brief conversation with that man and sent him on his way.  But my mistake led to an opportunity to share Christ’s love with a man who really needed it right then.  I need to remember to always look for opportunities … even in mistakes.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question:  What mistakes have you made that turned into opportunities for you?  Leave your comment below.

How To Prevent Making Multiple Mistakes

From time to time I repost an article I have written in the past. This one is from May 2014. With all the wet weather we’ve been having, I haven’t been out to the trails on my bike. I’m kind of itching to get out there. This post got me thinking of biking. 

Have you ever made a mistake that led to another mistake that led to, well, a complete breakdown? I had that experience last week.

Lily had gone to Ottawa for the day taking my car, the one with the bike rack. I wanted to go for a bike ride at the end of my day so I had to put my bike in the trunk of the other car.

That’s normally not a problem; you just take the front wheel off the bike and slide the bike in.  For some reason, this time it was a problem.

I spent about a half hour trying to get my wheel off, and in the process I lost two ball bearings from the axle assembly and never actually got the wheel off the bike.

It was a brutal failure; I couldn’t believe it. I’ve taken the front wheel off bikes dozens of times. But my new bike is a little different. No, it’s a lot different.

I would describe the differences but I would either hypnotize you in the process or put you to sleep – probably sleep would come first. Then you’d wake up and have an urge to bark at every bike you saw after that.

Taking the wheel off a bike with quick release should take about 30 seconds, at the most. I spent 30 minutes and never got it off. I could have used better lighting, but still.

I looked for videos on the internet to show me what to do. I examined the part and used an allen key/wrench to remove a part I should never have touched.

All the while, my neighbour, who works at the bike shop I go to, was right outside my garage cutting his grass. Did I ask him for help? Of course not; why would I do that? No, what I did was I took the axle apart and lost two very tiny ball bearings on my garage floor!

I never did go for that bike ride. Later that night I realized what I had done wrong. It should have taken me 15 seconds to get the wheel off, but it was too late now; I’d gone and lost some pieces.

So, here were my mistakes, if you’re counting . . .

I should have had better lighting and, along with that, I should have put on my reading glasses to get a better look at what I was doing.

I should have asked my neighbour for help. That was the dumbest thing I didn’t do. And I shouldn’t have taken apart the axle, especially standing in a garage.

I’ll tell you how the story turned out in my next blog.

Here’s the thing:  It is easy to make a mistake, but the smart thing is to correct that mistake before one mistake leads to another. The best thing we can do is look for someone who can help us. I know God is willing to help but He’s waiting to be invited. I also find that I will sometimes make more than one mistake before I ask Him for that help. So it’s what I don’t do that keeps me making mistakes . . . Seek God’s help first.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What do you do to keep from making multiple mistakes? I’d love to hear from you. Leave your comment below.

Mistake After Mistake

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a new project Lily and I are working on at our house. We’re putting new closet doors in our bedroom. (You can read that blog here.)

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At that time, it was mostly an idea to follow through on. I had taken the old closet doors off, and since then ordered new doors and begun the work of widening the closet opening.

It was going pretty well … up until last Saturday.

Our new sliding doors arrived and all I needed to do was set the door jams in the frame to make the finished opening the right size.

… It sounds pretty simple, but this is the very reason why I would never make it as a carpenter.  You see, I’m just not that good at getting things level and square and … precise.

I’m more of a rough estimate kind of guy. I also am much better at demolition than I am at construction. I had no problem taking off the drywall (though Lily didn’t like the mess), and I was pretty good and creative at removing a couple of 2×4 studs on either side of the opening.

That part went so smoothly, I even thought I kind of liked doing this project …

… until I remembered my mother’s words to me and my brother when we were young and had just broken another one of her Hummel figurines: “You two should go into the demolition business when you get older because you’re really good at it.”

… until Saturday. That’s the day I needed to put the door jams in. All that required of me was to make sure my opening was large enough, nail three pieces of wood together (two sides and a top piece), and shim it in level and square.

That’s it. It sounds so simple but it took so long! I had to call in the cavalry (my son, Mike), and even between the two of us, we worked all afternoon on it.

When it was done, the sides were pretty level and square, but the joint at one of the corners was splitting. I didn’t care at that point. I figured we could cover that up some how.

So we put up the tracks for the doors to hang on. That part was easy. But when we went to hang the door panels, we realized I had not calculated enough for the height of the doors.

They rubbed on the carpet so that it took a little effort to slide them back and forth.

I was pretty discouraged and didn’t know what to do. I really didn’t want to take that jam out after spend a whole day putting it in.

But by the next morning, I realized I needed to do it. So I did what I do best … I demoed the door jams and took out a 2×4 at the top and replaced it with a 1×4.

Now all I have to do is put in the new jam, and shim it level and square. Sounds simple, right?

Oh brother, here we go again!

Here’s the thing: When you make a mistake, the last thing you want to do is correct it. You try to cover it up, make do with it, even blame someone else for it. But the only way to really fix it is to correct the mistake. This applies to sin in your life too. Don’t cover it up; don’t make do with it or blame someone else. Go to God and correct it. Then you can move on.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: How have you dealt with mistakes you’ve made? Leave your comment below.

He Said It Would Save Me Time

Sometimes a phrase or sentence – even a word – can save you a lot of time. Recently, I spent hours doing a mundane little task because I didn’t first receive some crucial information.

I bought a new program that tracks and keeps all the information about my sermons in one place.  But there’s a learning curve. I’m learning how to build scripts, portals, and containers.

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It might sound fun – like I’m working on a time machine – but it’s just a database. When I’m done it will be slick, but I still have lots to figure out. I worked on it pretty much my entire day off this week, and I’ll need to spend several more off hours to get it working right.

When I’m done, it will be awesome … in a nerdy, database kind of way. From just one screen I will be able to plan, research, grab resources, catalogue … and clean up after breakfast! It’s like sitting down to do your taxes and having all the information you need in front of you … and not having to get up to find some receipt, address or your son’s tuition information.

I enjoy figuring out how to use this program but what I don’t like is doing work to correct the mistakes I’ve made. I have been watching instructional videos of a guy explaining different aspects of the program. I have a new appreciation for people who have to listen to me preach every week.

The difference is people listen to me for a half hour or so, once a week. I’ve been listening to this same whiney-voiced guy for about 10 hours straight! You can imagine how annoyed I am with him right now. And when, about 5 hours in, he said that it is better to set up a numbering system BEFORE you enter your data, my mood turned really ugly towards him.

I have been building my database while I’ve been learning. In the process, I have already imported 980 records! These are records of my messages, titles, themes, and passages, dating back to 1997!

But then my friendly little instructor says I need to give a specific or unique number to each record in my database. And in a casual way he says, “You will save a lot of time if you do this before you import your data.”

I felt like reaching into the computer and grabbing him, not to hurt him, just to shake him a little and scream into his ear, “Why didn’t you say that right at the beginning?!” It was just one sentence. He could have said it in the introduction. It would have saved me hours! I had to manually go back into every record and number them. What a waste of time.

It was a long, boring task, and a few times I lost track of the numbers and had to go back and correct the sequence. But now that it’s done, and I’m further into my learning, I see how essential it was for me to make that little correction.

Here’s the thing: Life is just like that. At the beginning, we don’t know everything we need to live a godly life. We learn as we go and often find that we’ve made some mistakes along the way. The sooner we discover those mistakes, the easier it is to correct them. That’s why it’s good to keep short accounts with God.

That’s life!

Paul

Question: What do you wish you had known ten years ago? Leave your comment below.

Mistakes and Opportunities

Sometimes mistakes can turn into opportunities.  A week ago, a man came into the church and asked if I could help him with some grocery money.  This is not an unusual occurrence – on a weekly basis, people make the same or similar requests.

I can think of one guy who has come in enough over the years that we’re on a first name basis.  One time he asked for grocery money or vouchers, and when I didn’t have any, he asked for a computer.  When I told him I didn’t have a computer to give him, he asked for a guitar.

turn-mistakes-into-opportunitiesI actually did have a guitar I could give him!  I had just bought a new one and my old guitar was taking up space at home.  When I gave him the guitar, he right away thanked me, and then, with hardly taking a breath, asked me if I had a case for it!

A couple of days later, I saw him walking downtown on the main street, with my old guitar in his hand (no case).  But about a week after that, he came to me again and asked if I had another guitar, because the one I gave him was stolen.  I had to break the news to him that I had run out of old guitars.

He accepted the news quite well.  I say that because some people don’t take a negative answer very well.  Sometimes they get upset, so I’m careful not to promise what I can’t deliver.

That’s how I made my mistake a week ago.  There was something about this man who had asked me for grocery money.  As I listened to him briefly tell me his situation, something about his story seemed to stick with me.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have anything to give him at the time.

I told him to come back the next day and I’d have a grocery store gift card for him.  That was all fine, except I forgot to purchase the gift card.  So, when the appointed time came, I still had nothing for him.

I quickly looked around to see, if by chance, there was a card we could give him . . .  nothing.  Then Andrew, my associate, offered to go and purchase a gift card while the man waited at the church with me.  It seemed like our only solution, so Andrew left.

I decided to use the time to get to know this man a little bit.  We had a conversation about his life, what had gone wrong, and his plan to get back on track.

Then I just started sharing about how God loved him and wanted to help him in his life.  I explained to him who Jesus was, what He came to do, and what He has offered us.  By the time Andrew came back with the gift card, we were talking about how he could have a relationship with Jesus.

In the end, I prayed with him, gave him a Bible and the grocery gift card.  He left satisfied on a couple of levels.

Here’s the thing:  If I had not forgotten to get that gift card, I would have had a brief conversation with that man and sent him on his way.  But my mistake led to an opportunity to share Christ’s love with a man who really needed it right then.  I need to remember to always look for opportunities … even in mistakes.

Until Next Time!

Pastor Paul

Question:  What mistakes have you made that turned into opportunities for you?  Leave your comment below.