Embrace Your Mistakes

Embrace Your Mistakes

                         Chris & Karen Highland @ Flickr.com

Have you ever made a mistake? I know, me neither. Hahahahaha. In fact, I’m pretty sure my kids are signing a book deal right now (multiple volumes) of all the mothering blunders I’ve ever made. And there are plenty. Should be a best seller.
But how do you handle a public mistake? Well, if you're anything like Rev. Karen Shimer of Canby United Methodist Church – you go with it. This past Easter season, Karen sent out an “ask” letter to her congregation to support its “Shared Ministries” (aka “apportionments” - funds that go to support mission and ministry at the Conference and the National UMC levels).
The letter was a winner for several of reasons:

Win #1: She wrote an “ask” letter. She didn’t assume that people were tired of giving.
Win #2: She used beautiful linen paper. It was classy and made it feel important.

Win #3: She highlighted (in bold) important lines  – just in case people wanted to skim it.
Win #4: She used a couple of color photographs to make the letter visually “pop.”
Check out her letter right here.
There was something else in that letter that gave Karen an opportunity.
There was a mistake.
I’ll let her tell you what happened through the email she sent to her congregation two days after she sent the original letter:
What do you get when the pastor (who usually works with Apple computers) tries her hand at Mail Merge in Microsoft Excel on a PC?
An Easter Letter Word Hunt!
By now you have probably received the Easter Letter. The office was a busy place on Tuesday, so I got to try to add the Salutations to the letters before they were printed. When I thought everything was set up and printing started, the personalized Salutation - “Dear Your Name” did not appear. Rather than wrestle with it anymore, the salutation was added by hand and the letters were mailed Tuesday evening.
I took one home to show my husband and he found the stray salutation in the middle of the letter! I understood my error, but it was too late to correct. So now we have the Easter Letter Word Hunt.
When you read your Easter letter you should find a salutation hiding in the body of your letter. I invite you to take action in two ways: Pray for the person named and tell me via text, email or in person that you found the salutation hiding in your letter.
I will give $5 toward apportionments for the first 20 people who locate the hidden salutation and let me know by Easter.
This is just another reason why we call Canby UMC “The Whole Life Learning Place.”
What fun to be in ministry!
Pastor Karen
And can you guess what happened? People read or re-read the letter to find the error (see if you can spot it!).
Best of all, Win #5: The Canby Easter offering was $3,185. Compare that to last year’s offering of just around $700. Wow. More funds to mission and ministry all because Karen decided to make lemonade out of lemons.
Once she saw the error, Karen could have been wringing her hands and beating herself up. But, as she said, “It only took about three minutes to turn what felt like a disaster into a game.”  That’s being positive. That’s being creative. That’s being awesome.
Clearly, not all errors can be corrected so easily. But oftentimes they can be fixed – with the right mindset and attitude. So go forth this day and embrace your mistakes. Bring on the lemonade!
Cesie Delve Scheuermann (pronounced “CC Delv Sherman,” yes, really) is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past fifteen years, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over three million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She has red this ever and over – spellcheck says its perfect. She was the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. She is available to consult with churches. You can reach her at inspiringgenerosity@gmail.com or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/inspiringgenerosity.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.