The Importance of Being Wrong

I listened to a TED talk this week on being wrong. It’s a seventeen minute talk on how being wrong inevitably propels us forward. It’s not going to change your life, but she has some good points. If you want to watch, you can find it here

In her talk, she explains how our systems and structures fight against our desire to be wrong on an identity level. We make connections between mistakes and personal value. Ultimately, we are taught to think getting something wrong means there is something wrong with us. As a Christian, I hope even in my mistakes my identity is still found in Christ - but that’s a lesson I’m still learning. Our systems and structures that link situational wrongness with identity often stop us from taking the risk of being wrong, or at least admitting it, all together. 

Her talk also got me thinking about why we put ourselves in the position to be wrong in the first place. One of the reasons we are wrong is because we strive to understand, to explore, and to make things better. All of those pursuits require risk. We have to step into the often scary space of unknown - recognizing we don’t have all the answers - but hopefully finding the answers is worth the risk of being mistaken. 
So let’s run this out logically:

  • Being wrong is a result of risk
  • We risk in order to find out more about life and God as we try and answer questions we don’t know the answers to yet
  • When we make mistakes because we risk, we find new ways forward

I want to take a bigger picture view of mistakes. I want to be ok with mistakes because I know they aren’t my identity, they aren’t the end, but they play a part in helping me grow and make sense of life and God. 

This Sunday we are talking about the nature of Jesus, and much of our discussion will center around questions that don’t have clear cut answers. There is potential for us to be wrong - and I think that’s ok. It shouldn’t stop us from asking, from risking, and from exploring God. Because even when we are wrong, we are growing. It doesn’t mean our goal is to make mistakes or be wrong, not at all, it simply means we learn to see mistakes as a part of the bigger picture of growth. 

One thing I know I’m right about - I’ve been wrong before; I will be wrong again; and God has enough grace to cover it all. My hope is we extend that same grace, the grace we so often need yet are hesitant to acknowledge, to others.

- Charlie