"I Was Wrong. I Am Sorry."
by Steve Backlund
Why are these words so hard to say? Whether it is a child apologizing to a sibling or an adult expressing apology to a spouse, it seems rare for us to say these things without fighting off some kind of reservation or justification in our minds.
One of the reasons for this difficulty is that we feel if we admit to being wrong, then others will be less likely to admit their wrongs and not take responsibility for them. We tend to avoid responsibility for our actions until other people do so for theirs.
Recently I did not follow through on something I told someone I would do. This person pointed this out to me. My first reaction was to send an apology which included excuse-laden wording like, "I have been so busy lately, therefore I forgot." Basically, I wanted to say, "You cannot expect me to be responsible because I am a victim of my busyness." As I thought about it more, I once again realized that this is the pathway of the mediocre and the unhappy.
So, I sent him an email saying, "I was wrong. I am sorry. Please forgive me." I also expressed that it's one of my core values to follow through on what I say I am going to do, and that I had not done this in the situation with him. He graciously responded and forgave me.
As I thought about this situation in my life, I was reminded of the power of admitting our relational mistakes to those we have hurt, disrespected, or let down. Whatever short-term pain we experience in exercising such humility will be far surpassed by the blessings of being a person of integrity (both by having a clear conscience and by having people view us with greater favor).
Taking responsibility for our hurtful actions toward others will cause people to trust us more because they will unconsciously conclude four things about us:
- We're setting healthy standards of behavior in our lives.
- We're dealing with any victim mindsets.
- We're prioritizing honor in our relationships.
- We're fostering and establishing trust-filled, healthy relationships.
Because of these conclusions, trust toward us will increase. We will be seen more and more to be safe people whom others can connect with. We will be respected as leaders in greater ways.
"I was wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?" Who do you need to say these words to? It may feel difficult and risky to express these thoughts, but I encourage you to do it anyway. It takes a big person to do so.
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ABOUT STEVE BACKLUND
Steve Backlund was a senior pastor for seventeen years before joining the team at Bethel Church in Redding, CA in 2008. Steve is a leader developer, joy activist, a revivalist teacher, and as Senior Associate Director, is a key part of the Global Legacy (a ministry of Bethel Church) leadership team. He travels extensively throughout the world encouraging churches and leaders and has authored a number of books.