Last night was one of those situations that I find myself in more times than I wish to be true. Someone brought something up, and I reacted out of the emotion, not to the content of what they were saying and therein lies the problem. Being sanctified and filled with the Holy Spirit does not make every thought, action or speech of yours perfect. But it does make you perfectly aware that the Holy Spirit of God is the umpire and judge of your life.
There is never a time in my life that I have left a meeting in which I have said you know I indeed should’ve said something at that meeting. Unfortunately, there’s been far too many times when I’ve left a meeting, and on my drive home I have said why did you say that?! Some of this is just the occupational hazard of being a talker. I have been known to give my opinion on subjects whether I had facts and information or not. I am one of those kinds of people that indeed many times do not know what I believe until I hear myself say it, and after having said it on a few occasions, I don’t even think it myself! I had a fitful sleep the night after this meeting because I knew what the Holy Spirit required of me. So early the next morning I wrote an apology to the group, and as soon as it was reasonable in the morning, I called the person and asked for his forgiveness and told him I was sorry. Asking forgiveness and being sorry many times has nothing to do with the content of what one has stated. I still to this moment believe in the material and the essence of what I said in the meeting. The Holy Spirit was not happy with with the spirit and attitude with which I shared my thoughts. Many of us think we only owe an apology when our information was faulty; the Holy Spirit is interested in our attitudes as well. Kingdom relationships are premium. We live in a community, and we’re going to spend all eternity in a community. Therefore we have to begin modeling what a holy community looks like right now! I have often had to cry out to God, please change me and help me not to be in this situation so often. I have on a few occasions had to see someone or call someone and apologize and ask for their forgiveness. Jesus, I don’t like being in this position. But once again here I am, and I need to ask forgiveness.
This whole subject makes most of us quite uncomfortable, because rather than calling ourselves out it’s more fun calling others out. It is easy to make excuses for ourselves and be offended when others do the same thing that we do. We come up with all kinds of reasons such as I was tired, you know I’m German, my dad had a bad temper. Or we say things like if you don’t like me the way I am, then you can leave me alone, or I’m too old to change. Or we say things like you know I was right I may not have said it kindly, but everything I said was right.
Let’s use an illustration from the farm. Pretend that you’re out milking the cow and the cow is giving some of the creamiest milk you have ever seen in your life. I mean in the milk pails of life no one has delivered a better pail of milk then you have helped to provide. The milk is lovely, but then you get up and quite by accident you kick the whole bucket over and all of them milk spells out. It will not be remembered ever that at one time the pail was filled with outstanding dairy, unfortunately, what will be remembered is that you kicked the whole thing over. That’s how it is in some of our conversations. The sentence structure and argumentation follows all rules of logic and your argument was articulately presented. The logic stellar, the words are meaningful. But if your attitude stinks and your demeanor and spirit are nasty, your story, and your argument and your presentation of facts are all but forgotten. What is remembered though is your spirit and attitude.
Leaders, it starts with you, are you willing to admit you were wrong? Are you ready to accept that? There are times when nothing you said was wrong, but as mentioned earlier your spirit and demeanor was not appropriate, kind or Christian. Be the leader God has called you to be and ask for forgiveness and apologize. Many of us are not aware of what an apology is or what asking for forgiveness looks like. I’ve heard many people think they were apologizing while all the time they were justifying why they acted as they did. Stop it! You do not need to defend, yourself. You need to apologize. For whatever the reason then this is not an article on the reason why people do not ask for forgiveness or apologize. The point is if anyone is going to model this it has to be the leader. I realize those of you who are more quiet leaders are farther down the road than some of us more verbal types. But this is not just a personality thing; this is a people thing. All of us have hurt people, and if we live much longer, we will all hurt someone else in the future. We should pray that the Holy Spirit will keep us from harming, likewise, we should also sign our names on the list of people who are willing when convicted by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to go to the person or persons we have offended, apologize and ask their forgiveness. Grace, this should be what the Christian faith looks like in the real world. Not people pretending to be loving and kind, but people who go back and seek to make amends and make sure that relationships are not fractured.