Katie asked me six questions about apologizing. Here’s the outline for the video:
- 0–4:17—Have you always been good at apologizing?
- 4:17–6:54—What are wrong ways to apologize?
- 6:54–13:00—What are right ways to apologize?
- 13:00–19:35—What is your favorite story about apologizing?
- 19:35–24:04—Should we apologize to our kids?
- 24:04–27:39—How can apologizing or lack of apologizing affect marriages?
1. Have you always been good at apologizing? Elaborate on your “history” with apologizing and how you grew in it.
When I saw this question, my first thought was, “If I’ve learned too apologize well, it’s from making so many mistakes.”
As a pastor you’re going to learn to become comfortable apologizing, because it’s a necessity to have a healthy church body. I’d go so far as saying don’t become a pastor if you’re not comfortable apologizing. You’re going to have to apologize for your own actions and the actions of others. Nothing looks worse than shifting blame, even if the blame belongs elsewhere.
As far as when I learned to apologize, I’d have to give credit to LTC Richard Brewer, my commander in Army ROTC. He didn’t teach me to apologize. He forced me to apologize. I couldn’t make excuses or shift blame.
2. What are wrong ways to apologize?
When we should apologize our sinful nature wants to flare up, get angry, make excuses or blame others. Some people – whether intentionally or unintentionally – act like they’re apologizing, but their “apologies” are simply excuses disguised as apologies.
Two words destroy apologies:
- The most obvious is “but”:
- I’m sorry, BUT if they hadn’t done that…
- I am sorry, BUT this happened…
- Oh, I’m sorry, BUT I never would’ve done this if not for…
- Less obvious is the word “you”:
- I’m sorry YOU did this…
- Well, I’m sorry YOU are mad…
- I’m sorry YOU are offended…
The word “you” allows people to subtly shift the blame to the other person. It’s a manipulative way to make the other person feel bad about being hurt or upset.
3. What are right ways to apologize?
We don’t want to let sin and pride have victories in our relationships. We need to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness. There are primarily two steps:
- Begin by saying, “I’m sorry I…” or “I’m sorry for…” followed by the offense.
- Then you have to say, “Will you please forgive me?”
The second step does two things:
- Shows you recognize you’ve done something that requires forgiveness. Demonstrates you’re not minimizing your actions.
- Engages the other person; requires a response.
As a note, if you say, “Yes, I forgive you” you’re obligated to do that! You have to do your best to forget about the offense, not hold it against the person, refuse to bring it up, etc.
4. What is your favorite story about apologizing?
Please watch the video itself for the two stories I shared:
- 13:00–16:15—A man spent lots of tax payers’ money building sidewalks that didn’t the traffic situation. He would’ve been destroyed by reporters in a press conference, but he humbly acknowledged his fault and asked for forgiveness.
- 16:15–19:35—When I taught elementary school my students lost lots of books. The librarian was (understandably) upset with me. I apologized and asked for her forgiveness and our relationship was restored.
5. Should we apologize to our kids?
A good rule for parenting is we should do whatever we want our kids to do. There are exceptions. For example our kids were in bed when we filmed the video, but we don’t have to go to bed at 8PM. For the most part though, we need to model what we want to see from our children. If we want our children to apologize and ask for forgiveness, we need to apologize and ask for forgiveness.
Generally children who accept responsibility for their actions have parents who accept responsibility for their actions. Children who make excuses often have parents who make excuses.
6. How can apologizing or lack of apologizing affect marriages?
Apologizing well can diffuse aggression. An insincere apology that shifts blame or makes excuses increases frustration and hurt.
Hebrews 12:14-15 Pursue peace with all people…looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.
Some couples who have been married for a long time have become more like roommates than people in love. Often this is because they have built up years of bitterness between each other. They have hurts toward each other piled on top of other hurts. Often this is because they let pride and stubbornness prevent them from taking responsibility for their actions. Their marriages have suffered terribly as a result.
A few other things:
- Be sure to check out this other video: “How should I respond when my husband mocks my Christian beliefs?”
- Here’s the Facebook Live video with all the comments and discussion: https://www.facebook.com/MarriageGodsWayAuthorScottLaPierre/videos/235904373486695/