Apologizing . . . again

In a recent Pinnacle Forum call, our Monday morning group discussed “The Connection Between Mouth And Heart”, from “The Relational Principles Of Jesus” by Tom Holladay. 

Our candid conversation focused on how our words get us in trouble and an appropriate, simple apology is needed.  Too often, I get caught in the tornadic cycle of “self-reflection” asking why I say the things I say and do the things that I do.  The self-reflection can end up pulling me down into a deeper analysis with no solution in sight.

Self-reflection can only lead to spiritual rebuilding.  The solutions for my struggles are never found in me, alone . . . but, in the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.

On a practical note, one of the men on our call recalled a “Six Steps To An Apology” by Ford Taylor.  Ford is a leadership strategist, keynote speaker, and the author of Relational Leadership. As the Founder of Transformational Leadership, he is known as a man who can solve complex business issues, with straightforward practical solutions, while maintaining his focus on people. 

Here are his Six Steps To An Apology

What is the right thing to do when you have made a mistake that you are aware of? The answer? Apologize. 

So what is an appropriate apology? Is there a way to apologize that could lead to a change in behavior and save or grow relationships? 

When apologizing, I recommend using a six-step apology. My team and I are often told that this tool has saved relationships that appeared to be beyond saving. We’ve been told it has saved unity in marriages, sports teams, companies, and many other types of organizations. Let’s go through the process.  

Step 1: State the offense.

State aloud to the other person what he or she believes you did to him or her. Say, “You are right. I did ______. I did that.” If you have to qualify your apology by saying, “If I did _______,” it’s not a real apology. 

Step 2: Acknowledge that you were wrong. 

Use these three simple words: “I was wrong.” 

Step 3: Apologize. 

It’s very simple. Say, “I am sorry.” 

Now, if you were raised in a home where you were told you’re a sorry little son of a gun and that word has a different meaning for you, just say, “I apologize.” Remember not to say, “I want to tell you that I am sorry” or “I want to apologize.” These are not apologies. They are statements that you “want to” but are not going to. 

Step 4: Ask for forgiveness. 

Ask, “Will you forgive me?” 

Only you know if you’ve used forgiveness as a way to control and manipulate others. If you have been doing this and have lost credibility as a result, ask the person, “When you can, will you forgive me?” Otherwise, ask for forgiveness on the spot. 

It doesn’t matter what the person’s answer is. They don’t have to say “yes” or “no,” but it is important that you ask. Once you have asked, you have done your part. Regarding the relationship, the next step is now entirely up to the other person. 

Step 5: Ask for accountability.  

Tell the person who you hurt, “I give you permission to hold me accountable for not behaving this way anymore.”

Remember that we’re not making the other person accountable to hold us accountable. We’re giving permission to the other person to hold us accountable. And those are very different. 

When we say enough times, “I am wrong. I am sorry. Will you forgive me?” and we give permission for people to hold us accountable, our behavior will begin to change. 

Step 6: Ask if there’s anything else. 

Ask the person, “Is there anything else I’ve done in our relationship that I need to apologize for?” When you ask that, you’re going to surprise the other person. 

Men, if you decide to do that with your wife, know that she remembers far more of the things you’ve done to her than you could imagine. You may not even remember what you did to her last week. So, if you take “Step 6” in the six-step apology, be ready not to respond negatively. Just make a note of whatever she says. 

It’s New . . . but it’s not

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35 ESV

Jesus introduces a radical instruction . . . a new truth that requires new thinking.

Love is no longer a comfortable convenience . . . it is a compassionate conviction.

Pamela Rose Williams writes, “Sometimes it’s difficult to love someone.  It’s easy to love the lovely people; but what about those unlovely people that we come in contact with sometimes on a daily basis?”
As disciples or followers of Christ, our compassion becomes our calling card.  The expression of our love is the evidence of our heart.

A New Instruction.  The rules of religion often replace the priority for relationships within the redeemed.  Too many times, we expect right actions before we extend righteous affection.  Jesus reduces all of the commandments to two.  He reminds us, “‘And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31 ESV)  God’s love is based on Who He is, not on what we do.  This is revolutionary in God’s Church.

A New Intention. Barbara De Angelis reminds us, “You never lose by loving. You always lose by holding back.”  Just as we have received God’s love, we return it to others.  Our love for others is comprehensive and completely modeled after Christ’s love for us.  We are a funnel through which His compassion flows.  The more we are intimate in our longing for Him, the more we are intentional with our love to others.  John tells us what this intentional love looks like.  He writes, “By this we know love, that He laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:16-18 ESV)  We give out of the grace we have received.  We live out the love that God lavishes on us.

A New Identifier.  The Nike swoosh.  Ralph Lauren’s polo rider.  McDonald’s golden arches.  Brand marketing creates a symbol that causes immediate recognition of a product, concept or service.  These symbols are often known as logos.  Our love becomes our logo.  When we love each other . . . with selflessness, sacrifice and service . . . we brand ourselves as being followers of Christ.  The psalmist reminds us of the depth and devotion of God’s love, “The LORD is compassionate and merciful, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.” (Ps 103:8 NLT).  It’s a love that’s decisive and not divisive.  It’s a love that is constructive, not destructive. Its a love that builds up, not tears down.

Jimmy Larche writes, “The true mark of Christ followers is that they have love for one another. This is what define us. When we don’t follow Christ in his love for people, we end up reducing Christianity to something else – typically a cheap substitute disguised as religious devotion.”

God has shown us love and we share His love with others.  Oscar Wilde penned this thought, “Keep love in your heart. A life without it is like a sunless garden when the flowers are dead. The consciousness of loving and being loved brings a warmth and richness to life that nothing else can bring.”

It’s great instruction with grace-filled intentions and a God identifier . . . receive His love and give it away.

The Importance Of “Why”

Author, strategist and management expert, Simon Sinek introduced the concept of “The Golden Circle”, in which he states, “that many of the most successful leaders start with ‘why.’”

In his first letter to early century followers of Jesus; fisherman turned spiritual leaders wrote, “But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15 ESV

In today’s world, those who are disciples of Jesus need to embrace the “why”.

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How You See Is What You Get

For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever. 2 Corinthians‬ ‭4‬:‭17-18‬ NLT

We walk through our days with our senses being inundated. Go to a large urban city and the sights, sounds and smells will leave an indelible impression. Living on a farm can have the same impact. And, if you travel to another country, those sensory reminders will always be with you.

I’m reminded how fun it is to teach children (and grandchildren) about the senses. Touch, taste, smell, hearing and sight. It’s just as important to teach them about spiritual senses . . . faith, hope, wisdom, love, patience.

As we walk through each day, the impact of our senses, especially our eyes, gives us a unique self perspective. We see things “through our own eyes” and the first thought is “how does this effect me?”

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Nope . . . It’s Not Happening

Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18 NIV)

I came across this passage several years ago.  Candidly, it did not make my list of the “Top Ten Verses That I Love.”  In fact, I didn’t like reading it at all.  It’s one of those passages of Scripture that walks around in your mind until it works its way down to your heart.

These verses are not really what we want to hear.  

We want to enjoy the blessings . . . not endure the burdens.  

We want fruit on our vines, crops in our field and livestock in our stalls . . . translated . . . we want money in our accounts, businesses growing, vocational recognition, nice cars to drive, a nice home with equity and all of our relationships to be perfectly, harmoniously happy.  We have accepted that these things equate to God’s hand of blessing . . . God being pleased with our performance.  Too often, we adopt a “spiritual Santa” understanding of God . . . if we are on the “nice list”, we get good gifts . . . and if we don’t get good gifts, we must be on the “naughty list”.

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it’s the hardest thing

So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him. (Luke 15:20 NLT)

Being a dad is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

I’ve been at this “father” thing for almost 40 years.  Once I think I have a handle on it, I find that I’ve lost my grip.  When I think I have arrived, I realize I’m still on a journey. 

Pope John XXIII said, “It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.”

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Let me see . . . Let me feel

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

Romans 12:15 ESV

Unity is a delicate and deliberate balance of appreciating and accepting differences and diversity.

We fight against judging others based on past experiences or preconceived expectations.  Our fears keep doors unopened and erect walls of opposition.

Our first response is likely a faulty reaction.

Noted author and Pastor, Charles Swindoll reminds us, “Prejudice is a learned trait. You are not born prejudiced, you are taught it.”

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We’ve Been Here, Before

I remember the date well . . . January 1, 1988. It was New Year’s Day, college football was on television and seat belt requirements became law in our state.

I love my rights. Don’t ever limit my opportunity to speak out, don’t infringe on my 2nd Amendment right, and don’t tell me I must wear a seat belt. A seat belt was uncomfortable and restrictive. It impeded my driving. It did not help my driving improve. In fact, it only was a benefit if I got into a life-threatening accident. I very rarely had a fender-bender, much less a tragic car crash.

And, it was just another move of an oppressive and over-reaching government to control me. I believed and could argue that seat belts were just the first step in a lifetime of limiting my personal freedoms and taking away my rights.

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I Choose . . .

Daryl is a long-time friend.  He is warrior.  A fellow “8”.  He is passionate and purposeful.  He and his wife, Jo have lived a love-story with valleys and mountaintops . . . like all of us.

Daryl recently talked about his life the last few months . . . Daryl’s Story

I listened to this video clip from Waymaker Church’s Easter streamed service.

As you listen to these four short minutes, consider the following:

Perspective . . . Pivot . . . Pursue

All of us live seeing out existence from a chosen perspective.  For some, it is from a viewpoint of “entitlement“, where I am owed something.  For others, it is out of guilt . . . this is what I “deserve”.  And, for some it’s “control” because I determine who I am and who I become.  For me,  I see a life that has a Master Creator Who loves me more than I could ever imagine and gives me the opportunity to do “more than I could ever ask or think” (Eph 3:20 NLT).  I choose how I see things . . . my perspective.

There are times when life doesn’t go as planned.  Relationships become hard.  Work hits every roadblock.  Life starts to drain, damage and destroy all that you have dreamed of.  So many just sit and “pause”, while it may be better for us to “pivot”.  It’s usually not getting “rid” of anything, as much as getting “right” with things.  Alignment is the discipline of accomplishment.  I choose to change directions . . . I pivot.

And, then I charge forward with new perspective . . . I pursue with purpose, passion and a plan.

It begins with which story I’m telling myself . . . I make a choice to choose.

The One and the 1

I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Luke 15:7

The physician Luke records a conversation between Jesus and the religious leaders of His day over those who were spiritually lost.  The Pharisees focused on the found . . . Jesus looked for the lost.

The Savior told stories of a lost sheep, a lost coin and a lost son.  The lost sheep was sought after by the shepherd . . . the lost coin was found in a routine cleaning . . . and the lost son was waited for.

In each parable, there was celebration when the lost was found.

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