I met a man in the church library who didn’t know any Scripture. This guy was hungry for Bible teaching, but all the adult Sunday school classes were studying Christian books or watching parenting videos. He was frustrated, but also eager to grow — so for nine months I read the Bible with him during Sunday school.

Then it fell apart. Somebody asked me to teach a class for several weeks. Then we went on vacation for a couple weeks. When I returned, my friend didn’t show. I saw him the following week but he was in a hurry and asked me to call. Which I never did. (I’m tired at night, I get home late, when dinner’s finished it’s time for bed, etc.)

I kept showing up on Sunday mornings for a while, but he didn’t. Now it’s three months later and when I run into him in the hallway things are chilly. The truth is, I was not a faithful friend, nor a good shepherd. I owe him an apology.

This ever happen to you? If so, here’s what I’ve learned about making apologies: Do it right. Don’t pull one of those lame political apologies . . .

“Hey, if something I did offended you I’m sorry you feel bad about it.”

Most people listen for signals that you mean your apology. According to Gary Chapman’s book on apologies, here are the five most common signals:

• Regret (I am sorry.)
• Responsibility (I was wrong.)
• Restitution (What can I do to make this right?)
• Repentance (I will try not to do that again.)
• Requesting forgiveness (Please forgive me.)

It takes work to salvage a relationship. And it’s worth the effort.