Apologizing

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.

Published by Paul Santhouse

I’m a husband and father, follower of Jesus Christ, and member of the Moody Publishers team. I've worked with gifted authors and their books for thirty-plus years, and I believe the local church is where we become the kind of people who reveal what Jesus is like. Since this is my personal blog, the views and opinions expressed herein are my own, not those of my employer. However — books, publishing, the work of the church, and learning to follow Jesus are central to my daily experience, so that's what this blog is about. Thanks for visiting! Paul

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