Wednesday, October 19, 2016

4 Things That Destroy Your Apology

Dear Friends,

“Never apologize - it’s a sign of weakness” is one of John Wayne’s most quoted movie lines. Our two current candidates for President seem to have made this their mantra because I’ve not heard a sincere apology from either one of them. On the issue of Clinton’s mishandling confidential emails containing classified information, her campaign chairman stated in an email that “She can say she’s sorry without apologizing to the American people.” Clinton said she was sorry it happened but then said it was, former Secretary of State, Colin Powell’s fault. She told an interviewer that she was “sorry this has raised all these questions” and justified her actions by saying “what I did was allowed.” The CEO of Clinton’s campaign think-tank lamented that “apologies are like her Achilles heel” meaning that admitting wrongdoing and taking responsibility is a weak and vulnerable area in her character. Hillary blamed the Republicans for stressing out her husband and causing him to have his White House affairs. After the attack on a U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, Secretary of State Clinton falsely blamed a Muslim video. We learn from Hillary that “blame-shifting” means never having to say you’re sorry.

Mr Trump is no better and he teaches us about the other “non-apology” techniques. After the release of video tapes documenting Trump’s vulgar and disgusting remarks about women, he responded by saying, “I said it. I was wrong and I apologize.” That was a textbook-perfect apology. Then he ruined it by justifying and minimizing his revolting taped remarks when he said, “It was just locker room talk.” And then to further demonstrate how not to apologize, Trump said that President Clinton’s sexual affairs in the White House were even worse than what he has done. That “non-apology” technique uses comparison to show that our wrongdoing was really not so bad because the sins of others are worse than our own. Let’s review what these two presidential candidates are teaching us...

Blame Shifting: “I’m sorry that I yelled and called you names but you just make me so angry.” (It’s your fault that I yelled and called you names)

Justifying: “I’m sorry that I yelled and called you names but I had a hard day at work today and I’m getting a headache.” (You shouldn’t be mad at me because I have an excellent reason for my verbally abusive behavior)

Minimizing: “I’m sorry that I yelled and called you names but that’s just the way I get sometimes – everyone loses it once in a while.” (You’re making too big a deal over my being a jerk. Just get over it)

Comparison: “I’m sorry that I yelled and called you names but you’ve yelled at me and even thrown things at me.” (Okay, maybe I’m a jerk but you’re even worse then I am)

Apologies include the words, “I’m sorry..” but those two words are worthless by themselves. The politician will always be sincerely sorry that his/her words/behaviors will cost them votes. The husband/wife may be sincerely sorry that they got caught in their wrongdoing or that their words/behaviors will upset the status quo in the home. And so to get out of trouble, we can fake an apology,“I’m sorry that you’re upset..” “I’m sorry if you were offended by what I said..” These phony “apologies” take no ownership for the offense. There is no admission of fault or wrongdoing. When I tell you that I apologize if you were offended by what I just said, here’s what I’m really saying: “If you think I did something wrong and got your feelings hurt, I hope you get over it soon.” When there is no regret, remorse or repentance on our part, we will always sound like a slick politician as we skillfully craft a sincere-sounding statement to sound like an apology when it is not.
Why do we good, church-going Christian adults mess up, do wrong things, hurt others and then, when it comes time to apologize, we find ourselves behaving more like John Wayne than Jesus Christ? The reason is the sin of pride. I know that I sin daily – okay maybe hourly – in thought, word and deed but my pride is what keeps me from acknowledging to you any wrongdoing on my part. And that’s when, out of our weakness, apologies become our Achilles heel. Watch how the John Wayne quote about apology becomes 100% accurate by adding just two words: When you never apologize - it’s a sign of weakness”. That’s the truth. It takes strength of character to offer a true apology and the five most powerful words in the English language are, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” 

You are human. You will mess up. When you do, apologize like a Christian. Not like a politician. Understand you have done something wrong. Call it by name. Take ownership of the wrongdoing. Read about sinful King Saul who blame-shifted and passed the responsibility for his wrongdoing onto others. 1 Samuel 15:10-26 Now read King David’s apology 2 Samuel 12:13 and see why sinful David was forgiven and thereafter described as a “man after God’s own heart.” Acts 13:22  An insincere apology is given to get oneself out of trouble. A sincere and authentic apology comes from remorse which is a “moral anguish arising from repentance for past misdeeds.” It is the Holy Spirit who convicts us and brings the worst of us to our knees in remorse. Even Judas was remorseful. Matthew 27:3-4 NLT The Greek word translated as “remorse” in our Bible, means not just feeling badly for what we have done but it also involves the heart-felt desire to change one’s behavior. First, confess to God and receive His forgiveness. Then, make it right with anyone you have wronged. Go to them. Say, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” Period.  Amen?

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