This is guest post from my friend, Paul Johnson. Solid dude in every way! Conversations like this truly matter. Enjoy.
“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper; but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy. – King Solomon
2014 afforded the world a few publicly aired apologies that were tough to watch. Donald Sterling of LA Clippers, Ray Rice, etc… C’mon fellas!
I’m thankful that all my ‘stuff’, big or small, is not aired in the court of public opinion and played on every cable news channel for analysis, that’s for sure. I am reminded of some practical things I’ve learned about making a proper apology – for situations at home with my wife, kids, with co-workers and friends.
Peacemaker Ministries based in Colorado has developed a helpful framework for dealing with conflict. I have had the privilege of learning from them first hand and appreciate the wisdom they have shared. I find it deeply based in scripture and focused on restoration. I am challenged to seek help from God and find Him both willing and able to help in the midst of the tension.
Left to my own preferences, I simply want the conflict gone so I can move on. But apologizing well requires a higher commitment.
They offer 7 points of focus that help center me on conveying genuine contrition. They call it the 7 A’s of an Effective Apology.
- Address everyone involved – the confession should go as far as the offense and involve everyone affected.
- Avoid “ifs” and “buts” – no qualifiers. A classis these days sounds like “I’m sorry if my remarks offended you”.
- Admit specifically – Confess both your specific actions and the underlying attitude. Bring up what you actually said.
- Acknowledge the hurt – look the offended party in the eye and let them know you understand this issue has hurt them.
- Accept the consequences – this is a mark of a genuine confession.
- Alter your behavior– explain how (with God’s help) and what you plan to change
- Ask for forgiveness – this provides an opportunity for the offended party to respond.
We’ve all experienced a poor apology. I mentioned a few above that the media had a field day with. But what about us? What would our spouse, kids, co-workers of friends say about yours truly? Are we apologizing well, from the depths of our hearts? Or are we just managing out the conflict for our own self-sustaining convenience, like we’re five years old again with mom scolding us, “Now you tell Jimmy you are sorry”!
If you are working on any conflicts lately perhaps this 7 A’s can help. It’s not meant to be a formula. Common sense tells us the most effective apology has to first come from the heart – there must be regret and a willingness to change.
Some Encouragement along the way
- Allow time as the offended party may need some time to allow forgiveness to enter into the heart. Know it may never come.
- Don’t use your confession/apology to point out the sin in others.
- If you’re not truly sorry, pray for a changed heart. (*Is this the hill to die on? Probably not. Ask Him to help you see things through the other’s eyes)
In the end, it’s all about the heart. Our heart and likely the heart of someone who needs to hear from us. Healing and restoration await us as we turn our hearts toward those for whom an apology is due.
Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in the right circumstances. – King Solomon
May beauty, through restored and healed relationship, rise for you this year!
Paul and his wife (Kris) of 25 years live in Woodinville, WA. They have 3 grown children and 1 amazing dog (Coop). At their local church they lead a couples group with the sole focus – Building Marriages with Christ at the Center. Paul is a sales manager for Del Monte Foods and travels a fair bit. He is a work in progress who wants to serve Jesus in work and play.