We all make mistakes, some big, some small. Why not just move on? Why do we have to say we’re sorry? Who really cares?
President Obama made a huge mistake. His signature creation is called Obamacare, a 20,000-page law that passed Congress without a single Republican vote and added another 800 pages of regulations. But his biggest mistake was simply this: He didn’t read it. When asked if an American could decide to keep his own insurance and his own doctor, he said: “Of course.” He then added: “Period.” Big mistake. Should he apologize?
God made a big mistake, too. One of our Hebrew authors, called the Yahwist because that’s what he calls God, makes Yahweh very “human.” His Yahweh is jealous, angry, impatient and even vengeful. In Genesis 6:6, he says Yahweh “regretted that he had made man on the earth, and was grieved in his heart.” God, according to this author, realized that he had made a huge mistake with his signature creation. Did he apologize? In a way. After he wiped out the entire universe with a flood that lasted 40 days and 40 nights, he said he’d never do it again.
So why apologize? People make mistakes all the time, at work, at home, at church, in our clubs. We can’t make it through the day without seeing an error or mistake. It’s just part of being human. Why should we apologize?
Here’s why. It’s good for the soul. Let me explain. There are two parts of an apology:
I forgive myself. Most people don’t seem to understand that this is really the most important part of the apology. I can’t ask you to forgive me if I have not first forgiven myself, and I cannot forgive myself if I have not admitted my own guilt. This is the secret of apologizing. Without this, you can forget the rest. Before I say “I’m sorry,” I have to dig deep down in my conscience and see what I did was wrong and admit that I did it. No excuses. Then I can move to the second part.
I ask your forgiveness. Sometimes you will forgive, and sometimes you won’t. I can’t do anything about this. All I can do is ask and say, “I’m sorry.” Depending on what I did, you may be crying or shouting or swearing or pounding on my head. If my apology is true, I’ll just stand there and take it.
Apologizing is tough. It’s a lot easier to lie or spin or blame the other guy. Apologizing takes honesty and humility -- the two foundations for trust. Without trust no relationship will survive. We see this in broken marriages. We see it in failing businesses, and we see it day after day in our dysfunctional government. We see the opposite as well, however, and it’s such a joy when it appears.
Pope Francis doesn’t hesitate to apologize for his “checkered church.” He doesn’t sit on a throne and pretend that all is well beneath him. He walks the streets and feeds the poor and punishes the pompous prelate who builds a mansion for himself. Francis is honest and he’s humble, and because of that, he’s trustworthy.
Apologizing makes people trust us. That’s why we apologize.
Click on my video “Apologies” www.youtu.be/5SMgCgDgbpg.
Dr. Bill Cummings is the CEO of Cummings Consolidated Corp. and Cummings Management Consultants. His website is digitallydrc.com.