My kids like to use the phrase” “No Offense,” as a way to tell others about their inadequacies. For example just the other day I heard my 6th grader say this to her sister: “No offense, but you aren’t really that good at art.” Later in the day brother to sister: “No offense but, you have an attitude.” I think you get the idea. We have tried to explain to them on more than one occasion that sticking “No Offense” in front of a hurtful statement, still hurts someone’s feelings.
Ever had a “No Offense” moment as a youth worker? It’s when we mess up blatantly or unwittingly but still know we have steam rolled someone in the process. Maybe you mishandled a parent, when they deserved your rage because if they had actually READ one of the notices you sent home, they would have known better. Perhaps, you undermined senior leadership and they found out about it. It could be you made a “WHAM” (whopping, huge, aggravated, mistake) and you know it.
What matters as a leader is less about what we have done TO mess up and what will we do TO deal with it?
1. Take Ownership Of Your Part
Venting to your peers they will not argue that the parent or senior leadership was wrong. However, what part did we play in the misstep? Stop pointing fingers at everyone else, and own what you have done. We don’t have to take the blame for everyone, but the Holy Spirit brings conviction when we are wrong, and it is obvious in our heart. This means we are willing to repent (or turn away) from what WE did.
2. Genuinely Say Sorry
Ever seen someone say the words, “I’m sorry,” through gritted teeth? Yeah, you know they aren’t feeling it. Truth is you may not be feeling the apology either. However, taking the “high road” means we own it and then smooth out out our part in the story. You can’t control the other party, but you can come with a repentful heart in what you did wrong. Hurting someone for the right reasons, is still a wrong approach. My daughter knows she isn’t a great artist, but her sister making fun of her was mean.
3. Have Integrity
There are times when we “fall on the grenade.” These are the times when we don’t think we were wrong. There are two questions we need to ask in that situation: 1. “Does this person (like a parent or senior leadership) deserve our respect no matter what?” 2. “Is it worth me damaging, breaking or losing a relationship?” There are times when integrity dictates we “do the right thing,” which is to own it and apologize, regardless on if we were right or not.
4. Next Time
Ever notice how many movie and television plots revolve around someone messing up and then not being able to properly confess it? We keep thinking, “Why did they run again? It’s not an unfixable mess. Rarely is anything “that bad.” Instead we ask ourselves, “If I land in this same scenario in the future, what will I do next time?” Every time we fall down, it really is an opportunity for growth and transformation into the image of Christ. Next time, handle it differently.
No offense, but you messed up. We all do, and we will again. Christ just wants us to stand up and deal with it. Worse case scenario we are reminded acutely our need for a Savior.
What do you do when you have messed up?