When You’ve Done Wrong

We all make mistakes. We all do the wrong thing occasionally (or more than occasionally). The way you handle things when you’ve done wrong says a lot about you. Do you blame others? Do you make excuses? Do you try to cover things up? Or, do you take responsibility. Face the consequences. Do your best to help minimize the repercussions of that mistake?

If you want to really shake up the person you report to, go to him or her the moment you realize you have made a mistake or misstep. Tell them what happened. Share anything you’ve done to rectify the situation. Apologize sincerely. If appropriate, share any ideas you have for making sure something similar doesn’t happen in the future. Accept whatever reprimand and/or penalty coming to you. Do your best to do better in the future.

In the interest of openness, let me confess that this blog idea came from a recent personal experience. I have a lot of responsibilities with my church. Recently, some of those responsibilities have changed—especially those concerning money. Up until recently it was my responsibility to deposit funds. We were expecting a donation to come by mail. When it arrived I attempted to contact the man now in charge of making deposits. When I couldn’t get hold of him I decided to go ahead and deposit the check, since I knew we were counting on those funds. I then let both him and our pastor know that I’d done that. As I thought about it, I realized I had completely overstepped my bounds. Though I was simply doing what seemed logical at the time, that was not my call to make. I texted both men that I realized I had surpassed my authority and assured them it would not happen again. The next morning I sent a text of apology to my pastor (he wasn’t in a situation where I could call), telling him I realized that what I had done was a breach of both procedure and his trust. I asked for forgiveness, which was immediately given. I then called the man whose authority I had usurped. Again, I apologized and assured him it would never happen again. He told me that he was floored by my text the day before, since I hadn’t waited to be admonished. He accepted my apology and told me he knew and appreciated my heart.

This incident came, of course, after years of handling these things the wrong way—mostly hoping that my errors wouldn’t be noticed or called to anyone’s attention. I have to say, though, that taking care of this right away helped to lift a burden from my heart.

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