As a child, I didn’t fully appreciate the little barbecue joint located along the short, daily drive between our house and my grandparents’. We picked up the most amazing sandwiches there: slightly-sweet sauce soaked into smoked, pulled pork with crispy, burnt ends on toasted buns. My grandmother had our turkeys smoked there at Thanksgiving.
As an adult, the pursuit of good barbecue has been a life goal. When we moved to a new part of Atlanta 12 years ago, it took time—years actually—to find a new go-to BBQ restaurant. One day I discovered a promising one on Trip Advisor. Most of the reviews were great, except for one, which was really, really bad.
Ultimately, it was that bad review that convinced us to give them a try.
Not only did the management publicly respond, but they took responsibility for every aspect of the complaint. The manager even reviewed the security tape footage, located the transaction in question, and admitted, “We failed you.”
He didn’t deny or attempt to explain away their mistakes. He owned them. Completely.
Combined with so many favorable reviews, this one convinced us to give them a try. And boy, were we glad! I’d driven past this restaurant many times, forgetting that the best barbecue is often found in dives, attached to gas stations, with a pink pig on the roof.
I try so hard to get it right—to be a good example to my kids or among my friends—that sometimes I forget that the testimony of someone who takes responsibility for their mistakes can be more powerful than the testimony of someone who doesn’t make them in the first place.
Maybe it’s not whether you do the right thing but how you handle it when you mess up.
He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. (Proverbs 28:13)
One of the toughest lessons I’ve learned as a parent is that sometimes my kids’ bad behavior is my fault as much as theirs, especially if I’ve failed to consistently correct a bad habit. I get confused looks when I say, “We’ve got a problem here, and I’ve failed you. I should have stopped this sooner.” I used to think my kids wouldn’t respect or listen to me if they saw my faults, but in my experience we connect better when they see the real me, warts and all.
The same has been with marriage. It is one of the hardest—but most important—areas to admit when you’re wrong. I don’t know about you, but I can be stubborn! It can be awkward to apologize when you’ve wronged or hurt a friend, a spouse, or your kids. Whatever the circumstance, sincerity may be the most important element of an apology.
I don’t know if the restaurant manager’s sincere response to the bad review did any good or if the annoyed customer ever returned. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter. But if we fail to take responsibility for our own mistakes or accept an apology, it can affect our most precious and fundamental relationships.
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:32)
Can you think of a time when you tried to hide a mistake that you should have taken responsibility for? Are you good at giving or receiving apologies?