How do you handle being corrected by fellow friends, family or people in authority? Imagine being corrected by one pastor you respect because of something you say, not so bad right?! Now, add two more pastors and you’ll understand my recent situation. I recently had the privilege of going through an intense two-day training where we dialogue and discuss matters of school campus ministry and leadership. I had the opportunity to suggest some changes and that is when I was perceived as too forward for this particular setting. I had made these comments in such a pure and innocent motive that I did not realize how awkward the environment was until later that night when three of the youth pastor’s made me aware.
Here’s the kicker… A few days before this correction my wife and I were discussing how we wished people (in general, as a whole) would receive correction as kindness and growth, rather than moral or personal attacks. In our conversation I laid out five things to practice in moments of correction. Ironically, I now had to eat my own words and see if the advice works! I think these five practices worked and I hope they help you!
“Ironically, I now had to eat my own words and see if the advice works!”
- Remember your sinful nature. Keep a sober mind that we are flawed individuals. The truth that I messed up is very probable because I am a work in progress. I am a sinner, saved by grace. I’m not perfect. In fact, it is the correction and discipline that Hebrews 12 speaks of that is helping me mature and become more perfect. Which brings me to my second practice. (Romans 3:23; Jeremiah 17:9)
- I should welcome correction as an opportunity to be refined. I can’t grow in my walk with God if I don’t see areas that need pruning. And we need to be honest, we are a little biased about our innocence. People see things we don’t or choose not to see. It is hard for a life to flourish and glorify God when sinful things are hanging on, stifling the beauty of Christ’s character from exploding like the first day of spring. (Psalm 141:5)
- See if there is any truth in the correction. When these pastors corrected me I had to see if there was any truth in what they said. Typically, our first response is to defend ourselves and that’s when we reveal our pride, which is not an attribute of Jesus, but the sinful nature. I’ve never seen any conflict be only one person’s fault except the moment our perfect, sinless Savior died on the cross for OUR sins. Both sides of the dispute could be at fault, but examine your guilt, first. (Psalm 139:23-24)
- Humble yourself and apologize. Stand corrected and offer a genuine apology. When I put myself in their shoes and saw if there was any truth in their correction I found them to be right. It was then that I apologized, repeated their correction and admitted I need to be more careful. (Proverbs 11:2; 16:18; 29:13)
“When I put myself in their shoes and saw if there was any truth in their correction I found them to be right.”
5. Clarify. In fairness to me, the pastor’s barely knew me. We had only been around each other for 24 hours so they were just learning who I am. Please note: this is not your opportunity to defend yourself and subtly take your apology back. If you were taken wrong clarify what you meant with the same attitude of humility and standing corrected. Of course, you have to be honest that your heart did not mean to offend. I clarified that my heart was not trying to be offensive but the fact that I was perceived that way means I need to go about things differently. We concluded that everything I said was right and true, but my delivery was not. The pastor’s taught me how I could go about my honest evaluations in another way and their advice was very helpful!
I stand corrected and humbled by my experience. I learned an important lesson that day and I’m glad I went through it. I’m thankful my fellow pastors who were bold enough to be as honest as I was about pastoral ministry. I echo the words of David in Psalm 141:5, “Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness; let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head.”
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