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Saying something you’d like to take back

I shouldn't have said that.
I shouldn’t have said that.

We associate pastors talk… a lot. We teach, preach, present, counsel, visit, and chat. Sometimes, we might say something of which we are not proud – a mistake, a terse answer, or an obviously frustrated response to a question the person in front of us has asked for the first time but you are hearing for the 15th time this week. We make mistakes, show emotion, and are simply sometimes off our game.

Recently, after a sermon, a member of our congregation came to correct me on a minor point I had made in a sermon illustration that was just completely wrong. I mean, it wasn’t even close. It was about a holiday in her home country and my research pointed me in a very wrong direction. She was gracious in correcting me, and I’m glad she did, but boy was I embarrassed.

Maybe that’s why when I watched Richard Sherman’s interview with Erin Andrews after the Seattle Seahawks defeated the San Francisco 49ers for the privilege of playing in the Super Bowl, my first thought was compassion. I felt bad for him. As I watched the video (on YouTube here and embedded below), I could almost see the adrenaline coursing through his veins. He had just made THE play that sent his team to play in the biggest game in sports. In the heat of the moment, Erin Andrews did what sideline reporters do. She stuck a mic in front of the hero and asked him a question, and well… he said something stupid. Since then, the video has gone viral, and the interview has been the focus of much of the early Super Bowl talk.  I’m so thankful my faux pas only happen in front of a handful of people at a time, and not millions on national television.

So, here are a couple of thoughts about saying things we wish we could take back.

  • Pause before you speak. Often, we are far too quick to speak, tweet, and post before we think about how we will be heard. You don’t need to share everything you are feeling. Measure your words, then respond.
  • Stay positive. Imagine how much more we would be talking about Sherman’s amazing play in the end zone, if he would have simply celebrated the win. Instead, the interview, the mistake, is what most people are hearing.
  • Humility. Telling people you are the best doesn’t endear you to anyone. If you really are great, they will know. You don’t have to tell them.
  • Apologize. When you make a mistake, apologize. Sherman tried in a blog on Sports Illustrated, but it comes off as more of a rationale for his behavior than a genuine apology. It is far better to say, “I’m sorry. I messed up. I shouldn’t have said that.” Take the initiative. Own up to what you have done wrong, and apologize. It will go a long way.


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