I fairly often do or say something that is a mistake. It wasn’t what I intended to do or say, but it is still a mistake. I recently bought some airplane tickets for my son and grandson to Kenai, Alaska so they could go salmon fishing with me. They were round trip tickets, and were supposed to be from July 19th to July 26th. Seth recently asked me what the dates were because he had forgotten so I picked up the tickets to look because I had forgotten as well, and read July 19th to September 26th. He responded by saying “I thought this was a one week fishing trip, not two months”! Oops, how did that happen? I immediately got on the phone and called Alaska Airlines and explained my mistake, and they very graciously changed the dates. Whooooeeee, I am glad Seth asked, it would have been a bummer to get ready to come home and find out then. Sometimes my mistakes are little and funny and other times they are big and expensive. Sometimes my mistakes can be fixed and other times they can’t be fixed. Mistakes are inevitable, part of life. The problem for most of us is that our mistakes often cause inconvenience for others as well as for ourselves, and often are embarrassing and make us feel stupid or incompetent. I once called a couple by the wrong names as I performed their wedding, preached with my zipper down, once while on the dairy I forgot to put the cap on the milk tank after washing it, and 300 gallons of milk ran in the tank and out the drain.
The main question is what do you do after the mistake, especially if it is big, expensive, and embarrassing? I wrote out my response several years ago, because I found that if I wrote out what to do I got over it quick, but if I didn’t have a pre-meditated plan I could fret about it for days and even longer as I replayed the stupid move over and over in my head. (1) Yep, that was a mistake, admit it, don’t excuse, justify, or blame. It may have been a typo, I might have been tired, it doesn’t really change anything, so don’t don’t make excuses, it just makes me look like a wimp. (2) Laugh! Laugh at myself! Most mistakes are funny if I can just relax and recognize that it was a mistake. (3) Learn whatever there is to learn if the mistake was a result of not knowing or understanding something. (4) Fix whatever I can fix, if I can’t fix it, be humble enough to try and find someone who can, if it isn’t fixable, admit it, and don’t keep trying to resuscitate a dead horse. (5) Apologize quickly to anybody that is impacted by my mistake, again without excuses, blaming, or justifying. (6) Offer to make restitution to anybody that experiences financial loss because of my mistake. (7) Write the details of the mistake in my journal so I don’t forget the experience and can use it as an illustration in a sermon or a blog, a good illustration or story is worth a lot. (8) Make a resolution. “I will work hard at not doing that again”!! and (9) once I have done the above eliminate all self-scolding and negative self-talk, it doesn’t change anything.