At first, I was shocked.
The sight of a Cabinet Minister making a rude gesture to a crowd of people. Surely, she should have known better. But, it was her response that most interested me;
“I should have shown more composure but am only human”(Andrea Jenkyns)
What we, the general public, don’t know is the stress she was under, the background to her actions and her “backstory” – also, I need to point out, this is a no politics blog!
What the incident and her subsequent comments got me thinking about, was “owning our mistakes.”
Let’s face it, we all make ‘em.
The slip of the pen.
The bad moment when we snap because somebody says something
The time we are in a rush, and a careless driver cuts in front. One of the reasons I don’t wear a dog collar when driving is, it has a tendency to get a little tight whilst I let off steam at other drivers!
As the foreman in the factory where I worked used to say “the man who never made a mistake, made nothing”
Perhaps, at some level, we can all use the defence;
“I should have shown more composure but am only human”
So, what do I mean when I say “owning our mistakes”? I mean, to take responsibility for your mistake. Be prepared to admit your failure.
So often, people want to deflect and evade responsibility. Pass the blame is not a new game, just read the story of Adam and Eve. Adam blames Eve. Eve blames the serpent. The serpent hasn’t got a leg to stand on.
Perhaps, the world would be a different place if Adam had said to God, “I am sorry, I gave in to temptation. I broke the rules and will have to live with the consequences of my choice.”
What I also see is that when people “own their mistakes”, they find forgiveness. King David, when faced with his actions that led to the death of Uriah, responds;
I have sinned against the Lord(2 Samuel 12 vs. 13)
David owns his mistake and recognizes that, ultimately, he has broken God’s laws. There are consequences to be faced, but David does receive forgiveness.
There are lots of reasons why we need to own our mistakes and a few stood out for me in my reflections. Firstly, our mistakes are great teachers. We learn more from our mistakes and failures than we do from our successes.
Secondly, owning our mistakes, is a demonstration of personal integrity. Integrity is the quality of honesty. A leader who blames everyone else and accepts no responsibility, lacks integrity and is soon believed untrustworthy.
Finally, our mistakes, if we are prepared to own them, bring us to the place of grace. I may not have made rude gestures to a crowd of people or plotted the death of someone. I have, however, made plenty of mistakes. If I am prepared to own my mistakes, seek God’s forgiveness and ask for God’s help I find forgiveness and newness of life. As the Apostle John writes;
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.(1 John 1 vs. 8 -9)
I think we all need to be prepared to own our mistakes.